• 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.

Autumn links

I’m behind with some nifty links for October and November:

It’s gift buying season, and if you have children’s books on your list, the Cybils 2008 nomination list, broken down by category, is a terrific way to find current titles for the children you love.

I’m not quite sure what happened to October, so I’m going to try to get caught up with the October edition of the Carnival of Children’s Literature, “Snuggle Up with a Children’s Book”, especially since it’s better snuggling weather now.  I’m currently snuggling up with the kids and a rat, as we read through the fascinating A Rat’s Tale by Tor Seidler, illustrated by Fred Marcellino; it’s part of our NYC readathon before we take off.

The October edition of the Carnival of the Elitist Bastards, “We Be Sailin’ the Wine Dark Seas”, is up.  Eggheads of the world, unite.  And celebrate!

The New York Times explores the question, “When does a recipe become a science project?” in the recent article, Dry-Ice Martini and Electric Cake”.  For kitchen chemists everywhere.

A new Yahoo group from my online friend Suji: the secular LivingScience books group, inspired by the Living Math website.


Catching up, of sorts

The boys did well at their swim meet last Saturday, not well as they did last year with all the gold medals and first place ribbons, but with a flurry of other-colored ribbons and lots of fun. And there’s another swim meet the weekend after next, so they have the chance to try again.

We spent most of Sunday and Monday at the fairgrounds for the 4H beef club achievement day. Laura showed her cow-calf pair, and placed third for the junior class and for showmanship. Now she’s getting ready for the 4H baking club achievement days this Friday and Saturday, which includes a bit of community service Friday evening, planting flower boxes for some local businesses. Don’t ask about the weeds in my own garden, or the potatoes that have yet to be planted.

Lots of odds and ends to sort out as various activities come to an end — I have a library board meeting this afternoon while the kids are swimming, have to type up the 4H results from the weekend to include in Laura’s article for the local papers.

A moose walked through the backyard, and we found a ground sparrow nest with several eggs. The kids and I are reading, and listening, to some good bird books, some new and some old, and I’ll post those titles when I have a chance.

I don’t think I can, and don’t particularly want to, catch up, but these links have caught my eye. You’ve probably found them elsewhere since I’m late, but here they are, just in case:

  • On the weekend, string theorist, author, and physics professor Brian Greene made an eloquent case in The New York Times to “Put a Little Science in Your Life”: “Science is the greatest of all adventure stories, one that’s been unfolding for thousands of years as we have sought to understand ourselves and our surroundings. Science needs to be taught to the young and communicated to the mature in a manner that captures this drama. We must embark on a cultural shift that places science in its rightful place alongside music, art and literature as an indispensable part of what makes life worth living.”
  • The website of children’s history and science author Joy Hakim has been updated and redesigned. I had an email from Smithsonian Books, publisher of her science series, The Story of Science, with the news, also letting me know that Johns Hopkins University has recently completed Teacher and Student Quest Guides for the newest volume, Newton at the Center. Pricey and curriculum-y, these strike me as more useful, or at least more affordable, for institutional classrooms rather than home schools.
  • The battle over evolution in children’s science textbooks continues in Texas, with a new strategy as well as ramifications for the rest of North America, Laura Beil writes in today’s The New York Times. Read the article, if only for the thoughts of Dr. Dan Foster, former chairman of the department of medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.
  • I’m on a roll here with science subjects, so I should mention a few recent posts by science professor and naturalist Chet Raymo at his website, Science Musings, and blog, Science Musings Blog. At the website, don’t miss his essay on science and children’s books, “Dr. Seuss and Dr. Einstein”; The essay was originally published in the September-October 1992 issue of Horn Book, adapted from a talk Prof. Raymo delivered at Bridgewater State College, Massachusetts, that year. Also, a lovely post on The Wind in the Willows, which is celebrating its centennial this year, and news of Prof. Raymo’s new book, When God Is Gone, Everything Is Holy (Ave Maria Press, September 2008).

Saluting Canadian authors

Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray has word today that

the group who organized the One Shot World Tour stop in Australia last August has decided to salute Canadian authors on March 26th. If anyone wants to participate you are more than welcome – this is 100% NOT a YA [Young Adult books] only event, so please feel free to post about your favorite Canadian author of fiction/nonfiction/picture books/comic books/whatever. I’ll run the master schedule here so just send me an email the night before with the url for your post – or drop it in a comment that day – and I’ll be sure to include you in the list of links.

Speaking of Canadian comic books, JoVE at Tricotomania and more has discovered a new and good one, which is in our library, too. (And if you Google “Canadian comic books”, you get this.)

