• About Farm School

    "There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."
    James Adams, from his essay "To 'Be' or to 'Do': A Note on American Education", 1929

    We're a Canadian family of five, farming and home schooling. I'm nowhere near as regular a blogger as I used to be.

    The kids are 16/Grade 11, 14/Grade 9, and 13/Grade 8.

    Contact me at becky.farmschool@gmail.com

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    "The chief aim of education is to show you, after you make a livelihood, how to enjoy living; and you can live longest and best and most rewardingly by attaining and preserving the happiness of learning."
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    Alice Roosevelt Longworth

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    Jean Hagen as "Lina Lamont" in "Singin' in the Rain" (1952)
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Poetry Friday: The rhythmical gladness of June

The kids had their last swim practice of the week yesterday, and we decided to celebrate the arrival of the weekend and summer by roasting hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire in the garden. We sat there, lazing around, trying to keep the dog from eating the hot dogs and watching the flowers (the daylily started blooming yesterday) and the birds (we have goldfinches now), and I read my lovely new book* and the kids rode around in the grass on their bicycles.

And then there was a yell and Davy came running toward me babbling about a baby goose or duck. In his hand was a duckling, a blue-winged teal probably, based on the other ones we’ve found and raised over the years. We searched the area where Davy found it, but no other babies, or eggs, or any sign of a nest. We checked all of the other duck nests in the yard we know of (there’s a reason we don’t mow our grass for most of the summer), and no sign of any other babies. And then another duckling emerged, skittering across the concrete pad in front of the garage. Mystifying. So know we have Jack and Quack in a box in the kitchen, cheeping away. It doesn’t seem to be summer around here without birds in a box in the kitchen. We’ll raise them, as we’ve raised other orphans we’ve found, though usually we’ve had to hatch them first, and then release them before fall to make the annual flight with their brothers, sisters, and cousins.

Bird Language
by Christopher Pearse Cranch (1813-1892)

One day in the bluest of summer weather,
Sketching under a whispering oak,
I heard five bobolinks laughing together
Over some ornithological joke.

What the fun was I couldn’t discover.
Language of birds is a riddle on earth.
What could they find in whiteweed and clover
To split their sides with such musical mirth?

Was it some prank of the prodigal summer,
Face in the cloud or voice in the breeze,
Querulous catbird, woodpecker drummer,
Cawing of crows high over the trees?

Was it some chipmunk’s chatter, or weasel
Under the stone-wall stealthy and sly?
Or was the joke about me at my easel,
Trying to catch the tints of the sky?

Still they flew tipsily, shaking all over,
Bubbling with jollity, brimful of glee,
While I sat listening deep in the clover,
Wondering what their jargon could be.

‘Twas but the voice of a morning the brightest
That ever dawned over yon shadowy hills;
‘Twas but the song of all joy that is lightest,–
Sunshine breaking in laughter and trills.

Vain to conjecture the words they are singing;
Only by tones can we follow the tune
In the full heart of the summer fields ringing,
Ringing the rhythmical gladness of June!

Sherry at Semicolon is hosting today’s Poetry Friday round-up, a dandy way to celebrate summer’s arrival, with or without ducklings. Thanks for rounding up, Sherry, and also for that peek at your family’s beautiful poetry book.

* There are about 100 copies left at Bookcloseouts, at $1.99 each. Highly recommended at twice the price.

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8 Responses

  1. Your new book looks like a lovely one. How did you discover it?

  2. Thanks for introducing me to this poem. I have to say, your yard sounds like a real wonderland!

  3. What a great poem! It does sound as though the birds have their own jokes and conversations throughout the yard.

  4. That’s what I need. A duck nest. So far I’ve been relying on the wet weather to cover me on the not-mowing front…

  5. We invariably end up with orphans too. Living with birds in a box in the kitchen is not exactly pleasant, but such a learning experience. Having children Care for something that is totally dependent on them is an amazing way to have them learn real responsibility. Having the thing be something from the wilds teaches love and value of nature. Have a great time! Quack. Quack. We’ve never had ducks.

  6. [...] changing, concentrating, moving, romancing, teaching, adventuring, waiting, cloud-watching, bird-listening. Read child-friendly poetry about people and lemonade and dogs and weasels and prose explaining [...]

  7. Lovely poem – thanks for sharing it. I’ve tried to raise ducklings a time or two but the constant peeping drives me crazy. I love the last couple stanzas of this poem for describing “the song of all joy that is lightest”

    And thanks for the book link! :)

  8. Thanks for stopping by, all, and I’m glad everyone enjoyed the poem!

    JoVE, just think of it as reducing your carbon footprint in the garden. We also have wildflowers growing in the grass, and if they’re cut down, they don’t go to seed and reproduce for next year.

    Wisteria, I’ll take ducklings over a calf in the kitchen any day of the year!

    cloudscome, if you get a copy I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

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