• 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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Looking more like a lamb

I see I missed blogging last month, but our immune systems deserted us from the beginning of February for five weeks, and I’m still coughing and hacking away and variously tending ailing kids and husband when they aren’t tending me. The worst part was being seriously under the weather, with yet another bad case of the flu, when JoVE and her daughter were here from Ontario for a visit. I felt like a cross between Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Typhoid Mary, prone on the sofa, unmoving except to spew germs. JoVE said she doesn’t blame me at all for infecting her, but I don’t really believe her! We did have a lovely visit and she brought beautiful blue and white presents to remember them by. I’ll have to photograph them and put the pics up here.

Fortunately, though Tom has been sick too, we’ve managed to take turns so that whenever we needed to get the kids anywhere, there’s an able, driving adult. The kids were tough, learning to deal with 4H public speaking, curling, and other things through sickness. Some recent things we’ve been up to:

:: the boys surprised themselves by winning first place at 4H district public speaking for their presentation, “How to Make Yorkshire Pudding”. By rights they were supposed to go on to the 4H regional competition two hours away (yesterday), but it was the same day as 4H district curling, which they decided would be more fun. And it was. Curling is winding down and will be finished in the next few weeks. In fact, the high school curling provincials were held in our town the other week, and the kids were each asked to carry a flag for one of the teams when they were piped onto the ice at the start.

:: Laura’s 4H cow had her calf, a little heifer named Phoebe, on Friday. We’re in calving mode now, going out at night twice to check on the heifers and cows. The sleep deprivation gets harder each year as we get older. But we may not have this problem next year — cattle prices are at a record high and we are worried about drought conditions (see below), so Tom’s thinking about selling some of the herd. Something to talk about in the middle of the night when we’re wide awake after checking  on the cattle.

:: We’re all gearing up for the Music Festival. The kids are busy practicing their pieces. The boys have two poems each and Davy is playing O Canada on the guitar, while Laura has nine entries: one of her 4H speeches, a sacred reading from Confucius on art and music, “The Walrus and the Carpenter”, “Dulce et Decorum Est”, a prose passage from one of the Flavia mysteries, and Roald Dahl’s revolting rhyme about Little Red Riding Hood; as well as three songs — an English art song, an Italian art song, and a musical theater piece. Aside from working with the kids, am also sorting out all the publicity/promotions for the festival. Is it wrong to focus on the fact that in one month it will all be over?

:: Our current readloud is To Kill a Mockingbird, which all the kids are enjoying. I couldn’t find the PBS American Experience documentary “Scottsboro: An American Tragedy” in our Canadian library system, but I did find it on YouTube, which has been helpful. Also helpful is the PBS teacher’s guide for “Scottsboro”, and the following online lesson plans: Library of Congress lesson plan, To Kill a Mockingbird: A Historical Perspective”; Edsitement’s “Profiles in Courage”.

:: Our weather and seasons usually don’t respect the calendar, but it has been such a oddly mild winter that it does seem for the first time in most people’s memory, we will actual Springlike weather to coincide with the equinox. We had about an inch of snow the other week (where as much snow fell in one day as we’d had until then this winter), but it didn’t last long. On Thursday, the temperature was +8 Celsius (46 F) , and +6 C yesterday. The forecast for the end of the week is 10-11 C (about 50 F). And on Friday the kids spotted the first arriving Canada goose. I think everyone had been expecting that winter would eventually arrive, but we may get Spring first before Winter ever comes. Though we usually do have a Spring snowfall in March and/or April, with a heavy branch-breaking snow…

:: We are still mulling over our flooring choices for the new addition and rest of the kitchen and entry. Until yesterday we were considering vinyl groutable tile from Home Depot or Lowe’s, but while at Home Depot yesterday to pick up stair nosing for one of Tom’s upcoming commercial project, we came across Allure’s vinyl plank option, and it is now in first place. It would be much faster, without the grouting and with the fact that it’s a floating system, and fairly comparable in price to the vinyl groutable tile, which is quite inexpensive. The planks are flexible, which would be helpful for our 60-year-old house with uneven floors. And I’d definitely prefer a wood look to a tile look for that part of the house. We decided on the Hickory colorway, which is in stock; I prefer the Barnwood colorway, but it’s special order and with Home Depot an hour away, too difficult to co-ordinate. If we like it, I can see trying to convince Tom to use it to replace the 18-year-old carpeting in the living room, hallway, and three upstairs bedrooms. Well, at least the living room to start.

:: The kids are on a judging team with their 4H beef club for the Western Canadian Judging Competition later this week, with a number of intercollegiate and other 4H groups. They’ll be judging livestock and crop classes (beef , dairy, sheep, horses, seeds, forage, crop ID), and a mystery class.

:: We are getting close to done with 4H baking club, which has its achievement day in about a month. We have one last project meeting this week, and have to plan achievement day. We’re thinking of something along the lines of an “Iron Chef” potluck, where the kids do the cooking at home, focusing on a particular type of meal (main course, dessert, salad) with a particular/secret ingredient, and bringing the results in for dinner with family and friends.