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

A couple of ideas

from an admitted layman.

To Prime Minister Paul Martin of Canada: You might want to send help now. “Standing by”, offering official sympathies (mentioned as an aside during an already-scheduled telephone exchange about softwood lumber), and leaving the deputy PM to do most of the work aren’t all that, well, statesmanlike. Really rather underwhelming and makes one understand why we just got our wrists slapped over the lumber business, and why mad cow is still such a delicate issue. We might also want to remind the Americans about our little rule (they have to ask first, like playing “Mother May I”) to authorize DART, so we can send the team sooner rather than later, as happened after the tsunami. Interesting that British Columbia has responded before the federal government.

To President George Bush: Psssst. You could get out of Iraq and save face by recalling the Army and putting them to work cleaning up and rebuilding New Orleans, Biloxi, and the rest of the Gulf coast. Just think about it….

Back-to-school day in Alberta, or, So you’re thinking about home schooling…

Today is the first day of school for Alberta public and separate (Catholic) schools, so in honor of that fateful day, two years ago, when Laura came off the school bus — a two-hour roundtrip, by the way — in tears after her first day of first grade (or Grade One as it’s known up here) because “they’re doing baby work and you have to go tell the teacher I know it already,” an incomplete and highly subjective list of links from my admittedly short trip around the homeschooling block…


  • Chris has done a masterful job summarizing John Taylor Gatto’s Underground History of American Education here. If you want to read the whole thing online for yourself, go to Gatto’s website, from which you can also buy an old-fashioned bound copy.
  • Lynx at One-Sixteenth has done a masterful job summarizing Albert Nock’s book, The Theory of Education in the United States, based on a series of lectures he delivered at the University of Virginia in 1931, here at her blog (part I) and here (part II)


  • Homeschooling for Dummies by Jennifer Kaufeld; much better than you might think based on just the title, series, or yellow cover

Nuts and Bolts and Links

  • Paula’s Archives, a wealth of information and links, especially for the classical homeschooler


  • Rainbow Resource Center, probably the largest homeschooling catalogue in the U.S. Great prices, amazing selection. The catalogue is free and approaching the size of the Manhattan phone book.

Hurricane/Flood Relief and Information

A partial list, from The New York Times:

Relief Organizations:
Charity Navigator; information on various charities and ways to donate to the relief effort.
Red Cross or 1-800-HELP-NOW
Salvation Army or 1-800-SAL-ARMY
Episcopal Relief & Development or 1-800-334-7626
United Methodist Committee on Relief or 1-800-554-8583
Catholic Charities or 1-800-919-9338
FEMA Charity tips
National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Operation Blessing or 1-800-436-6348
America’s Second Harvest or 1-800-344-8070
Adventist Community Services or 1-800-381-7171
Christian Disaster Response or 1-941-956-5183 or 1-941-551-9554
Christian Reformed World Relief Committee or 1-800-848-5818
Church World Service or 1-800-297-1516
Convoy of Hope or 1-417-823-8998
Lutheran Disaster Response or 1-800-638-3522
Mennonite Disaster Service or 1-717-859-2210
Nazarene Disaster Response or 1-888-256-5886
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance or 1-800-872-3283
Southern Baptist Convention – Disaster Relief or 1-800-462-8657, ext. 6440

Other Information:
Federal Emergency Management Agency or 1-800-621-FEMA
City of New Orleans
Louisiana Governor’s Office
Mississippi Emergency Management
National Hurricane Center
National Weather Service
Hydrologic Information Center (river flooding)

Hurricane/Flood Relief

Had the following note this morning from Natalie in Mississippi, an online acquaintance from her postings at a Yahoo group or two and her blog. I’ll keep you posted on anything else I get from her, and will link to her blog when the information is up there. If you want to get in touch with her, too, her email contact info is at her blog, too.

Thanks for checking in. We’re in central MS in the Jackson metro area. Our neighborhood sustained some moderate damage, the worst being one home with half the roof missing. Somehow we managed to retain all our utilities, amazingly, even the satellite tv. We have some minor fence and roof damage, and that’s all. We are fully aware of how lucky we are.

We have several homeschoolers in the PEAK Coast group that have lost everything. So far, I’ve only heard from three of them. I hope the rest made it out. There’s nothing left down there. According to the stories we’ve heard, reality makes the news coverage look mild. Jeanne and I are in the process of formulating a plan for people who want to help our homeschoolers. I’ll blog it tonight, but essentially we’re directing those who wish to help immediately to the Red Cross and Salvation Army, which is looking for monetary donations. We are also asking people who wish to assist homeschoolers with materials to go ahead and start book drives or fundraising efforts now so we can coordinate and help MS homeschoolers rebuild their resources as soon as we are able (in about 6 weeks, I’m guessing).

If you’d like to coordinate local efforts to help specific families, let me know and I can put you in contact with two that I know of for sure who have literally lost everything. Just email me and I’ll put you in contact. I know that they are both going to run short on funds very soon, so that might be an area you all can help with in a homeschooler-to-homeschooler way.

As for my neck of the woods, Jackson is about 200 miles from the coast, so Katrina was a Cat. 2 when it hit just east of us. All the highways and interstates south of Jackson are closed, but some people have managed to make it to Hattiesburg (about 60 miles from the coast) only to be turned back to Jackson.

Since this is the closest anyone can get, Jackson is beginning to look like one big refugee camp. Survivors from the south are being bused in to escape the devastation while people who fled are attempting to get back down there. Everything is bottle-necking in Jackson with people waiting four-five hours to get gas, grocery stores shelves stripped bare and shelters filling to capacity. Patience is wearing thin as people get more frustrated and anxious. It’s kinda crazy out there.

Happy Centennial, Alberta!

I’m still wondering which clever educrat decided that the first day of public school would coincide with Alberta’s official birthday, especially with all the (free!) centennial celebrations being held throughout the province beginning today and running late into the night and through the weekend.

Tom, the kids, and I are taking off to the small town of Wainwright, about an hour south of our farm, to enjoy their festivities (including bison burgers) and fireworks; we’re especially looking forward to hearing the Corb Lund Band.

(Psst…Alberta is the province north of Montana. Some famous Albertans: Fay Wray, W.O. Mitchell, W.P. Kinsella, Marshall McLuhan, Joni Mitchell, Arthur Hiller, Ian Tyson, k.d. lang, Jann Arden, Paul Gross, Leslie Nielsen, Kurt Browning, Michael J. Fox, Tommy Chong, and Nickleback)

“Alberta Bound”
by Gordon Lightfoot

Oh the prairie lights are burnin’ bright
The Chinook wind is a-movin’ in
Tomorrow night I’ll be Alberta bound
Though I’ve done the best I could
My old luck ain’t been so good and
Tomorrow night I’ll be Alberta bound
No one-eyed man could e’er forget
The Rocky Mountain sunset
It’s a pleasure just to be Alberta bound
I long to see my next of kin
To know what kind of shape they’re in
Tomorrow night I’ll be Alberta bound

Alberta bound, Alberta bound
It’s good to be Alberta bound
Alberta bound, Alberta bound
It’s good to be Alberta bound

Oh the skyline of Toronto
Is somethin’ you’ll get onto
But they say you’ve got to live there for a while
And if you got the money
You can get yourself a honey
A written guarantee ta make you smile
But it’s snowin’ in the city
And the streets and brown and gritty
And I know there’s pretty girls all over town
But they never seem ta find me
And the one I left behind me
Is the reason that I’ll be Alberta bound

Alberta bound, Alberta bound
It’s good to be Alberta bound
Alberta bound, Alberta bound
It’s good to be Alberta bound
It’s good to be Alberta bound