• 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.

Christmas in the Country, Part 1

Our main holiday celebration is Christmas Eve, so, before I go off to bake lemon shortbread squares for tonight’s dessert, here’s my Christmas Eve present to all of my invisible friends, by way of Wisconsin farmer and writer Justin Isherwood, from A Farm Country Christmas:

Winter brings an armistice to the countryside. The fields lie frozen, resting from the marathon event of summer just run with the sun. A peaceful product grows now from the land.

Christmas is a farmer’s holiday. The reason is one of logistics. Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day all come in the green season, at a time when farmers cannot take liberties with their vocation. That the nation does celebrate with mass exodus all the cars packed and outward-bound to some haven, makes little difference.

Christmas comes at a time when work has cooled its fevered pace; the mows, granaries, and warehouses attest to the fulfillment of spring, summer, and harvest. The great work is finished.

Christmas has a primitive heritage. Sky watchers, who by nature were farmers, have for millenia noted the autumnal declination of the sun, noted the days becoming both shorter and colder. Because they had a direct relationship with the earth, this no doubt caused a reverberate fear the sun would sink altogether beneath the horizon, never to rise again.

Perhaps their celestial instrument was a tree seen from their habitation, perhaps a large rock. One day, two-thirds of the way through December, notice was given the sun would rise high again. This observation of the sun rising on the north side of the tree assured the farmer of the return of the sun and its connected growing season.

Modern farmers are yet tied to such ancient solar rites; some small muscle twitches at solstice. A near universal time of celebration, feast days, dances, and gift giving, its importance is held within our blood as an almost genetic response to a tilted planet’s return swing about a nearby star.

Winter always provides the struggle to survive. We have little difficulty in understanding why this is so, with blizzards and the worst cold yet to be told. The fall rush of canning, pickling, and hunting is but preparation to endure winter’s coming, to survive to a distant spring.

To be continued tomorrow, Christmas Day. Merry Christmas!

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