• 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.


Shannon at Phat Mommy has a terrific idea:

Many people’s eyes glaze over at the mention of homeschooling, as they envision a family of ten living on the homestead and wearing pilgrim-like clothing. Social misfits who’ve never heard the name Harry Potter. But alas, this is not the face of homeschooling that I know. And I often wonder if it’s the world “homeschooling” that freaks people out. …

How do you think people would react if I said, “Oh, my kids don’t go to school. They’re learning how to think for themselves out in the world. They read and write and research their interests on the internet and at the library. They travel and take field trips and, my gosh, their schedule is just so full of social activities that they simply aren’t able to spend entire days in school! Homeschool? No, we’re not homeschoolers. We’re worldlearners!”

Shannon, count us in, and if you’re making T-shirts, put us down for three kiddie sizes and a totebag for me to cart along on our travels and learning adventures.

HT to Melissa at her new blog

Decoration Day: "with the choicest flowers of spring-time"

[No, I’m not a day late, I just thought I’d get the long weekends, white sales, and pool openings out of the way]

From General Order No.11, Headquarters, Grand Army of the Republic at Washington, DC, May 5, 1868, by Commander-in-Chief John A. Logan, establishing what is now known as Memorial Day:

I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose, among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foe? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their death a tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the Nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and found mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation’s gratitude,–the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan. …

If it’s Tuesday it must be Belgium

The dishwasher broke down several days ago but was a replaced by a shiny new model when the VP of appliances around here decided that after six-and-a-half years of heroic service a repair probably wouldn’t cut it. Very kind and coincidental of Sears to be holding a clearance sale of this year’s already outdated models (none had the child-lock which is apparently de rigueur now — that’s what I get for letting my toddlers unload the pointy cutlery a few years ago). Much as I appreciate the machine and the fact that he installed it the day after bringing it home, I’m hoping Tom is not counting this toward an anniversary present when the big day rolls around next month.

My truck broke down on Saturday night, spewing oil everywhere and frightening Tom into thinking that serious and hugely expensive engine repair bills were in our future. But it was only a tiny plug in an O-ring (thank goodness we’re talking about trucks and not shuttles) and should be fixed cheaply tomorrow. Until then Tom is the the official chauffeur to Swim Club, and I’ll just have to force myself to enjoy the break from my appointed rounds.

Oh, when we went back to town yesterday morning — and it was so very much not in my plans to wake up bright and early on a Sunday morning and spend the time looking into the hood of an ailing truck — we ended up bringing back our friends’ two kids while the friends’ went househunting. Good news though. Not only did all the kids have fun together yesterday (and honestly, at this point I don’t even notice the addition of another two kids) but our friends have decided to postpone the househunting (scary house prices in Edmonton among other things) and think about staying here. A very very big hurray from all of us.

The last heifer calved and we have nine babies, the last one last night a little bull calf (for a total of two males, seven females, and one open heifer who will, sadly, be sold) appropriately named Rainey.

It’s still raining. That makes seven days and counting. Farming neighbors and friends are starting to tear their hair out and mutter weirdly, especially since Crop Insurance requires that all crops be seeded by May 31st, which would be…tomorrow. Good luck, even with pontoons on the tractor. Tom has decided we have so little land left to seed that if necessary he’ll summerfallow it. But the weather hasn’t kept the kids from roaming around outside, on bike and on foot, or from building and outfitting a “fort” under some bushes outside near the side of the road. So much for my hope that this was good stay-indoors-and-get-the-schooling-done weather.

Homeschool funding paperwork due Wednesday.

Last official day of piano lessons is tomorrow (unofficially Laura has one lesson to make up next week) and piano recital is Friday evening. And I’m trying to decide what to do about music lessons because this year was decidedly uninspiring, especially for Laura. Learned on the weekend about the hint of a possibility of voice lessons, guitar lessons (classical), and another piano teacher (offering classical or jazz) in town next year. If so, may trade Laura’s piano lessons for voice, and trade Daniel’s piano teacher in for a more inspiring model. Davy still holding out for banjo lessons though. By the way, have not put nearly as much thought into curriculum plans as I have for extracurriculars. If this concerns you more than it does me, drop by Lynx and be comforted and amazed. I am, knowing that she has Grades 5 through 12 already sorted out for me. Thank you, my dear…

Wednesday is the last day of Brownies and Friday one of the girls in the troop is having a big party at her house since the troop isn’t making it to the big Revel (think Jamboree for Girl Guides) up in Cold Lake on Saturday, a schlep of about three hours by car or truck, and they’re supposed to be there at 9 a.m. No wonder all the parents said no thanks.

Local production of “The Pied Piper,” modernized and musicalized and starring some friends (mother and two kids) terrific. Quickly reread Browning’s poem to the kids last week because I figured Davy wouldn’t remember much from last year. Definitely helped, even though the golf-playing, secretary-chasing mayor wasn’t in the original.

Just enrich their lives

Roger Sutton at Read Roger has a post today worth your time, especially if you have a child at home. He’s been reading through an autographed advance copy of Marni Nixon‘s I Could Have Sung All Night: My Story and offers the following from Miss Nixon on Leonard Bernstein, with whom she worked on his Young People’s Concerts: “Lenny had the innovative and wonderful notion (to which I wholly subscribe) that if we exposed children to the best that music had to offer it would enrich their lives.”

As Roger adds,

Forget about Mozart for your baby getting the kids into Harvard. Just “enrich their lives.” I wonder if we will ever again learn to treat reading for children with the same simplicity.

Well worth reading the comment, too.

Summer reading list time: Canadiana

While browsing around the other day looking for an audio CD version of W.O. Mitchell’s Who Has Seen the Wind, which seems to available through interlibrary loan only in audiocassette edition, I was reminded that online CanLit specialist Northwest Passages (based in real life in Vancouver) has what is probably the largest set of Canadian literature links on the Internet, from book, author, publisher, and literary award lists to some lovely poetry sites, author websites and more. A truly public-spirited gift.

Also, while Northwest Passages is an online bookseller, there are people there behind the computers, specifically people who know and read and love books. Which include Canadian fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, and literary criticism, with a special link on the main page for “Hockey Lit” (not to be confused with “Hockey Writing in Canada”). There are also links for “Multimedia” where you can find lots of books, including Who Has Seen the Wind, on audio cd.

Fay Wray’s day

Today Cardston, Alberta, native Fay Wray was honored with her own stamp by Canada Post, as part of the “Canadians in Hollywood” series. The other stamps include Mary Pickford (who was Canada’s sweetheart first) and — I kid you not — Lorne Greene and John Candy.

Wake up and smell the cookies

Heidi at 101 Cookbooks offers up a recipe for Triple Chocolate Espresso Bean Cookies, which I think I can smell through my computer. Give the kids some homemade chocolate chip cookies, and save these for the grownups.