• 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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My last post was more than two weeks ago. Since then we’ve been a bit busy with haying, out of town relatives, the fair, and my inlaws’ 50th wedding anniversary celebrations.

I cleaned the house from top to bottom, because I knew once far-flung visitors and anniversary celebrations and the fair arrived, I wouldn’t have the time. It still looks pretty good, and now the kids are allowed back in the living room, preferably without Lego.

Tom’s parents were delighted with their golden anniversary festivities, especially Tom’s mother. I think my father-in-law was both happy that his wife was happy and relieved when it was all over. My mother-in-law and I were in charge of supplying of the flowers, so I was relieved when the big day came without hail flattening my garden. None of the festivities were to my taste, but then neither of my two small weddings — both to Tom, one in our cow pasture behind the house and the other in my parents’ West Indian cactus garden — fit the traditional North American model, mainly because I couldn’t see spending so much money, and time, arranging something that would have me too frazzled on the big day to enjoy it much; speaking of which, I had a good laugh reading this. I told Tom that when and if we ever make it to our 50th anniversary (he’ll be 85 and I’ll be 80 — we got a much later start than most people around here), I’d like dinner at a good restaurant with the children and the grandchildren, and then he can take me out dancing.

We spent time with family from Toronto and Germany, and the kids and I especially enjoyed getting to know our distant European cousins, who spoke better English, and drank less wine and beer, than expected. The only hitch in the proceedings was the afternoon and evening they spent at our place, touring the farm and having dinner. In between the hamburgers on the grill and marshmallows at the fire pit, one of Rick’s Canadian cousins tossed Davy like a softball and broke his arm. We didn’t know at the time (9:30 in the evening) that the arm was broken, but it was a good guess; we confirmed with the hospital in town that the earliest we could come in for an x-ray was the next morning at 8:30. Since I was busy working at the fairgrounds in the exhibit hall the next day, Tom took Davy for his x-ray and cast. Davy’s been a tough little kid, no tears except when he thought he wouldn’t be able to go on the rides at the fair (no problem once I signed a waiver at the carnies’ “guest relations” trailer). Two weeks and two days to go in the cast, which has so many signatures you can barely see the fiberglass.

Voles invaded my two raised bed gardens. I made the discovery when I noticed that my clematis, draped all along the trellis and laden with blooms about to open, looked droopy. The reason — a wretched vole had chewed through the stems two inches above the ground. Looking around, I saw that many of the evening scented stocks had been similarly sawed off above-ground, and some wilted looking beets had been chewed off below ground. I armed the kids with mouse traps and brought one of the cats from our corrals, and the four of them have made a good dent in the vole population — 12 down, and no apologies from me.

The fair. I spent last Monday and Wednesday working at the fair grounds, and then the fair itself was this past Thursday-Saturday. Bright and early Thursday we delivered the kids’ hens for the chicken show (they won second place in the dual-purpose breed category, though not Grand Champion or Reserve Grand champion), then drove Tom over to the parade grounds then back to the traditional annual extended family viewing spot, then picked Tom up and hurried to the lunch for parade participants, then to the chicken show. Then off to the exhibit hall to see how everyone did (quite well, especially Davy and Tom in the agricultural divisions, Davy in the Lego division, and Laura and Daniel in the art divisions). Bright and early Friday we got the kids in the truck and their cattle in the trailer (Laura’s cow-calf pair and the boys’ two heifer calves) for the junior beef show; the three kids brought home six ribbons, two firsts (including Laura’s for best two-year old cow-calf pair, and Daniel’s for best peewee [nine and under] showmanship), three seconds, and a third, and Davy did a marvelous job handling his calf despite the cast. After that it was time for the rides, and I found a bench in the shade along the midway and sat there with my book while the kids and their friends raced from ride to ride. And surprisingly, Davy never lost his copy of the release form, which had to be shown to the ride operators who asked for it. Dinner, the grandstand show, and then we pried the kids away from the midway around 11 pm. Saturday I managed to do a few loads of laundry and watered the garden before we headed back in. Oh, and at the end of each day, as we’ve done for the past few years, we collected the baby chicks hatched out as part of the incubation display, and brought them home.

And the days at the fair were hot, hot and sunny. So much so that thunderheads gathered in the sky Saturday afternoon, and yesterday we had prolonged thundershowers and lightning.

Yesterday, Rick’s sister and her family came over for brunch before their return (today) to Toronto. We ate pancakes and pineapple and caught up on the latest news, then showed them the filly, kittens, and chicks. Then we headed to town to work at the museum, which is staffed entirely by volunteers. No-one else could be found, so we were it. Not a bad gig for the afternoon, though, especially with no visitors to worry about; I sat outside on the front steps in the shade with the aforementioned book and a glass of water and had a dandy time.

Now we rest and recuperate and enjoy some quiet time. I have the garden to look after — I picked a big bowl of string beans, green and royal burgundy, this morning, and have raspberries to pick when today’s showers stop. The rest of the garden will be ready soon, and more wild berries too; the kids have already been picking saskatoons. And Laura to get ready for a week of sleepaway 4H camp in mid-August (another NY Times article that had me laughing is here). So I can’t promise to resume regular blogging any time soon. But I’ll try, at least ’til I get sidetracked by the next thing that needs doing…


4 Responses

  1. Yikes! Glad you can laugh about the “fashion” article. Now I KNOW I really do live in the stix.

  2. Welcome back! We too had our local show though we were running around to attend the various musical performances rather than livestock events. You though are much better than I at getting back into the blogging swing.

    Kudos to the kids on their ribbons (and to you and Tom for hauling the whole lot around!) Glad to hear Davy was able to get a release. What’s a fair without loads of rides?

    I just started the first article. Shaking my head at the ridiculousness of it all (I imagine the camp one will be much the same.) Reminds me of when I overheard my at-the-time soon-to-be-sister-in-law telling her maid of honor that if her brother did not get his teeth whitened in time he was not going to be in the photos.

    Oh, my.

  3. I knew you were busy but missed you anyway. Glad all went well. And at least voles can be dealt with by bringing the cats in. Unlike *(#$&#&%#* groundhogs. (We’re having some success with hot-sauce.) Hope you get more time with a book.

  4. Jen, if I still lived in NYC, I’d be one of the bridesmaids left friendless for refusing the botox!

    L., you’ll have to find the time to tell me about the music performances. And one post doesn’t make a swing — you ARE optimistic!! Thanks so much for the congrats, will pass them along. Rides AND cotton candy and candy apples and mini doughnuts. So was he? (In the photos, that is…).

    JoVE, thanks for missing me : ). Cats and traps. Do you serve the groundhogs with hot sauce or sprinkle it on *their* dinners? What about those larger Havahart catch and release traps?

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