• 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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Trick or treat

Trick: still no progress on the computer front. Though I did learn that Apple gives homeschoolers discounts (on iPods too): www.apple.com/education/k12/homeschool.

Treat: Tom and I are off to Regina, Saskatchewan (seven hours away…) this weekend for an organic farming symposium. I’m a bit put off by the thought of the three-hour soil fertility seminar on Saturday morning, but it will be wonderful to have almost three whole days together, especially after the fun that is a nearly three-month harvest… And of course there’s the proximity to stores — book stores, music stores, clothing stores. And the museum, where I think I might be able to find some fun treats for the kids in the shop.

Treat: Tom finally realized that he had to buy a new truck, and his 1978 pickup, in dire need of new tires and a new transmission, has been pensioned off. The replacement is a new-to-us 2003 Ford F-150, shiny black, the Lariat with leather seats (the front two of which can be heated if you press a switch), a six-CD changer, sun roof, and more. Tom offered me the new one, but my huge honking F-350 is more of a tank and so safer with the kids. What can I say, I’m practical to a fault.

Treat: Speaking of being practical, last year for our 10th anniversary I asked for an addition to the kitchen instead of, oh, a diamond ring or expensive trip. Tom started the foundation this week, hurray! It won’t be finished any time soon, because it will be worked on in fits and starts in between the paying clients, but it’s underway : )

Treat: Saw over at Schola that L. and her family are safe in the wake of Wilma. Relief.

Trick: Davy’s passport application was returned, sigh. The pictures taken in town didn’t make the cut, so we’ll have to drive nearly an hour to the east to the nearest Wal-Mart, re-do the application and have our guarantor sign everything including photos again, and then go to Edmonton, two hours to the west, to take everything to the Alberta passport office, much faster than mailing it. Because the kid has to have a passport by January or he’s not coming with us to the West Indies to see my parents. The good news is that this predicament will force a trip to Edmonton, where my laptop is in the hospital.

Trick: The kids keep changing their minds about Halloween costumes. At last count, I have a clown, a soldier, and a Ukrainian dancer. But apparently that’s all subject to change, and often.

Must run. Laura’s Brownies Halloween party is done, and it’s time to head home. See you after Regina.


No news…

isn’t necessarily good news on the computer front. Haven’t heard from the Apple repair guys about the dead laptop yet and just may have to phone them in the next day or two (yes, the withdrawal pangs are awful, though I was distracted from them on Sunday by my bout of the 24-hour stomach virus, passed along by the kids in domino fashion).

We’ve been in town all day today, first the library book sale, then a homeschool field trip to the college farm where I got to cuddle a five-day-old piglet (shades of Wilbur), then piano lessons, and now while I have my free hour of computer time at the library, the kids are at the monthly homeschool gym day, playing dodgeball to a salsa soundtrack.

Tom’s truck is ailing again, and I’m hoping he buys a new one by the end of today so we can stop this sharing business. Though I should be kinder — last night he told me that my long-awaited kitchen addition project might start in a few weeks. Woohoo! I’m imagining a large box added on to the existing bowling alley, with built in bookcases on the east wall (with cabinets on the bottom) and a big chalkboard on the west wall, and a north wall full of windows.

Must run before the kids turn into pumpkins across town…

How to bring Thanksgiving dinner with a bunch of public school teachers to a screeching halt with Pyramus and Frisbee

At dinner on Sunday, Tom’s brother asked our youngest (not quite 5) if he knew any good stories. So excited he almost fell off his chair, Davy announced loudly, “Yes! Pyramus and Frisbee and the wall. And Puck is very funny, too.” He then proceeded to tell everyone the story of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” — new to more than a few of our relatives, including the three public school teachers present — which the kids have been enjoying on DVD thanks to Shakespeare4Kidz, an English outfit.

Then, just as I felt able to lift my head up from my plate and glance around, Laura said thoughtfully, chewing some pie, “I think the myth of Pyramus and Thisbe is where Shakespeare got the idea for Romeo & Juliet. Don’t you think so, Uncle Steve?”

And then Tom kicked me under the table and started laughing.

Denim Jumper

Thanks to Poppins, we now have Denim Jumper, www.thedenimjumper.com . Thanks, Poppins!


The most amazing thing happened last week, on Tuesday at the library while I was checking my email (and mourning my poor computer, which as of today has finally made it to the Apple doctor, though I don’t think the news will be good, or cheap). I had told the kids I needed them to behave and be good (and quiet) at the library for an hour while we were there, and Laura rolled her eyes and pouted and snarked, “WHAT am I going to do at the library for a whole hour?” (this is my daughter? The result of our family’s “literacy rich environment”, as the public school experts would put it?). She was even contemplating staying in the truck and listening to an audio cd for the entire time. But I told her that wasn’t an option.

Well, we turned up at the library after piano and found some home schooling friends with an almost 9 year-old-daughter. For some reason, Laura grabbed a new Magic Tree House book off the shelf, and she and the other sat together in one chair and after about 50 minutes Laura raced up to me at the computer and delightedly told me that she had read the whole book.

Bingo. Ever since, my formerly reluctant reader has been an avid bookworm and has been gulping down at least a book a day. This, after I considered everything from eye doctors, bribing her with money and treats (which didn’t appeal to either of us, though for different reasons), plying her with books on all of her favorite subjects and interests (horses, princesses, history, etc.). She’d read when she had to, but not on her own time. Now I have to pull her out of bed in the morning, where she’s hunkered down with her bedside lamp and another book. She’s rereading — her own idea — a lot of things she read before when she wasn’t particularly interested in the reading process, which is a rather interesting development.

I’m dizzy and delighted at the change, especially so soon after the unsuccessful visit to the optometrist. I don’t know what happened — if there was any physical change (the letters not looking so small) or if she just needed the confidence to see that she could read a book on her own (and then realize that it was fun). Laura is busy making piles of books in her room — what to tackle when the Magic Tree House stream dries up — and lists of possibilities for me to order for her via interlibrary loan. And books she wants for Christmas. And supplementary SOTW3 books she wants to read on her on. The only thing I’m not too crazy about is her self-imposed absences from our family absences so she can read on her own. But I can’t really complain about that too much, can I?

Another thing to be thankful for this coming weekend. Happy Thanksgiving, eh?