• 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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  • Copyright © 2005-2016 Please do not use any of my words or my personal photographs without my express permission.

Celebrating International Literacy Day, Part 2

Give me books, fruit, French wine and fine weather and a little music of out of doors, played by somebody I do not know.
John Keats

Oh for a book and a shady nook…
John Wilson

Books do furnish a room.
Anthony Powell

Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier.
Kathleen Norris

To read a book for the first time is to make an acquaintance with a new friend; to read it for a second time is to meet an old one.
Chinese proverb

A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.
Robertson Davies

Never read a book through merely because you have begun it.
John Witherspoon

People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.
Logan Pearsall Smith

When I am attacked by gloomy thoughts, nothing helps me so much as running to my books. They quickly absorb me and banish the clouds from my mind.
Michel de Montaigne

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written.
Oscar Wilde

It does not matter how many books you may have, but whether they are good or not.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
Sir Francis Bacon

In the highest civilization, the book is still the highest delight. He who has once known its satisfactions is provided with a resource against calamity.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Read not to contradict and confute nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider.
Sir Francis Bacon

Live always in the best company when you read.
Sydney Smith

An ordinary man can…surround himself with two thousand books…and thenceforward have at least one place in the world in which it is possible to be happy.
Augustine Birrell

A house without books is like a room without windows. No man has a right to bring up children without surrounding them with books…. Children learn to read being in the presence of books.
Horace Mann


The walls of books around him, dense with the past, formed a kind of insulation against the present world and its disasters.
Ross Macdonald

These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves. From each of them goes out its own voice…and just as the touch of a button on our set will fill the room with music, so by taking down one of these volumes and opening it, one can call into range the voice of a man far distant in time and space, and hear him speaking to us, mind to mind, heart to heart.
Gilbert Highet

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry —
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll —
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human soul.
Emily Dickinson

You can cover a great deal of country in books.
Andrew Lang

There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island…and best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.
Walt Disney

In a very real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read…It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.
S.I. Hayakawa

My education was the liberty I had to read indiscriminately and all the time, with my eyes hanging out.
Dylan Thomas

My father gave me free run of his library. When I think of my boyhood, I think in terms of the books I read.
Jorge Luis Borges

There was one place where I forgot the cold, indeed forgot Siberia. That was in the library. There, in that muddy village, was a great institution. Not physically, to be sure, but in every other way imaginable. It was a small log cabin, immaculately attended to with loving care; it was well lighted with oil lamps and it was warm. But best of all, it contained a small but amazing collection from the world’s best literature, truly amazing considering the time, the place, and its size. From floor to ceiling it was lined with books – books, books, books. It was there that I was to become acquainted with the works of Dumas, Pasternak’s translations of Shakespeare, the novels of Mark Twain, Jack London, and of course the Russians. It was in that log cabin that I escaped from Siberia – either reading there or taking the books home. It was between that library and two extraordinary teachers that I developed a lifelong passion for the great Russian novelists and poets. It was there that I learned to line up patiently for my turn to sit at a table and read, to wait – sometimes months – for a book. It was there that I learned that reading was not only a great delight, but a privilege.
Esther Hautzig

I received the fundamentals of my education in school, but that was not enough. My real education, the superstructure, the details, the true architecture, I got out of the public library. For an impoverished child whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the open door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it. Now, when I read constantly about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that the door is closing and that American society has found one more way to destroy itself.
Isaac Asimov

My mother and my father were illiterate immigrants from Russia. When I was a child they were constantly amazed that I could go to a building and take a book on any subject. They couldn’t believe this access to knowledge we have here in America. They couldn’t believe that it was free.
Kirk Douglas

The best effect of any book is that it excites the reader to self-activity.
Thomas Carlyle

The way a book is read — which is to say, the qualities a reader brings to a book — can have as much to do with its worth as anything the author puts into it…. Anyone who can read can learn how to read deeply and thus live more fully.
Norman Cousins

The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.
Abraham Lincoln

But he who truly loves books loves all books alike, and not only this, but it grieves him that all other men do not share with him this noble passion. Verily, this is the most unselfish of loves!
Eugene Field

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.
Mark Twain

Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant and interesting.
Aldous Huxley

When you read a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than there was before.
Clifton Fadiman

If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The first thing naturally when one enters a scholar’s study or library, is to look at his books. One gets the notion very speedily of his tastes and the range of his pursuits by a glance round his book-shelves.
Oliver Wendell Holmes


I am a part of all that I have read.
John Kieran

Show me the books he loves and I shall know
The man far better than through mortal friends.
S. Weir Mitchell

In literature as in love, we are astonished at what is chosen by others.
Andre Maurois

My lifelong love affair with books and reading continues unaffected by automation, computers, and all other forms of the twentieth-century gadgetry.
Robert Downs

The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones.
Joseph Joubert

I’ve never known any trouble that an hour’s reading didn’t assuage.
Charles De Secondat

