• 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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The cheeping kitchen

A month ago a neighbor phoned to ask if I had a broody hen under which he could slip some wild turkey eggs he’d obtained from an acquaintance in Edmonton. I told him I didn’t have any broody hens at the moment, but we did have an incubator in the storage room that we could set up. The kids were thrilled to see the incubator come out again, and we put in the turkey eggs and filled up the rest with chicken eggs from our hens. Yesterday was the big day, and while the turkeys seem to be duds — maybe too much time went by getting them to us, though I’m still holding out hope — the chicks are coming out on schedule, popping out like popcorn. At the moment, I have a straw-filled box in the kitchen with four black chicks and seven yellow ones, in various stages of fluffing out. A few more are working on their escape in incubator.

Since yesterday the kids have been spending their time either at the incubator or by the box, sometimes with a meal so they don’t miss anything, from rocking and then cheeping eggs, to the first chip, to a small wet bird unfolding itself. Davy was the first to discover a hatched chick, and so he has spent hours cradling “his” chick. And last night, Laura was inspired to practice “Edelweiss” on the piano as a chick lullaby, which apparently worked as the cheeping stopped for about 15 minutes. Later this morning we’ll take the box to the corrals and set up the chicks in their new home in the second, empty coop, away from their bossy mothers. A box of chicks is cute only for about a day.

It’s been an eggy summer. The bluebird eggs hatched before Tom had a chance to move them out of the swather tube, so he moved the nest with babies instead to a wooden tube he made for them. The adult birds accepted the new container, and the babies seem to be doing well; we have to use a flashlight to peer in, and with its help can see the dud egg that didn’t hatch. The killdeer is getting used to us as we check on her daily and sometimes doesn’t even get off her nest with the broken wing routine; I got some nice close-ups of her the other day. The coots and ducks in the ponds are swimming around with their new families — in some cases, their second families of the summer.

Updated: Occurred to me to include information about our incubator, in case someone is interested. The model we bought about 10 years ago is a Styrofoam Hovabator with a picture window and a turbo fan, and I’m ever so glad we sprang for the optional automatic plastic egg turner, which I highly recommend for saving considerable wear and tear on adoptive parents. We bought ours from the Canadian country living/farm supply company Berry Hill, and I see at the Berry Hill website that Hovabator has replaced our old model with this one, which is available either as a thermal air flow or circulated air model, and includes a sanitary plastic liner. The classic manual on the subject is A Guide to Better Hatching by Janet Stromberg, who knows what she’s talking about because the family business, now in its fourth generation, is Stromberg’s Chicks and Gamebirds hatchery; you can buy the book wherever you buy your incubator.

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