• 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

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    William Morris, from his lecture "The Beauty of Life"

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    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."
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    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"

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    Alice Roosevelt Longworth

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    Jean Hagen as "Lina Lamont" in "Singin' in the Rain" (1952)
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Home from the hill

Well, home from three days at the performing arts festival (piano, voice, and speech arts), which was a hill of its own.

We returned to find that it’s finally, really Spring here in our corner of the prairies. I’ve had pussy willows in a vase for a few weeks, the geese have been flying overhead in small groups for the same time, and about 10 days ago we saw our first bluebird. But on Tuesday, the sun finally came out after many dreary days. The same day, there seemed to be geese everywhere, in the fields and on the sloughs in and in the sky in great clouds. We drove home from the Laura’s piano competition that afternoon to discover a flock of several dozen robins in the bush just south of our house. The birds seem to be everywhere, not just magpies and sparrows, and fluttering about everywhere. Nearly every stand of trees has a hawk standing sentinel. And the best gift of all — as Tom opened the front the door this morning, he was greeted by the meadowlark’s song.

Which is a wonderful, very seasonal way to celebrate all of the kids’ successes at the festival. Laura, who struggles with piano lessons and practice, was gratified to receive praise and second place from the adjudicator. Davy sang his “Huron Carol” beautifully the next day, wearing his mukluks, and took second place to a 12-year-old friend with five more years of singing lessons and experience. That evening, Laura won the musical theater solo award for her song, “I’ve Got the Sun in the Morning” from “Annie Get Your Gun”. And then all three got up to do “Moses Supposes” from “Singin’ in the Rain”; we turned it into a trio (in the movie it’s a very athletic duet with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor) with a few easy dance steps (I can’t sing in tune and have no professional dance training, but you’d be surprised what you can pick up from a lifetime of watching MGM musicals — I had to laugh when the adjudicator praised the “simple but effective choreography”).

Yesterday we dispensed with the singing and dancing and moved on to speech arts. Daniel won the award for Canadian poetry, for reciting “My Toboggan and I Carve Winter” by Jane Wadley; Davy took second place, for “My Moccasins Have Not Walked” by Duke Redbird. Yes, he wore his mukluks. Both poems are in the Canadian children’s anthology Til All the Stars Have Fallen, recently republished in paperback. The boys also did lovely, expressive jobs with their Kipling poems. Laura took the narrative poetry award for reciting “Jabberwocky”, and was delighted when the adjudicator said that Laura’s recitation was one of the best she has ever heard at a festival, and almost up there with one of the adjudicator’s favorite professional recordings. The icing on the cake came at the end of the day, when Laura received the award for her 4H speech. And of course there was the treat of listening to the other entries. We are lucky to have some very, very gifted young people in our area, whose families still believe in the value of speech arts.

The kids have been asked to perform the trio routine, and Laura her poem, for the final concert on Sunday. So a very happy, and tired, bunch. As soon as we arrived home yesterday evening, Laura and I crawled into my bed and watched Danny Kaye. I fell asleep, and woke up to find Tom cooking dinner and serving the cake we had bought on the way home to celebrate.

And apparently Laura has been recommended to provincials for speech arts. I don’t have all the details yet, and don’t know that I want them anytime soon. The house is in dire need of some tidying up, I’d rather be outside, and we have animal babies to check on…


13 Responses

  1. Congratulations to you and yours!

  2. Wow, congratulations all ’round!
    I was once told a story about 4H and public speaking. A college professor assigned his class a project which involved presenting to the class. One girl stood up and did beautifully. The professor immediately asked her, “you’ve been in 4H, haven’t you?” The answer was yes, and the professor noted that his students who had been in 4H always do well with presentations.

    My kids are (were – 4H is weird here) third generation 4Hers. I’m hoping they’ll be enticed to rejoin once we’re back in CA. If not that, then for certain they’ll do Destination Imagination, which is also wonderful – in a different way – for working out those speaking fears.

  3. I am so happy to hear that it has sprung around your parts. Yesterday, the sun was out and I saw my first (as in first ever) Evening Grosbeak-added it to my bird life list-yes, I’m one of those kinds of bird lovers.

