• 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.

New for dangerous girls and daring boys

New since the beginning of the month is The Dangerous and Daring Blog for Boys and Girls — “inspired by The Dangerous Book for Boys and the upcoming The Daring Book for Girls” but “not connected in any way to the authors or publishers of those books”. Rather, the new blog is brought to you by The Llama Butchers, who I believe came to my attention through our mutual pal Melissa Wiley.

Labels/categories so far with corresponding posts include

Battles (1)
Build It (1)
Dangerous (10)
Daring (8)
History (4)
Hobby (1)
Outdoors (2)
Rocketry (2)
Science (1)
Stories (1)

Wowie! I believe I know a few children out on the open prairie who might have fun with those two rocketry posts.

Grand fun to bookmark and to add to the Bloglines subscription. Great good thanks to the LBs for the new blog, especially while there’s still plenty of summer left for unfettered, dangerous, and daring summer fun.

(I hope to post a fair report toward the end of the week, and do some general bloggy catching up. But tomorrow morning we’re off to the fairgrounds again for the day for the big volunteer clean-up.)

The still-lie down

Our beautiful, loyal 12-year-old German Shepherd, mistress of all she surveyed on the farm, died last week.

While she was older and ailing, she was nevertheless coping wonderfully and enjoying all the usual summer activities — chasing chickens, getting to know the new bull, playing and dozing with the cats, gulping down treats left over from barbecues — until she was hit by a neighbor’s truck the week before. After the first few tough days, when we thought we might lose her, she started walking again, albeit stiffly and slowly. She was rallying well until she took a turn for the worse last Tuesday. We’re all rather at sea without her now. As Davy said Wednesday morning in tears, “I knew her even before I was born.”

As a puppy, she pulled all of the plants out of my windowbox to make a more comfortable bed for herself. As a young dog, she had more than her fair share of adventures, come home from her wanders in the woods and fields smelling of skunk, with a face full of porcupine quills, soaking wet from a quick dip in the pond on a hot day. One early winter I saw her coming across the field lugging what I thought was a long tree branch. It turned out to be the haunch of deer who had died in the trees. She welcomed the arrival of new small people around here, though she occasional knocked them over with her enthusiastic tail, and never showed them anything but love and affection, even in her last moments.

From “Dogs” by Harold Monro (1879-1932), for our friend. We will talk about you and remember you, dear, in the light of candles and in the sunshine.

Thus, for your walk, we took ourselves, and went
Out by the hedge, and tree, to the open ground.
You ran, in delightful strata of wafted scent,
Over the hill without seeing the view;
Beauty is hinted through primitive smells to you:
And that ultimate Beauty you track is but rarely found.

Home . . . and further joy will be waiting there:
Supper full of the lovely taste of bone,
You lift up your nose again, and sniff, and stare
For the rapture known
Of the quick wild gorge of food, then the still lie-down;
While your people will talk above you in the light
Of candles, and your dreams will merge and drown
Into the bed-delicious hours of night.

Country fair time!

The latest Country Fair of Homeschooling is up and ready to go. Meg is hosting this month — thank you, Meg!

And I’m a day late with the news because I’ve been busy with our real life country fair, now celebrating its 101st year. The kids and I were at the work bee on Saturday, at the exhibit hall arranging and tidying yesterday, and tomorrow I’m at the hall all day helping to accept and arrange entries. The kids are busy today with last minute Lego creations to enter, the boys finished their wood projects last night, the sheaves are tied and ready to go. The fair opens Thursday, and we’ll be at the fairgrounds bright and early to drop off our pen of five chickens and Laura’s heifer, then we race back into town for the parade, then back to the fairgrounds for lunch and the chicken show. And that’s just part of the first day.

So I’ll be scarce around here until after the fair. It ends Saturday night, then we rest and recover Sunday, then back to the fairgrounds Monday for the volunteer clean-up. Tuesday I’ll probably have to clean the house and tend the garden. And did I mention it’s still hot? Yesterday we hit 35 degrees Celsius, and I heard our province was the hot spot for Canada for the day.

And in between everything, I’m sneaking peeks at Little Heathens, which finally arrived in yesterday’s mail…

Poetry Friday: Gardening and grammar, with Guy Wetmore Carryl

Two poems from Guy Wetmore Carryl’s Grimm Tales Made Gay (1903):

How a Girl Was Too Reckless of Grammar by Far
by Guy Wetmore Carryl (1873-1904)

Matilda Maud Mackenzie frankly hadn’t any chin,
Her hands were rough, her feet she turned invariably in;
Her general form was German,
By which I mean that you
Her waist could not determine
To within a foot or two:
And not only did she stammer,
But she used the kind of grammar
That is called, for sake of euphony, askew.

From what I say about her, don’t imagine I desire
A prejudice against this worthy creature to inspire.
She was willing, she was active,
She was sober, she was kind,
But she never looked attractive
And she hadn’t any mind!
I knew her more than slightly,
And I treated her politely
When I met her, but of course I wasn’t blind!

