• 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.

Outdoor life, or, How to have an old-fashioned, dangerous summer

A city-living friend, who always seems half-alarmed and half-amused by the fact that my kids tend to go through their days fully armed (pockets full of slingshots, jackknives, cap pistols, and lengths of rope, the latter of which came in surprisingly handy the other week when we had to move a neighbor’s sheep) and whose idea of fun is to leap off bale stacks and on and off a moving horse, emailed me the recent Guardian article about new UK publishing sensation, The Dangerous Book for Boys by novelist Conn Iggulden and his brother Hal. My friend wanted to know if I’d heard of the book, if I would recommend it for her city boy, and if I’d be buying it for my three desperadoes. “It tells you how to make a tripwire, you know,” she wrote.

I wrote back that, based on what I’d read about The Dangerous Book, what she really wants is The American Boy’s Handy Book written and beautifully illustrated by Daniel Carter Beard, the American outdoorsman and illustrator whose Sons of Daniel Boone organization was a precursor of the Boy Scouts. Available for half the price of The Dangerous Book and endangering lives for more than 100 years, the Boy’s Handy Book includes such projects and activities as How to Rig and Sail Small Boats (so you too can spend all summer dodging drowning just like the siblings in Swallows & Amazons), Home-Made Hunting Apparatus, How to Make Blow-Guns, Practical Taxidermy for Boys, and, proving that danger lurks year-round, Snowball Warfare. In fact, with the extra money, you can also buy The American Girl’s Handy Book by Daniel’s sisters, Lina and Adelia, rather more genteel but equally nostalgic and useful; or Daniel Beard’s Field and Forest Handybook: New Ideas for Out of Doors. While poking around for links to share, I found this, for Daniel Carter Beard’s Online Books. Well worth a peek.

More old-fashioned outdoor summer fun, dangerous and not so, and don’t be put off by any of the “Boys” in the titles if you have girls:

The Boy Mechanic, a four-volume series by the editors of Popular Mechanics, reprinted by the good folks at the Canadian woodworking and gardening institution Lee Valley, which also offers the reprint Boy Craft

Historical Headgear, Hats and Helmets: Where History Meets Duct Tape: The Ancients by Jean Lockwood and Thomas Lockwood; think of it as Red Green meets the Story of the World activity book. The publisher, BrimWood Press, new to me, specializes in “Tools for Young Historians” — definitely worth a look. (The “Coloring the Western World” coloring book has me very, very curious despite the $18 price tag. Color me interested.) Your kids can wear their helmets while perusing and working from

The classic Backyard Ballistics by William Gurstelle, author too of The Art of the Catapult: Build Greek Ballistae, Roman Onagers, English Trebuchets, and More Ancient Artillery

Mud Pies and Other Recipes: A Cookbook for Dolls by Marjorie Winslow, illustrated by Erik Blegvad; more genteel but not necessarily tidy fun

UPDATED July 10th to add that yesterday I realized that Jen at her Book Page also had a post on the The Dangerous Book, which somehow I missed when it originally went up; I like Jen’s idea that “you could have a lot of fun with finding companion books where kids in the book engaged in some of the same activities!” By the way, now that Jen’s back from her holiday, she’s posted another one of her nifty Sunday round-ups.

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