  4. Thanks, Jacqueline!

    Kris, thanks! We hear similar 4H stories a good deal. It was interesting to have her speech critiqued at 4H and also at the performing arts festival; the focus yesterday was very much on the delivery rather than the content, so it was good for Laura to get a fuller picture. The general gist for us isn’t to raise any actors or dramatic speakers, but for the kids to feel comfortable speaking in public, something that makes me squirm at just the thought. (There wasn’t any 4H in NYC, but the kids are second generation on their father’s side — we still have his old metal sign, “A 4H Member Lives Here”!)

    Mrs. G, how exciting! Everything does look better with a little sunshine, doesn’t it? What I love as much as watching the birds is listening to them. Now I can hear the geese and ducks softly honking and quacking from the slough across the road, the meadowlark singing full-throat, and the robins warbling and tut-tutting.

  5. Congratulations to all! I wish it were spring here – snow and slush. At least I’ve been able to watch the robins pick off the tiny apples left from the fall on the flowering crabs.

  6. Congratulations to all the kids. That sounds like a successful festival. You have inspired me to make sure we enter here next year in at least one category.

  7. Congratulations to all of you. 4H sounds wonderful. Haven’t found anything like it here. My oldest (at 15) realises his speaking skills need some work and has just joined an adult speech club to try and work on them.

  8. How wonderful! I was telling my clan about this, and they suggest you videotape these and upload them to YouTube for all of us to enjoy! We love “Moses Supposes” (eroniously!)

  9. A hearty well done to one and all!

    Thanks for the Danny Kaye tip – and please keep posting those babies! (the cats watching the show remains one of my most favorite photos ever :)

  10. A big congratulations to everyone! Your hard work and commitment is really impressive! I love the suggestion of video-taping the performances next year – it’d be very inspiring for a lot of kids. We just saw a flock of geese yesterday, too, and watched and listened until we couldn’t see them anymore. I’m so happy to hear spring is beginning to show for you, it’s been a long winter.

  11. Thanks, everyone, for all of the congratulations. The kids are tickled pink and just about every other color of the rainbow.

    Mary Lou, I’m sure Spring is coming to you soon! It arrived here this year in one fell swoop. I’ve never seen anything so dramatic in the 14 years I’ve lived here. What we need now is a nice cleaning rain, and I’m hoping, by the look of the clouds today, that it’s on the way.

    JoVE, it’s been a very enjoyable experience for the kids and, needless to say, educational. A much better end-of-year test than the usual end-of-year tests!

    Sandra, I didn’t 4H where I grew up either. I like the sound of the speech club, because it doesn’t make public speaking a once-a-year event. What a wonderful idea your son had!

    Angela, we’ll see. We have to figure out now how to get the recording from the camera to the Mac!

    Penny, the kids (and I) have yet to see a Danny Kaye movie we don’t like. I’ve seen all of them, and even have a DVD of old television specials and a CD collection of his best songs and bits. Now *that’s* good public speaking! I’ll try to get more babies for you. We’re waiting for some kittens now, with a heavily pregnant mama cat.

    Cami, I’ve been trying to think what else we could do with the video camera, in between performances (!), and think we’ll try our hand with some homemade amateur nature films. “Wild Kingdom” meets Charlotte Mason’s nature journals!

  12. Congratulations! A little belated, I see, but heartfelt nonetheless. This is 4H, is it? I like the sound of it. I think the only things our 4H chapters here do are animal -related, but I haven’t investigated too deeply yet.

    I told Max that Laura did Jabberwocky (which was his poem for last week) and he was flabbergasted (and secretly rather thrilled) that someone else somewhere was also doing it. Good for the kids, I say.

  13. Sheila, thank you. We are recuperating and basking, so you’re just in time : ). No, not 4H. The local performing arts/music festival, but for the speech arts part, Laura did recite her 4H speech from February. We have a variety of non-livestock clubs — crafts, baking, outdoors (rather like Scouts without the badges), small engine. Go here, http://www.fcmf.org, click on the green “Provincial Affiliates” button, then scroll down and click on BC, and see if there is anything near you.

    Definitely good for them. And “Good for them”, too! And nice to know that there are others, even if they’re somewhat far-flung…

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