Matilda Maud Mackenzie had a habit that was droll,
She spent her morning seated on a rock or on a knoll,
And threw with much composure
A smallish rubber ball
At an inoffensive osier
By a little waterfall;
But Matilda’s way of throwing
Was like other people’s mowing,
And she never hit the willow-tree at all!

One day as Miss Mackenzie with uncommon ardor tried
To hit the mark, the missile flew exceptionally wide,
And, before her eyes astounded,
On a fallen maple’s trunk
Ricochetted, and rebounded
In the rivulet, and sunk!
Matilda, greatly frightened,
In her grammar unenlightened,
Remarked: “Well now I ast yer! Who’d ‘er thunk?”

But what a marvel followed! From the pool at once there rose
A frog, the sphere of rubber balanced deftly on his nose.
He beheld her fright and frenzy,
And, her panic to dispel,
On his knee by Miss Mackenzie
He obsequiously fell.
With quite as much decorum
As a speaker in a forum
He started in his history to tell

“Fair maid,” he said, “I beg you, do not hesitate or wince,
If you’ll promise that you’ll wed me, I’ll at once become a prince;
For a fairy old and vicious
An enchantment round me spun!”
Then he looked up, unsuspicious,
And he saw what he had won,
And in terms of sad reproach he
Made some comments, sotto voce,*

* (Which the publishers have bidden me to shun!)

Matilda Maud Mackenzie said, as if she meant to scold:
“I never! Why, you forward thing! Now ain’t you awful bold!”
Just a glance he paused to give her,
And his head was seen to clutch,
Then he darted to the river,
And he dived to beat the Dutch!
While the wrathful maiden panted:
“I don’t think he was enchanted!”
(And he really didn’t look it overmuch!

The Moral: In one’s language one conservative should be:
Speech is silver, and it never should be free!

How Jack Found that Beans May Go Back On a Chap
by Guy Wetmore Carryl

Without the slightest basis
For hypochondriasis
A widow had forebodings
Which a cloud around her flung,
And with expression cynical
For half the day a clinical
Thermometer she held
Beneath her tongue.

Whene’er she read the papers
She suffered from the vapors,
At every tale of malady
Or accident she’d groan;
In every new and smart disease,
From housemaid’s knee to heart disease,
She recognized the symptoms
As her own!

She had a yearning chronic
To try each novel tonic,
Elixir, panacea, lotion,
Opiate, and balm;
And from a homeopathist
Would change to an hydropathist,
And back again,
With stupefying calm!

She was nervous, cataleptic,
And anemic, and dyspeptic:
Though not convinced of apoplexy,
Yet she had her fears.
She dwelt with force fanatical
Upon a twinge rheumatical,
And said she had a
Buzzing in her ears!

Now all of this bemoaning
And this grumbling and this groaning
The mind of Jack, her son and heir,
Unconscionably bored.
His heart completely hardening,
He gave his time to gardening,
For raising beans was
Something he adored.

Each hour in accents morbid
This limp maternal bore bid
Her callous son affectionate
And lachrymose good-bys.
She never granted Jack a day
Without some long “Alackaday!”
Accompanied by
Rolling of the eyes.

But Jack, no panic showing,
Just watched his beanstalk growing,
And twined with tender fingers
The tendrils up the pole.
At all her words funereal
He smiled a smile ethereal,
Or sighed an absent-minded
“Bless my soul!”

That hollow-hearted creature
Would never change a feature:
No tear bedimmed his eye, however
Touching was her talk.
She never fussed or flurried him,
The only thing that worried him
Was when no bean-pods
Grew upon the stalk!

But then he wabbled loosely
His head, and wept profusely,
And, taking out his handkerchief
To mop away his tears,

Exclaimed: “It hasn’t got any!”
He found this blow to botany
Was sadder than were all
His mother’s fears.

The Moral is that gardeners pine
Whene’er no pods adorn the vine.
Of all sad words experience gleans
The saddest are: “It might have beans.”
(I did not make this up myself:
‘Twas in a book upon my shelf.
It’s witty, but I don’t deny
It’s rather Whittier than I!)

* * *

Guy Wetmore Carryl (1873-1904) was an American writer of humorous verse, serious poetry, short stories, and novels. He was the son of Mary Wetmore and New York stockbroker and writer of verse and children’s stories Charles Edward Carryl (1842-1920); the senior Carryl was influenced profoundly by the fantasy writings and nonsense verse of Lewis Carroll. In fact, Charles Carryl dedicated his 1884 book Davy and the Goblin; Or, What Followed Reading “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland” to his then 11-year-old son Guy.

Guy Carryl grew up in New York City and attended Columbia University, where he scandalized his Latin professor, emininent classicist Harry Thurston Peck (1856-1914), with his epigram, “It takes two bodies to make one seduction.” Carryl graduated from Columbia in 1895.

The following year, Carryl went to work as a staff writer for the New York monthly magazine Munsey’s, described by its founder Frank Munsey as a popular journal “with pictures and art and Good Cheer and human interest throughout”. He later became the journal’s managing editor. Thereafter, Carryl worked for Harper’s Magazine, which sent him to Paris. While there, he also wrote for a variety of other American publications, including Life Magazine, Munsey’s, and Collier’s.

