• 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 17/Grade 12, 15/Grade 10, and 13/Grade 9.

    Contact me at becky.farmschool@gmail.com

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    Jean Hagen as "Lina Lamont" in "Singin' in the Rain" (1952)
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Down a lazy river

BETTER DROWNED THAN DUFFERS IF NOT DUFFERS WON’T DROWN.
from “Swallows and Amazons” by Arthur Ransome

* * * * *

As I wrote the other day, the boys were eager to take their new inflatable dinghy (on sale at the hardware store last week) down the river.  I did have some doubts about sending an eight-and-a-half year-old, ten-year-old, and even a 12-year-old, with only informal paddling and sailing experience but strong swimming skills, off for three hours on their own on the river.  No cell phone either.  But they did have life jackets, common sense, and enthusiasm, and the river couldn’t have been any calmer.  Saturday night, after a long, hot (31 degrees C) day most of which was spent helping their father shingle a roof, the boys along with their sister set sail on the river about two miles south of our house, where the river valley backs on to a farmer’s pasture.  The plan was for the kids to paddle the eight to 10 miles in the dinghy to the provincial park in town.  With leisurely paddling along the very quiet waters and lots of animal-watching, the trip took them about three hours.  We collected them just before 10:30 pm, and they were all grinning broadly.  By their count, they noted 30 sightings of beavers (Davy figured only 18 beavers in total, with lots of repeats including one who kept swimming just ahead of the dinghy), six beaver lodges, five muskrats, two deer (one mule, one white-tail), two mother ducks with ducklings, one dead female mallard in the reeds during their only portage, and 20 geese.

The kids were inspired by hearing Tom regale them again and again with his story of paddling contest down the North  Saskatchewan River when he was in his twenties, and by the Arrogant Worms/Captain Tractor song, “The Last Saskatchewan Pirate”.  Here’s to many more summer adventures.

Some pictures from the beginning of the trip.  It was getting too dark for photos at 10:30.

Loading up the dinghy,
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Laura surveying the river valley,

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A curious muskrat,

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Around the bend and away,

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Related Farm School posts:

Paddle your own canoe

But will they change Titty’s name?

A manual for childhood

Why safer isn’t always better

In search of freedom and independence, and big bangs

Outdoor life, or, How to have an old-fashioned, dangerous summer

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6 Responses

  1. What a wonderful adventure for them! Are you familiar with the Free Range Kids blog? I’m not affiliated with it in any way–this post just reminds me of it and the need to give our children space to roam. Thanks for sharing! Oh, and I now have that Arrogant Worms songs going thru my head. :-)

  2. Risa, I’ve been raising kids like this since 1998, letting them roam
    on 320 acres : ).

    Every era seems to have its books (and now blogs) about raising kids and getting back to nature. Before free range children, nature deficit disorder (oy), getting children to love dirt, dangerous boys and girls, there was Daniel Carter Beard, who back in 1882 tried to “encourage city boys to recover their natural independence and self-sufficiency” with “The American Boy’s Handy Book”. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?!

    Here are some of my earlier posts,

    More thoughts on independence and freedom

    Further thoughts on self-esteem and self-confidence

    In search of freedom and independence, and big bangs

    Outdoor life, or, How to have an old-fashioned, dangerous summer

  3. Aaah, lovely, lovely stuff to do on a lovely-looking summer day :) Thanks for sharing this Becky!

  4. Suji, summer is short here so we try to make the most of it!

  5. Good for you. What a dream of a summer adventure. I sent my friends 12 year old son off to walk to the bakery 4 blocks away to get something for us and he was THRILLED. He had NEVER done anything like that. Oh man.

  6. My boys recently spent a day kayaking between shore and a not-too-distant island at a nearby lake. They had such a ball, ferrying items (and kids) back and forth. I kept thinking of Swallows and Amazons. I love that book. Glad you’re enjoying your summer!

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