• 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, home schooling, and building our own house. I'm nowhere near as regular a blogger as I used to be.

    The kids are 18/Grade 12, 16/Grade 11, and 14/Grade 10.

    Contact me at becky(dot)farmschool(at)gmail(dot)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"

    "‘Never look at an ugly thing twice. It is fatally easy to get accustomed to corrupting influences."
    English architect CFA Voysey (1857-1941)

    "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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Farm Report

Haying season has begun. Tom has started swathing the alfalfa, but this year rather than letting it dry and baling it, we’re going to try haylage. Haylage is similar to silage (which is made from corn, barley, oats and so on) in that it’s gathered up green to ferment, which sounds rather nasty to me but is quite tasty and nutritious for cattle. It’s also a better choice for us this year, when every passing cloud seems to contain a shower. To put up bales of hay, you need a good long stretch of dry, sunny, and breezy weather, and right now Mother Nature can only guarantee the breezy part.

Our field peas, about 100 acres of them, are growing nicely, and I’m thinking of snitching some pods when the time comes to supplement the few rows growing in our vegetable garden behind the house; I have a new raised bed currently under siege by a mole. With apologies to Kenneth Grahame, moles are not polite, charming visitors to be encouraged. They are rude, destructive, persistent, and sneaky. Mr. Mole has done a number in and around my peas, trying to get to the lettuce he prefers.

We went to check our wheat the other day, and it’s beautiful. Because it’s growing without any synthetic fertilizer (our farm has been certified organic for the past eight years), the plants are a considerably darker, richer green than the neighboring fields of conventionally grown wheat. If it just doesn’t hail — farmers are always hoping and praying for the right weather (no hail, not an early frost either, enough rain, some more sunshine) — it will make a nice crop come harvest time, in a month or so.

The blossoms are falling off the canola plants now, and the seeds are starting to form. We don’t grow any canola ourselves — it’s nearly impossible to keep an organic canola crop uncontaminated by the genetically-modified interlopers, and the consequences if you don’t can be ruinous — but I love to see the huge yellow fields throughout the countryside. There’s nothing like a beautiful sunny day, with a rich blue sky, bright green grass, and the vivid yellow of the canola to make you appreciate life in this part of the world.

Tom cut some more rhubarb for me, a hint I think — I have stalks poking out a large five-gallon pail in the middle of my kitchen — and I’m busy making an rhubarb crisp with some and cutting up the rest to freeze. The plants grew beautifully this year; I have a soft spot for anything that grows so vigorously and tastes so good.

Our new kittens are thriving and growing. We had a call from an acquaintance shortly after we bought a new Shorthorn bull from his parents the other month, asking if we’d be interested in the gift of some kittens. “How many?” I inquired suspiciously. “Well, Mom said you have three kids, so I was thinking of one apiece,” was the overenthusiastic reply from the young man, on his own with a house in town. It turns out that a heavily pregnant mama cat wandered into his yard, and he found himself with too many mouths to feed. In the end, we were happy to oblige, and took three of the babies — two mostly black with some white on the face and on the paws (they look alike to me, but Laura and Davy, the new owners, can tell them apart easily), and one gray tortoiseshell with rusty highlights. Laura named her kitten Vibrissa, after the cat in our Minimus Latin book, Davy’s (in good Davy Crockett fashion) is Cougar, and Daniel’s is Tiger. Like their owners, they are always hungry. Also like their owners, they’ve become pretty good at finding their own snacks between authorized mealtimes; even without the help of their mama, the kittens have figured out how to catch and eat mice in very efficient and elegant fashion, even though they don’t seem too much bigger than mice themselves. From my seat at my desk in the kitchen, where my computer and cookbooks are, I watch the kittens on the deck, wrestling with each, sleeping in a heap in the shade under the barbecue, climbing into the flower pots, and trying to catch dragonflies.

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