He is best known for his books of verse, including Fables for the Frivolous (with Apologies to La Fontaine) (1899 and yet another reason to pursue a classical education or at least read poetry), Mother Goose for Grown-Ups (1900), and Grimm Tales Made Gay (1903); The Transgression of Andrew Vane (1902) and Zut and Other Parisians (1903), books of short stories; and, perhaps the best of his three novels, The Lieutenant-Governor (1903).

Carryl died in 1904 at the age of 31. It was thought he contracted “rheumatic grippe” (possibly rheumatic fever) and blood poisoning from exposure fighting a fire at his New York bungalow the month before his untimely death. His works Far From the Maddening Girls and The Garden of Years were published posthumously.

* * *

A good many of the writings of Guy Wetmore Carryl survive online, and while he’s not as popular as he used to be, or as popular as some other poets, he does have a devoted following. Here’s a sampling:

Heidi Anne Heiner has a wonderful selection from Carryl’s Grimm Tales Made Gay at her wonderful and thorough SurLaLune Fairy Tale Pages website.

Project Gutenberg has Fables for the Frivolous online; and LibriVox offers the Fables as a free audiobook

The Wondering Minstrels online collection of poetry, including one of Carryl’s serious poems and one fable for the frivolous

A few more poems, at Poetry Archive

“Marvelous Coney Island”, an article Carryl wrote for Munsey’s Magazine, published in 1901. Interesting to speculate if the camel at Luna Park, the Coney Island amusement park, was the same animal that inspired his father (scroll down to “The Plaint of the Camel”, available, by the way, in picture book form as The Camel’s Lament).

The Poetry Friday round-up is at Mentor Texts & More today. Thanks to LiteracyTeacher for hosting!

Poetry Friday: A very sad sonnet

We’re in the third day of what’s supposed to be a five-day heat wave, with temperatures over 30 Celsius (in the 90s F). We don’t have an air conditioner or even a ceiling fan, so the trick here is to close all the windows and pull the shades and curtains around 10 a.m. before the heat of the day comes wafting in. I open everything up around 8 pm, though the sun is still shining. Supper tonight will be vichyssoise (and no, the leeks aren’t particularly local) and some more wild raspberries the kids discovered are ripe for the picking.

Tom is working just south of our house, on a house in the woods at the acreages, so the kids spend their days biking back and forth, helping Tom, filling his water jug, fetching popsicles from our freezer for the hot and sweaty builders.

A neighbor of ours had promised the kids a cat, but it wasn’t until the kids were in the truck with the cat in their laps that the neighbor casually mentioned Kitty was pregnant. Davy renamed her Ann Miller, Laura named her Judy (Garland), and I suggested Judy Ann as, apparently, a not very good compromise. She’s settling in nicely despite the name confusion. According to Davy, the kittens will be named, depending on sex, Frank (Sinatra), Gene (Kelly), Fred (Astaire), Ginger (Rogers), Debbie (Reynolds), etc. This from the kids who named some of this year’s calves Roy (Rogers), Dale (Evans), Frank (Butler), and Annie (Oakley). Never a dull or modern moment around here.

Very Sad Sonnet
by Arthur Guiterman (1871-1943)

When as I count the many years I’ve risen
And bathed and brushed my teeth and
shaved and dressed,
How many years within this earthly prison
I’ve slaved and toiled, how many years
By social obligations, borne the numbing
Persistency of transcendental bores,
How many years I’ve bothered with the
The window-screens and countless household chores,
How many years, with problems to unravel,
I’ve faced all kinds of sorrow, pain and care —
The income tax return, the ills of travel,
The awful doubt of what one ought to wear —
Oh, then I think, befogged with dark misgiving,
How much I would have saved by never

* * *

Arthur Guiterman was an American poet and writer of light verse. He was born in Vienna, of American parents, in 1871. The family returned to the United States, where Guiterman graduated from the College of the City of New York (present-day City College) in 1891. He was a cofounder in 1910 of the Poetry Society of America, serving as its president in 1925-26.

Today’s Lucky 13 Poetry Friday Round-up can be found at Chicken Spaghetti. Thanks Susan!

Still in the garden

The raised bed flower garden behind the house, back in May.

Same raised bed flower garden behind the house, in the last week. Columbines at far right, poppies to their left, tall things in the center are monkshood. I’m happiest when the cows and calves stay on their side of the barbed wire fence (in the background, at right).

Same raised bed, last week, but from the other end.

Same raised bed, other side. Large rounded clump at far right is a type of daisy. I hacked back the catmint at the front along the corner, so it wouldn’t go to seed and stop blooming.

In the garden and around the farm

The kids’ frog farm, with tadpoles and baby frogs found in the ditch by the house. Tom says he’s never seen as many frogs as we have this year because of all the rains. Odd to think as children that I did more tadpole hunting, albeit at the Bronx and Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, than my country husband.

A closer view of one of the older frogs. Yes, one of the kids thought that the frog needed some lettuce from the garden.

The neighbors’ derelict barn, amidst the (genetically modified) canola…