• 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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    "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"

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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."
    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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Nature writing and writers

Am slowly going through scads of Google Alerts and finding some good stuff.


Another good review of American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau, edited by Bill McKibben (Library of America, April 2008). I’ve had this on my wish list for a few months since reading the Washington Post review by Gregory McNamee. The latest review is by Brian Sholis for Metro Times Detroit (the city’s “weekly alternative”), who writes that the new book

represents a Herculean effort on the part of author and activist Bill McKibben, its editor, to bring together the texts most relevant to an audience unfamiliar with the topic. It is matchless in its heft, generous in scope (included are Sierra Club founder John Muir and Marvin Gaye), and, with a detailed chronology in its back matter, serviceable in its depth. …

…nearly all of the writers we associate with the movement, from the middle of the 19th century to the present, appear here, including Henry David Thoreau, Muir, John Burroughs, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Wendell Berry, Annie Dillard, Barry Lopez and Michael Pollan. So do a handful of unexpected figures, from P.T. Barnum to Philip K. Dick to R. Crumb. A library that included this volume and Thomas J. Lyon’s utilitarian 2001 book This Incomparable Land: A Guide to American Nature Writing would offer fragments from or information about many of the books important to mainstream discourse on the topic.

Bill McKibben also has The Bill McKibben Reader: Pieces from an Active Life out this Spring (Holt, March 2008).

More books on nature writing:

The Sierra Club Nature Writing Handbook: A Creative Guide by John A. Murray

Nature Writing: The Tradition in English, edited by Robert Finch and John Elder (which I believe is a hardbound, non-college text edition of the Norton Book of Nature Writing by Finch and Elder)

Writing About Nature: A Creative Guide by John A. Murray

Writing Naturally: A Down-To-Earth Guide to Nature Writing by David Petersen

The Alphabet Of The Trees: A Guide To Nature Writing, edited by Christian McEwen and Mark Statman

A Natural History of Nature Writing by Frank Stewart

A Crow Doesn’t Need A Shadow: A Guide to Writing Poetry from Nature by Lorraine Ferra, illustrated by Diane Boardman (unlike the other titles in this list, good to use with younger children)

There is, not surprisingly, a website called Nature Writing. And a blog, On Nature Writing, though it’s been inactive since February.

The Library of Congress offers its science reference guide on Nature Study, Nature Writing: Past and Present

Nature Writing Resources from the English department of Virginia Commonwealth University, and also from Grand Valley State University in Michigan

Advice on keeping a nature writing journal, with brief excerpts from The Sierra Club Nature Writing Handbook, via Cal Poly

Writing about Nature and Environmental Issues, from MIT OpenCourseWare

The state of nature writing in the UK, from Robert Macfarlane’s columns for The Guardian: “Upwardly mobile” (September 2007) and “Call of the wild” (December 2003) are two, and his “Common Ground” columns listed here. Mr. Macfarlane is author of the recent Wild Places and was interviewed for Bookslut in 2004 following publication of his Mountains of the Mind.

5 Responses

  1. I have added this to my Amazon wish list. I have used the Alphabet Through the Trees many times. I am huge fan of the Teacher and Writer Collaborator books. Thanks, B.

  2. Your blog is wonderful. My 8 year-old will enjoy delving into these reads with me.

  3. Must tell Mat. He has a book of biographies of naturalists out of the library at the moment (with a beautiful Audubon painting of flamingos on the cover).

    Do you read the Nature Watch column in the Guardian? Not sure if it is in the online version but comes in the weekly. I’m not very good about reading it but Mat does all the time. And I have to admit that it is absolutely gorgeous writing about nature. Columnist is Paul Evans if that helps you find it (In the print version it is illustrated with wood cuts of the English countryside).

  4. Mrs. G., you’re welcome and thank *you* — I didn’t even think that there might be other T&C books. Will have to see what else I find. Do you have any you especially like?

    MamaShift, welcome and thanks so much for the kind words.

    JoVE, Paul Evans yes from time to time, but I think the column has another name, and I know it has no pictures. I wonder if they’ve been bound and published (preferably with illustrations)?

  5. I agree with your Blog and I will be back to check it more in the future so please keep up your work on fiction book for children
    . I love your content & the way that you write. It looks like you’ve been doing this for a while now, how long have you been blogging for?

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