• 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."

    "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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Not a good week

On Monday morning, Tom’s youngest brother — 37 years old and the father of three kids under the age of 11 — had a stroke.

Fortunately, neither he nor his wife had left for work yet, and she was able to get him into their van to drive to the small hospital nearby. Assessing his amnesia and beyond-bloodshot eyes, the doctors and nurses realized right away that he needed to get to the experts at the University of Alberta hospital — two-and-a-half hours away — immediately. We got the news just as the ambulance was taking off, in a phone call from my sobbing mother-in-law. Fortunately and unusually, Tom was at home, having stopped in to pick up some more tools.

We spent the next 24 hours waiting for news. By Tuesday afternoon, we’d learned that it was definitely a stroke — we still haven’t heard much more than that — but in a way that information has been confusing for the family. How could someone so young, so healthy, so strong (he’s a big guy who’d still be playing intramural hockey if his knees had held up), and presumably without any of the risk factors (we’re not sure about the high blood pressure) get a stroke? Or as a friend of both Tom and his brother said to me yesterday when he phoned for any news, “If Mike can get a stroke, then anyone can.”

Aside from jumping every time the phone rings and being consumed with wondering what life will be like for Mike, his wife, and their kids after this and if (please, please, please) it will ever go back to normal, or near normal, the other thought all of us have had is that one. If it can happen to him, it can happen to anyone — to me, my husband. And we won’t have any warning.

I thought back to the day before this all happened. I don’t care too much about leaving a sinkful of dirty dishes, a kitchen floor that needs mopping, a pile of unfiled papers, or even a head that needs shampooing when the ambulance comes and life as I know it is gone forever. But…did we remember to check on the kids last night and watch them for a bit as they slept, the quilts rising and falling gently with their breaths? Did I agree to the pleas for “just another chapter” for their bedtime readaloud or did I firmly shoo them to bed so I could jump in the shower? Did Tom and I have a chance to talk for a bit before bed, rather than just exchanging a quick list of what we each needed the other to do the next day? Did we all remember goodbye kisses when Daddy left in the morning? Did I decide to fold laundry in the living room with the kids while we all watched our new kids’ DVD of Midsummer Night’s Dream rather than hop on the computer quickly to check my email? We have more yeses than nos when we do the tally, which is good.

Then again, you can’t really live each day as if it might be your last, can you? But I think you can try to do your best, especially for your own family and for yourself. I’m haunted right now by the fact that those memories of that last day of doing your best — or not — may be what you take with you in that ambulance, that hospital bed, and beyond. This is definitely a time for time, and patience, and waiting, and seeing. And hoping.

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