• 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.


From Damian Whitworth at The Times, news of the return of The Puffin Post and Puffin Club — “Good news, Puffineers! The Sniffup are back”, presumably in time for Puffin’s 70th anniversary in 2010. From which,

The magazine was founded in 1967 by Kaye Webb, the eccentric publisher described by Bond as “the literary world’s equivalent of the Pied Piper of Hamelin”. It faded away in the early 1980s after the death of Jill McDonald, its design guru. A diluted form of the Puffin Club survived, supplying books to schools, but now the independent bookseller The Book People is reviving the magazine and creating an online community.

Among the contributors is Michael Morpurgo, the former children’s laureate, who has a short story published 32 years after an effort that he submitted to Kaye Webb was rejected. As the husband of one of the daughters of Allen Lane, the founder of Penguin (Puffin’s dad), Morpurgo served orange squash at early parties for Puffineers. Now the author of more than 100 books, he says that Puffin Post should bring back “what has been missing, the joie de vivre and the fun of reading”. The original magazine “brought people who really loved books together, made them feel that they belonged to something.

“Where the Government has got this so wrong is all the testing and targets. If children think that reading is just an educational tool for them, they are going to treat it with the disdain it deserves.”

The thrill of the Puffin Club, for those of us who still have our original enamel Puffin badges and dog-eared Roald Dahls with Puffin Post bookplates, was the sense of slightly insane adventure that Kaye Webb stamped on it. Raymond Briggs, author of such classics as The Snowman, recalls going on a Puffin Club trip to visit real puffins on the cliffs at Bempton in Yorkshire: “A whole party of us, including 15 or more children, ran around, skipping and laughing, within a few feet of some of the highest cliffs in the British Isles. Health and safety? What’s that? It hadn’t been invented then. Fortunately no one plunged over the edge and we did see the puffins. It was all typical of Kaye: wild, exciting, adventurous and a tiny bit mad. Those were the days.

I remember loving the idea of belonging to a club of other keen readers and receiving my own magazine, besides Jack and Jill and Cricket (and The Puffin Post was infinitely more fun and funny, if not downright madcap, than Cricket, as you can see from the above quotes). I still have all of my Puffin books from the club, though sadly not the magazines.

The new Puffin Post is aimed at children ages 8 to 12, and the first issue comes out January 2009. I can’t remember how much membership was in the early to mid seventies, but it couldn’t have been much or my parents wouldn’t have entertained the thought. The introductory price in the UK is ₤38 (usual price ₤45) a year; that gets you six issues of The Post and six Puffin books, book plates, a Puffin notebook, writing paper, a special edition Puffin beanie, and the traditional enamel membership pin (which I think I still have somewhere). But “world price”, outside Europe, for a year is ₤120, which makes me sniffle into a tissue rather than let out a rousing sniffup…

If you’re across the pond and can’t or won’t cough up the cash, here for the young readers in your house are some stories that were lovely old Puffins; none of these except Stig seem to be available as Puffins any more and are missing the lovely original cover art:

:: Fans of Professor Branestawm, and his creator Norman Hunter, will be happy to know that the good professor is celebrating his 75th anniversary with new editions (from Random House UK), paperback and hardcover, of the classic stories, just out earlier this month: The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm. Think Homer Price crossed with the (original) Absent-Minded Professor. Delightful for children who love contraptions and a good story. I’m not sure if the new edition has the original illustrations by W. Heath Robinson (the English Rube Goldberg), but I hope so.

:: Stig of the Dump by Clive King

:: Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce

:: The Owl Service by Alan Garner

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