• 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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    "If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
    William Morris, from his lecture "The Beauty of Life"

    "The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall, nations perish, civilizations grow old and die out; and, after an era of darkness, new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again, and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men’s hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead."
    Clarence Day

    "Anyone who has a library and a garden wants for nothing."
    Cicero

    "Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtile; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend."
    Sir Francis Bacon, "Essays"

    "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."
    Gilbert Highet, "The Immortal Profession: The Joys of Teaching and Learning"

    "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment."
    Walter Wriston

    "I'd like to give you a piece of my mind."
    "Oh, I couldn't take the last piece."
    Ginger Rogers to Frances Mercer in "Vivacious Lady" (1938)

    "No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem."
    Booker T. Washington

    "Please accept my resignation. I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member."
    Attributed to Groucho Marx in "The Groucho Letters" by Arthur Sheekman

    "If you can't say something good about someone, sit right here by me."
    Alice Roosevelt Longworth

    "If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, we feel all our hard work ain't been in vain for nothin'."
    Jean Hagen as "Lina Lamont" in "Singin' in the Rain" (1952)
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More booms in the backyard

The boys were standing behind me this morning as I was quickly clicking through my Bloglines subscription and I could hear audible gasps and “Put that back up again!” when I clicked on today’s GeekDad post by Kevin Kelly on Rubber Band Machine Guns.  So they were beside themselves when I clicked the post’s link to Backyard Artillery.  Kevin’s not familiar with the company and neither am I — are any readers? — but that didn’t stop us from having a great deal of fun admiring their wares.

Related links:

The Courting Danger page here at Farm School, featuring links to the following books, which you really should have on the shelf before contemplating a purchase from Backyard Artillery:

Backyard Ballistics: Build Potato Cannons, Paper Match Rockets, Cincinnati Fire Kites, Tennis Ball Mortars, and More Dynamite Devices by William Gurstelle

The Art of the Catapult: Build Greek Ballistae, Roman Onagers, English Trebuchets, and More Ancient Artillery by William Gurstelle

Whoosh Boom Splat: The Garage Warrior’s Guide to Building Projectile Shooters by William Gurstelle

And this opinion piece from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, “Why Safe Kids Are Becoming Fat Kids”.  Nothing new except for the tidbit that New York kids have a new risk to deal with on hot summer playgrounds — the rubber safety matting installed for their protection gets hot enough to burn tender tootsies.  You’d think it would be easier to tell your kid to put on shoes than to hire a lawyer to sue the Parks Department, but I’m the wrong person to ask, since I traded an office with a view of the Empire State Building for the chance to let my kids knock out their loose teeth falling from rope swings (which is what Davy did the other month) and out of trees.

So put on some shoes, kids, build an onager, get some exercise, and tell the secretary to cancel that call to the lawyer!

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7 Responses

  1. As a child, my father snuck a miniature model of a canon out of his house, loaded it and fired a marble clean through the garage door. My kids have been begging to replicate this feat ever since hearing the tale.

    I’m betting the library here doesn’t carry any of your book recommendations though I will certainly look!

  2. Thanks for the article recommendation – what a great reminder!

  3. L., your grandparents had a miniature working cannon? Dare I ask whatever became of it?

    Alicia, you’re welcome. Speaking of backyards, I love your new blog header photo!

  4. Even beyond the safety fascism, the instinct to sue someone for stuff like that is almost completely incomprehensible to me. I think you are better off out of that world. Unfortunately because of some people’s instinct to sue, insurance for everyone goes up, as does pressure to regulate, and that affects all of us as playgrounds become harder to maintian.

  5. I believe my dad still has it. I’ve been trying to add it to my miniature collection for years. It would look great in the attic or on the front porch of my dollhouse.

    : )

  6. Do we love William Gurstelle, or what? One of the very first things that my boys insisted on doing upon our return home was to fire off the potato cannon made with his instructions. It NEVER ceases to thrill.

  7. JoVE, I think it’s a North American mania, hard to escape. You should see the almost perfectly safe, no fun at all new playgrounds that have been installed around here.

    L., I think you need to send Elle on a reconnaissance mission. Quite the accessory for dollhouse!

    Kris, I was cleaning out the boys’ room yesterday and found this note under the bottom bunk:
    “3 Piant Ball Guns
    5 Packs of Patato Seeds [I assume he meant seed potatoes]
    3 Patato GunS”
    And since I’m the one who introduced them to Gurstelle it’s all my fault!

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