• 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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  • Copyright © 2005-2016 Please do not use any of my words or my personal photographs without my express permission.

Merry Christmas, eh?

The great Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock (1869-1944) offered this little Christmas tale in 1910:

Hoodoo McFiggin’s Christmas
by Stephen Leacock

This Santa Claus business is played out. It’s a sneaking,
underhand method, and the sooner it’s exposed the better.

For a parent to get up under cover of the darkness of
night and palm off a ten-cent necktie on a boy who had
been expecting a ten-dollar watch, and then say that an
angel sent it to him, is low, undeniably low.

I had a good opportunity of observing how the thing worked
this Christmas, in the case of young Hoodoo McFiggin,
the son and heir of the McFiggins, at whose house I board.

Hoodoo McFiggin is a good boy — a religious boy. He had
been given to understand that Santa Claus would bring
nothing to his father and mother because grown-up people
don’t get presents from the angels. So he saved up all
his pocket-money and bought a box of cigars for his father
and a seventy-five-cent diamond brooch for his mother.
His own fortunes he left in the hands of the angels. But
he prayed. He prayed every night for weeks that Santa
Claus would bring him a pair of skates and a puppy-dog
and an air-gun and a bicycle and a Noah’s ark and a sleigh
and a drum —  about a hundred and fifty dollars’
worth of stuff.

I went into Hoodoo’s room quite early Christmas morning.
I had an idea that the scene would be interesting. I woke
him up and he sat up in bed, his eyes glistening with
radiant expectation, and began hauling things out of his
stocking.

The first parcel was bulky; it was done up quite loosely
and had an odd look generally.

“Ha! ha!” Hoodoo cried gleefully, as he began undoing
it. “I’ll bet it’s the puppy-dog, all wrapped up in
paper!”

And was it the puppy-dog? No, by no means. It was a pair
of nice, strong, number-four boots, laces and all,
labelled, “Hoodoo, from Santa Claus,” and underneath
Santa Claus had written, “95 net.”

The boy’s jaw fell with delight. “It’s boots,” he said,
and plunged in his hand again.

He began hauling away at another parcel with renewed hope
on his face.

This time the thing seemed like a little round box. Hoodoo
tore the paper off it with a feverish hand. He shook it;
something rattled inside.

“It’s a watch and chain! It’s a watch and chain!” he
shouted. Then he pulled the lid off.

And was it a watch and chain? No. It was a box of nice,
brand-new celluloid collars, a dozen of them all alike
and all his own size.

The boy was so pleased that you could see his face crack
up with pleasure.

He waited a few minutes until his intense joy subsided.
Then he tried again.

This time the packet was long and hard. It resisted the
touch and had a sort of funnel shape.

“It’s a toy pistol!” said the boy, trembling with
excitement. “Gee! I hope there are lots of caps with it!
I’ll fire some off now and wake up father.”

No, my poor child, you will not wake your father with
that. It is a useful thing, but it needs not caps and it
fires no bullets, and you cannot wake a sleeping man with
a tooth-brush. Yes, it was a tooth-brush — a regular
beauty, pure bone all through, and ticketed with a little
paper, “Hoodoo, from Santa Claus.”

Again the expression of intense joy passed over the boy’s
face, and the tears of gratitude started from his eyes.
He wiped them away with his tooth-brush and passed on.

The next packet was much larger and evidently contained
something soft and bulky. It had been too long to go into
the stocking and was tied outside.

“I wonder what this is,” Hoodoo mused, half afraid to
open it. Then his heart gave a great leap, and he forgot
all his other presents in the anticipation of this one.
“It’s the drum!” he gasped. “It’s the drum, all wrapped
up!”

Drum nothing! It was pants —  pair of the nicest little
short pants — yellowish-brown short pants — with dear little
stripes of colour running across both ways, and here
again Santa Claus had written, “Hoodoo, from Santa Claus,
one fort net.”

But there was something wrapped up in it. Oh, yes! There
was a pair of braces wrapped up in it, braces with a
little steel sliding thing so that you could slide your
pants up to your neck, if you wanted to.

The boy gave a dry sob of satisfaction. Then he took out
his last present. “It’s a book,” he said, as he unwrapped
it. “I wonder if it is fairy stories or adventures. Oh,
I hope it’s adventures! I’ll read it all morning.”

No, Hoodoo, it was not precisely adventures. It was a
small family Bible. Hoodoo had now seen all his presents,
and he arose and dressed. But he still had the fun of
playing with his toys. That is always the chief delight
of Christmas morning.

First he played with his tooth-brush. He got a whole lot
of water and brushed all his teeth with it. This was
huge.

Then he played with his collars. He had no end of fun
with them, taking them all out one by one and swearing
at them, and then putting them back and swearing at the
whole lot together.

The next toy was his pants. He had immense fun there,
putting them on and taking them off again, and then trying
to guess which side was which by merely looking at them.

After that he took his book and read some adventures
called “Genesis” till breakfast-time.

Then he went downstairs and kissed his father and mother.
His father was smoking a cigar, and his mother had her
new brooch on. Hoodoo’s face was thoughtful, and a light
seemed to have broken in upon his mind. Indeed, I think
it altogether likely that next Christmas he will hang on
to his own money and take chances on what the angels
bring.

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