• 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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Happy new year

A new school year started today. Well, at least that was the plan, until haying and fixing fences kept Tom and the kids out until 11 pm last night, which is when they finally came in the house and had dinner. So I let the kids sleep in today and we had a slow, relaxed start, especially since we still have another week to go to get the haying completed and the cattle moved to the new pasture.

Also, since I’ve been such a wretched blogger, I thought I would give something new a try, borrowing some of the daybook prompts I’ve seen at other blogs. But I am hopelessly consistent and live on a farm, so I will likely avoid regular updates of the “what am I wearing” prompts.


Outside my window…

The goldfinches are gathering up and preparing to migrate. We’ve had so much fun in the past few weeks watching the juveniles learn their way around, having baths in the gutter, learning to open sunflower seeds, flapping wings to get a parent’s attention.

I am thinking…

that I have some more decluttering to do. It has been a decluttering summer, especially since we had two old TVs, and one “entertainment center” to move out as Canada moved from analog to digital television. Unlike most of our family, friends, and neighbors, we did not have any flat screen TVs or satellite service. And cable is a dream out in the country. I am delighted with the new streamlined look, and my old eyes are loving the larger screens. The small TV in the bedroom, from my NYC days, was ridiculously small.

I am thankful…

that we don’t have to travel this autumn/winter (that sound you hear is me knocking on wood). This will be the first time in three years that we are/I am home for our traditional family celebrations of Canadian Thanksgiving, American Thanksgiving, Davy’s birthday (which has reached new lows for the past two years, poor kid), and Christmas. I am relieved and grateful, since I found being away for these terribly discombobulating and somewhat unrooting (disrooting? deracinating?).

From the learning rooms… 

We are starting over again with ancient history. Laura, who starts ninth grade, has formal science for the first time. Though tomorrow she is spending the day in the provincial park to observe the fall bird migration.

In the kitchen…

Over the weekend I made quarts of mustard pickle — my mother-in-law’s mother’s mother-in-law’s recipe, so venerable — and dill pickles.

In the new addition, across the three windows on the north end, we put up our new autumn banner (which I bought from Jaime Mancilla at Etsy),

to replace the summer banner, also from Jaime (and both photos from Jaime’s Etsy shop),

I am wearing…

oh dear

For today I will play along. An old navy blue Leon Levin polo shirt that used to belong to my mother, and yoga pants. Though not because I do yoga…

I am creating…

disorder with my decluttering, and with any luck out of disorder will come order. Unless I quickly learn some much needed reupholstery and slipcovering skills (not very likely), we need a new sofa, which may come from the new Crate and Barrel opening next month in the city. I would like to paint the living room, but we’ll see how far we get with the new addition (see below).

With luck, I will be creating a nicer version of the house. Between home schooling and farming, we live hard in this house. And with all our absences from home over the past two years, much has been put off and ignored. We need to fix things up, for ourselves and for the house.

I am going…

Nowhere for the next few days. Laura has music lessons half an hour north of here on Thursdays, and has moved her egg delivery day in town to Fridays, which is also the boys’ day for guitar lessons.

I am wondering…

if autumn can be remotely unharried. I get better each year at saying No, though lately with estate matters there have been few things to which No has been an acceptable reply.

I am reading…

The Three Weissmans of Westport; Sense & Sensibility updated for 2010, with two daughters who help their aged mother navigate the realities of divorce.

Thoreau’s Method: A Handbook for Nature Study by David Pepi; originally published in 1985 as part of Prentice-Hall’s wonderful PHalarope natural history series.

I am hoping…

that our calico cat Callie doesn’t bring me any more presents of headless gophers,

that autumn will not be too busy and overwhelming,

to keep the depression at bay, or at least to minimize it. In which case a busy autumn may not be a bad thing, as long as the busy-ness doesn’t make me anxious and overwhelmed. A fine line, I think.

I am looking forward to…

the new season of “Downton Abbey”, which begins in the UK on the 18th of this month and on PBS in January

the weekend arrival of the fruit truck from BC, with nectarines and peaches

the return of Michael Enright on CBC Radio’s “Sunday Edition”


Laura getting her learner’s permit

I am hearing…

goldfinch twitterings, sandhill cranes trumpeting and rattling as they make their loops, the neighbors’ combines rumbling down the road, three young voices singing along to “Eleanor Rigby” on the radio.

Around the house…

we still need to finish the kitchen addition. I pestered Tom this morning to order the flooring (vinyl) for the entire area — kitchen, addition, and front entry. And we still need the kitchen base cabinets for the addition. I had hoped (ha…) to have this done in time for the beginning of our school year, but at this point I will be happy to have it done in time for Christmas.

I am pondering…

what color to paint the front door. It has been a dark green these past 17 years. When Tom bought the house, he painted it white with dark green trim. I am tired of the green door, though, especially on the inside.

One of my favorite things…

homemade dill pickles

A few plans for the rest of the week:

more hay to cut and bale

fixing fences so we can move the cattle to another pasture

insurance adjustors arriving to inspect damage to house and cargo trailer

music lessons, voice on Thursday and guitar on Friday

egg delivery

a trip to the library

start moving greenhouse plants indoors


4 Responses

  1. Becky! So nice to see your post. A learner’s permit? Wow! Congrats to Laura. I’ve read two books recently that you might like: Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, by Nina Sankovitch, and The Hare with Amber Eyes, by Edmund de Waal. Have you read them? I am just finishing The Hare now. Wonderful.

    We survived Irene fine; this has been quite the year of weather, as you no doubt recall. Friends in Weston and Wilton, though, were without power and water for a week. Ugh.

  2. Susan! You are still here! And such good news about Irene, what a relief.

    Yes, they get learner’s permits at 14 here, and she’s been driving for about six years now, on the farm. And last year before we left took a learner’s permit course, so she’s been studying the book like a fiend for months.

    Thanks for the book recommendations, it is getting darker earlier, quite a bit so, so I can do more reading in the evenings now. Perfect timing!

  3. Thanks for sharing the good news about Michael Enright – and Downton Abbey. Depression is tough – sending healing thoughts and reminding myself that I am almost out of D3…

    • Mary Lou! How wonderful to hear from you. It was so comforting to hear Michael Enright’s voice after so many months, though the subject of Sunday’s show, the anniversary of 9/11, was much less than comforting. *Thank* you for the healing thoughts, and hope all is well, and warm, there…

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