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.
Charles W. Eliot

There is no mistaking a real book when one meets it. It is like falling in love.
Christopher Morley

Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book….
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Properly, we should read for power. Man reading should be man intensely alive. The book should be a ball of light in one’s hand.
Ezra Pound

A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.
G. K. Chesterton

A room without books is like a body without a soul.
G. K. Chesterton

There is a great deal of difference between an eager man who wants to read a book and the tired man who wants a book to read.
G.K. Chesterton

Woe be to him that reads but one book.
George Herbert

How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.
Henry David Thoreau

The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.
Edmund Burke

When we read too fast or too slowly, we understand nothing.
Blaise Pascal

What do we, as a nation, care about books? How much do you think we spend altogether on our libraries, public or private, as compared with what we spend on our horses?
John Ruskin

A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face…. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.
Edward P. Morgan

When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
Desiderius Erasmus

Wear the old coat and buy the new book.
Austin Phelps

To be a book-collector is to combine the worst characteristics of a dope fiend with those of a miser.
Robertson Davies


Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?
Henry Ward Beecher

Let books be your dining table,
And you shall be full of delights
Let them be your mattress
And you shall sleep restful nights.
St. Ephraem Syrus

Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other folks have lent me.
Anatole France

Consider what you have in the smallest chosen library. A company of the wisest and wittiest men that could be picked out of all civil countries, in a 1000 years, have set in best order the results of their learning and wisdom. The men themselves were hid and inaccessible, solitary, impatient of interruption, fenced by etiquette; but the thought which they did not uncover to their bosom friend is here written out in transparent words to us, the strangers of another age.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Libraries are not made; they grow.
Augustine Birrell

Knowing that I loved my books, he furnished me,
From mine own library with volumes that
I prize above my dukedom.
William Shakespeare,
“The Tempest”

The true University of these days is a Collection of Books.
Thomas Carlyle

Man, the imperfect librarian, may be the product of chance or of malevolent demiurgi; the universe, with its elegant endowment of shelves, of enigmatical volumes, of inexhaustible stairways for the traveller and latrines for the seated librarian, can only be the work of a god.
Jean Luis Borges,
“The Library of Babel”

For him that stealeth a Book from this Library, let it change into a serpent in his hand and rend him. Let him be struck with Palsy, and all his Members blasted. Let him languish in Pain crying aloud for Mercy and let there be no sur-cease to his Agony till he sink in Dissolution. Let Bookworms gnaw his Entrails in token of the Worm that dieth not, and when at last he goeth to his final Punishment, let the flames of Hell consume him for ever and aye.
Curse against book stealers, from the Monastery of San Pedro, Barcelona

The medicine chest of the soul
Inscription over the door of the Library at Thebes

Nutrimentum spiritus (Food for the soul)
Inscription on the Berlin Royal Library

A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.
Henry Ward Beecher

A little library growing each year is an honorable part of a man’s history.
Henry Ward Beecher

The library is not a shrine for the worship of books. It is not a temple where literary incense must be burned or where one’s devotion to the bound book is expressed in ritual. A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas — a place where history comes to life.
Norman Cousins

Librarian is a service occupation. Gas station attendant of the mind.
Richard Powers

A great library contains the diary of the human race.
George Mercer Dawson

A good library is a place, a palace where the lofty spirits of all nations and generations meet.
Samuel Niger

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.
Jorge Luis Borges

The student has his Rome, his Florence, his whole glowing Italy, within the four walls of his library. He has in his books the ruins of an antique world and the glories of a modern one.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.
Andrew Carnegie

The reflections and histories of men and women throughout the world are contained in books….America’s greatness is not only recorded in books, but it is also dependent upon each and every citizen being able to utilize public libraries.
Terence Cooke

Unprovided with original learning, unformed in the habits of thinking, unskilled in the arts of composition, I resolved to write a book.
Edward Gibbon

The profession of book-writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.
John Steinbeck

There’s nothing to match curling up with a good book when there’s a repair job to be done around the house.
Joe Ryan

I never desire to converse with a man who has written more than he has read.
Samuel Johnson

The only sensible ends of literature are, first, the pleasurable toil of writing; second, the gratification of one’s family and friends; and lastly, the solid cash.
Nathaniel Hawthorne

I read part of it all the way through.
Samuel Goldwyn

I have read your book and much like it.
Moses Hadas

Thank you for sending me a copy of your book. I’ll waste no time reading it.
Moses Hadas

This book fills a much-needed gap.
Moses Hadas

Never judge a book by its movie.
J. W. Eagan

This novel is not to be tossed lightly aside, but hurled with great force.
Dorothy Parker

Sartor Resartus is simply unreadable, and for me that always sort of spoils a book.
Will Cuppy


From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.
Groucho Marx

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.
Groucho Marx

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.
Groucho Marx

The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.
Agatha Christie

When I am dead, I hope it may be said:
‘His sins were scarlet, but his books were read.’
Hilaire Belloc

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