• 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

  • Notable Quotables

    "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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Getting to know you

Davy and a new calf,

These days

Yesterday was my birthday and when I wasn’t thinking about how for the first time my mother wouldn’t be telephoning, and my father wouldn’t be emailing a Jacquie Lawson card and sending the usual box of books, it wasn’t too bad.  The kids and Tom made a heroic effort to distract me from my orphandom (is that even a word? orphanhood?).  Okay, it was awful and what did help was a quick trip to town to pick up some last-minute things for Daniel’s 12th birthday on Friday.  Much easier to concentrate on someone else’s festivities, especially when I need to figure out how I can co-opt some wedding printables for birthday purposes.

This morning dawned much better and happier, especially with all sorts of new birds back, and the yard positively vibrating from robins’ song. And the swallows are back and swooping around the window frames trying to figure out where to make their nests.  And here I’ve only more or less started the exterior spring cleaning — after just having finished, more or less, the indoor spring cleaning — and have yet to attack the window screens the swallows made such a mess of last summer. Must clean off old mess before they start making a new mess.

But then I checked my email and there was a merchandising come-on for Mother’s Day,

“be a hero to your hero! Great gift idea’s for Mom on eBay”

and, aside from the momentary pause to sigh about the dolts in charge of punctuation at eBay, it occurred to me that these next few weeks are going to be very, very hard.

Fortunately, part of my birthday present from Tom is a greenhouse — similar to this hoop-style greenhouse covered with poly, though Tom wants to make it more A-frame style with 2×4′s for ease of construction — and I am hoping that by May 8th I will be suitably distracted, or at least in a more suitable place to commune with the spirit of my parents, since my mother loved nothing better than filling the house with spring flowers (branches of pussywillows, forsythia, and lilacs) though she wasn’t in the least interested in how anything was grown, and my father was happiest puttering among his plants in his shade house.

Onwards. Upwards.


Mozart’s Golden Touch

Discovered while poking through the library system’s database, and very good, especially if you include music appreciation and history in your studies: the five-disc set “Mozart: The Golden Touch”, from CBC’s “Ideas” radio show, which features hour-long audio documentaries.  “Mozart” was written by the Canadian broadcaster and “Renaissance man” Lister Sinclair and produced in 1991.  The set was issued on audiodisc in 2006 as part of CBC’s celebrations for the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth.

The production features Broadway star Brent Carver as Mozart, and includes veteran Canadian actors Paul Soles, Frances Hyland, Colin Fox, Nonnie Griffin, and others.

By the way, if you’re a fan of “Ideas” or would like to become one, the current podcast schedule is here.  Since “Ideas” podcasts are archived for four weeks only, and not all programs are available as podcasts because of copyright restrictions, it pays to look over the schedule and also to grab any CD versions you can find.

Pudding poetry for April

I’m a bit late with this, but with any luck anyone reading here knows not to wait for official proclamations before reading, enjoying, and being moved by poetry.  It’s been a busy and difficult few weeks here.  We’ve been busy with calving, one cow (Laura’s very first 4H heifer) lost both of her twins so we are milking her.  Or rather, Laura and Tom are milking her, and I am responsible for finding things to do with 12 liters of milk a day.  I have been making yogurt, tapioca pudding, cheesy potato soup, and more. I have also realized that I am beginning to slog through the mud of depression and anxiety, not from the deaths of my parents, but from the consequences thereof, which are a mountainous mess.

What kicked me into gear for a poetry month was the news of Canadian poet Gary Hyland, who died last week at age 70 of ALS, or Lou Gherig’s disease. Today on the CBC radio show, The Next Chapter, host Shelagh Rogers replayed her last conversation with Gary Hyland, with poet Lorna Crozier reading his “A Safe and Easy Thing”, which is a marvelous poem for Poetry Month.  Pudding on a spoon, indeed.

A Safe and Easy Thing
by Gary Hyland

Don’t stop reading, Mildred.
There’s no need to be afraid.
This is not a poem. Pretend
you can hear me speaking,
pretend I am in a small room
far away playing the music
pictures happy in your head.

See? You don’t need to think.
The words are small and easy,
the lines are short, the print
large, like an advertisement.
Nothing will happen to you,
nothing to buy or believe or give,
like pudding, pudding on a spoon.

No one will ask what this means.
No one will care you’ve read it.
It is almost over and nothing
has happened. Not the sniff
of a mention of something odd,
nothing shifty, nothing fancy,
not one unpleasant anything.

You can be proud of yourself.
Should there be a power failure,
should the bubble puddings stop,
in the cough and shuffle silence
here’s something nice you can say
to your friends who never read,
not even signs or recipes.

Once I read a whole page of words
that my husband set into chunks.
It was easy, really, very easy.
It was about itself and me
and I could forget it right away.
That’s something to flaunt safely.
It’s not as if you’d read a poem.

*  *  *

Poetry and Poetry Month posts from the Farm School archives (there is also a green “Poetry” tab above at the top of this blog, second from the right):

National Poetry Month 2010

National Poetry Month 2009: Essential Pleasures and Happy National Poetry month!

Something different, a list of poetry books and other poetic resources

How I got my kids to like poetry and broccoli

Poetry sings

More poetry aloud, with PennSound

Poetry Is Life, and some Great Books too

A monthlong celebration of delight and glory and oddity and light (National Poetry Month 2008)

Adding even more poetry to your life, just in time for National Poetry Month (National Poetry Month 2006)

“Feed the lambs”: On the difference between poems for children and children’s poetry, Part 1 and Part 2

Thoughts on The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems and classic poetry

An appreciation of John Updike and light verse

Langston Hughes, the “social poet”

Eugene Field, “the children’s poet”, and his plea for the classics, for ambitious boys and girls

Robert Browning, with another plea and an explanation of how children learn best

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