• 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.

Poetry Friday: Lights and trees and snow

Hard to believe we’ve been back for little over a week. The kids had a full 4H weekend, the older two at a public speaking workshop on Saturday (to help prepare for the big public speaking event in February) and all three at a volleyball tournament all day Sunday. Davy, who’s one year too young for 4H, was nevertheless needed and appointed a rover to fill spots on various teams.

Last Saturday night we went to a surprise birthday party for a dear family friend; I was especially pleased with the kids, especially the boys, who knew the expectations without reminding (Daniel wore his dress shoes) and were also able to carry on reasonable conversations with complete strangers, about school work, the recent trip, and looking forward to Christmas.

Monday we had our first Christmas party, Tuesday junior curling, and Wednesday, in addition to music lessons all afternoon the kids sang, read, and recited as the entertainment for a local women’s group Christmas breakfast. Laura recited Eleanor Farjeon’s In the Week When Christmas Comes from one of our favorite Christmas books, the delightful Random House Pictureback anthology, Diane Goode’s Christmas Magic: Poems and Carols, published in 1992 and out of print but worth tracking down, especially because Diane Goode is the Diane Goode who did such a marvelous job illustrating When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant. And, at the last minute, Davy decided to read A Christmas ABC by Florence Johnson, from the also out-of-print Christmas Stories and Poems, illustrated by Lisa McCue (Troll Associates).

Yesterday we got to stay home, at least until after dinner (theater rehearsal), and since it was a fairly balmy -1C/30 F, the kids and I hung the Christmas lights. The temperature is supposed to start heading downward today, with a projected high of -30C tomorrow. So it was yesterday or never for the lights. Today I’m going to lay another layer of straw mulch over the strawberry bed. The recent snow, besides looking very Christmassy, is a welcome layer of insulation, but I think some more straw wouldn’t hurt.

*  *  *

If we had stayed in NYC for another few days, we would have been able to catch the crush that is the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center. We no longer have a tree lighting in town; the powers that be decided that trees aren’t very exciting, but lighted figures of athletes (a figure skater, downhill and cross country skiiers, hockey player, etc.) were. But there’s nothing like a good tree lighting to get you in the holiday spirit.

We were there to see, just as the Macy’s Parade ended, the multitudes of tree stands sprouting like mushrooms on sidewalks. On Amsterdam and 77th Street, the enterprising young Quebecers (almost all of the tree sellers are hardy types from La Belle Province) were selling not just trees but ornaments, Santa suits, and anything else you could use for the holiday. On Broadway and 87th Street, they had the Duane Reade awning decorated with lights. And on the east side of Broadway and 98th, you can buy anything from a 12′ tree for your prewar apartment to a little Charlie Brown tree, a 5″ branchlet stuck in a sliced-off piece of trunk. They also had very cute reindeer also made from scraps. The kids, who have never thought of attaching a price to a tree, were astounded to see $85 price tags on trees we’d walk past in the woods.

A brief selection of favorites from Diane Goode’s Christmas Magic: Poems and Carols:

by John Updike (from A Child’s Calendar, originally illustrated by Nancy Burkert)

First snow! The flakes,
So few, so light,
Remake the world
In solid white.

All bundled up,
We feel as if
We were fat penguins,
Warm and stiff.

Downtown, the stores
Half split their sides,
And Mother brings home
Things she hides.

Old carols peal.
The dusk is dense.
There is a mood
Of sweet suspense.

The shepherds wait,
The kings, the tree —
All wait for something
Yet to be,

Some miracle.
And then it’s here,
Wrapped up in hope —
Another year!

Before Christmas
by Anne Blackwell Payne (1887-1969)

Young trees of the forest,
By scores and by dozens,
Have come to the city
Like small country cousins.

On squares and on corners
They lend to each street
A strange kind of fragrance
That’s spicy and sweet.

So give them a welcome,
Be glad we are blessed
For even a season
With such sturdy guests.

* * * *

Elaine Magliaro has today’s Poetry Friday round-up at Wild Rose Reader. Thanks, Elaine, and Merry Christmas!

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