• 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."
    Cicero

    "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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Poetry Friday: Celebrating free range chickens

We had another reminder early this morning that if we tried to raise free range chickens, we’d just be supporting free range foxes and coyotes.

One of our hens was ailing this week and the other chickens, as they tend to, were picking on her. I decided to put her in the small wooden and chicken wire pen, much like a large rabbit hutch and a small chicken tractor of sorts, on her own near the hen house. This is where we put our hen and her chicks the other year, moving them to fresh grass every day.

There’s never been a problem with predators until today. This morning we found that a fox had dug under the small pen and taken, and eaten, the hen. In her memory, I offer

Old-Fashioned Hen
by Elizabeth Coatsworth (1893-1986)

Now and again I like to see
a hen who still runs wild and free,

who crosses roads and flies o’er ditches
and cackles till she gets the stitches,

who hunts for grasshoppers in the stubble
and scratches merrily in old rubble,

who cocks her head when roosters crow,
who knows all things a hen should know:

when to obey the housewife’s call
and when to pay no heed at all,

where grubs grow best and how to roost
on some low branch without a boost,

and last of all, to prove her worth
(her nearness to the rights of earth)

let her become an agitator,
fixed enemy of the incubator,

and obstinately steal her nest
and shelter chicks beneath her breast!

I remember how tickled I was as an adult to learn that Elizabeth Coatsworth was married to nature writer Henry Beston. Their daughter, Kate Beston Barnes (born in 1932), was the state of Maine’s first poet laureate (1996-2000). You can read, and listen to, some of her poems at The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor.

Onward and upward with one more 4H club and its activities later today and tomorrow. Laura’s chocolate truffle cake under construction as we speak. I can honestly say that when I was ten and a half, I had no idea how to make truffles (we used the Robert Linxe adaptation) or chocolate caraque (we used Carole Walter’s recipe and a metal bench scraper, but you could use a clean putty knife too).

More poems (not sure about more chocolate, though) can be found at today’s Poetry Friday round-up, hosted by Sarah Reinhard at Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering.

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4 Responses

  1. I don’t know is raising chickens a bit like growing some of the veg other beasts like to eat? Can we grow enough for us and the foxes? Especially if it is only occasional.

  2. Great poem! I can’t wait to share it with the kids. We have had our 25 new chicks (Australorps, Delawares, and Speckled Sussex) for two weeks now. One son made the new roof for the insulated former doghouse they are now in –let’s just say he learned a lot about installing window glass for a skylight, and the other son is making a chicken tractor for mid-summer and beyond. His plans look very impressive and this is going to be a lesson in sticking to deadlines, alright.

    Right now the chicks go out in the sunniest part of the day in the dog’s old pen. They are so funny to watch. My 10 yo dd is chief chicken wrangler and protectress.

    Our dog is old and lame, so she’s not helping in the fox-deterrent category, and she never used the doghouse or the pen, preferring to dig up the ferns next to the house and sleep in the dirt.

    I loved that picture of your chickens with the watermelon rinds and such from the winter — it was so colorful it sticks in my mind, and I hope my birds are half as happy as yours.

    Sorry about the one that got foxed.

  3. What a great poem! One that I will have to share with my daughters when they get up. We deal with raccoons a lot here and have a nesting pair of red-tailed hawks right above our chicken pen, so we know about predators! Great resources on your website. I’m about to poke through.

  4. Someday I want to keep chickens. I don’t know about the foxes… I have always loved the phrase “steal her nest” – like it isn’t hers? Ha.

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