Some possibilities for my March 26th post:

The Inuit Thought of It: Amazing Arctic Innovations by Alootook Ipellie with David MacDonald (Annick Press, 2007)

Woodcraft and Indian Lore: A Classic Guide from a Founding Father of the Boy Scouts of America by Ernest Thompson Seton

The Quirks & Quarks Guide to Space: 42 Questions (and Answers) About Life, the Universe, and Everything by Jim Lebans, with an introduction by Bob McDonald (McClelland & Stewart, 2008)

And not out until next month so not a possibility, but definitely on my books to read list:

Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, the Toronto husband and wife team behind Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia and HomeBaking: The Artful Mix of Flour and Tradition Around the World

Finally, this seems a good time to post another reminder about John Mutford’s Canadian Book Challenge, over at The Book Mine Set. You still have time to read 13 Canadian books (by Canadians and/or about Canadians) by July 1, 2008. That would be Canada Day, eh?

Learning in the Great Outdoors

Terrell at Alone on a Limb is celebrating his 61st birthday with the 10th edition of the Learning in the Great Outdoors carnival, marked by 62 terrific posts (one for each year and one to grow on).

Many thanks, Terrell, for hosting such a splending carnival and many happy returns!

By the way, the Great Outdoors home page is here or you can go to the blog carnival index page. The next edition of the carnival — the first anniversary edition in April — will be hosted by Barb at The Heart of Harmony. Submit a post with the handy dandy carnival submission form.

Light housekeeping

Silvia at Po Moyemu is hosting the February edition of Living in the Great Outdoors carnival.

I’m late with news about the January edition of the Carnival of Children’s Literature, “The Book Awards Edition”, which was hosted by Wizards Wireless.  Stay tuned later this month, since Anastasia Suen is hosting “the leap into books” edition on Leap Day, Friday, February 29, at Picture Book of the Day. Submissions are due by Wednesday, February 27 — use the handy form in the sidebar here.

Kris at Paradise Found has discovered a new book to be published in the UK this coming summer, Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer by author, knitter, and blogger Jane Brocket. Sounds deliciously delightful.

Children’s nonfiction is heating up. Author Anastasia Suen, mentioned above, has started a new feature, Nonfiction Monday, at her blog Picture Book of the Day. And there’s a new blog, I.N.K. – Interesting Nonfiction for Kids; contributors include children’s authors Jennifer Armstrong, Bob Raczka , Loreen Leedy, and Kelly Fineman.

Living in a country with only two flavo(u)rs of Girl Guide cookies, I was happy to find this recipe for homemade Girl Scout Samoas at Nicole’s Baking Bites. I was a Girl Scout once upon a a time, and still remember schlepping cases of cookies home in a taxi cab, and then selling them door-to-door in the apartment building. Baking them seems infinitely easier!

Oh, and we tried the Instructables recipe for kettle popcorn, which we last (and first) had the other month at the rodeo in Edmonton, and it works — without the dang kettle, which is a very good thing.

The Learning in the Great Outdoors Carnival is up

The New Year’s edition of the Learning in the Great Outdoors Carnival is up, hosted by Terrell at Alone on a Limb. Terrell writes,

Learning in the Great Outdoors is intended as a trading center for those who use, or want to use, the environment as an integrating context for learning. If you are a teacher, a nature center educator or naturalist, a homeschooler who wants to use the environment in your studies, an amateur or professional botanist or zoologist or geologist or other science buff, a parent, a student — anyone with an interest in sharing the environment with children, please join us!

Not only are there some nifty and fun posts and pictures to keep you reading for quite some time, but news of some new (and new to me) and helpful blogs, including Open Wide, Look Inside, with links for using poetry and children’s literature in just about every subject, from Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

So head out for the limb. After all, as Will Rogers said, “Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.” Thanks, Terrell, for some terrific New Year’s reading when we all finally head indoors.

The great outdoors, and a carnival

I had a very nice note this morning from teacher Terrell Shaw, to let me know that he has put some original poetry to my photograph of a robin’s egg. As I replied to him, the kids got quite a kick out of seeing my photo accompanied by his poem; and in the midst of a Canadian winter, the idea of robins and their eggs gives me a little thrill, not to mention hope for Spring.

In addition to his Virtual Classroom website, which has storytelling podcasts to which you can subscribe and a science notebook, Mr. Shaw also mentioned that he is going to be hosting the Learning in the Great Outdoors Carnival, at his blog Alone on a Limb. Deadline for submissions is tomorrow, so I gather that it should be up early next week. Consider sending in a recent post, especially if you and your family have been enjoying winter fun.

Latest edition of the Carnival of Children’s Lliterature is up

Mary Lee and Franki have the June edition of the Carnival of Children’s Literature ready at their blog, A Year of Reading. Good news, indeed!

Celebrate late Spring with a Country Fair!

The Country Fair of homeschooling is open again, so grab a lemonade or a cotton candy and meander through the barns or past the pie-eating contest...

Thanks, Doc, for taking the time to put it all together!

This way to the egress

PZ Myers has the creation museum carnival up and running. It looks like a terrific round-up of articles, which I look forward to reading the rest of the week post-4H, and I’m pleased that my little entry (the previous post) could be a part of it. Many thanks to Dr. Myers for the rounding up, and for the original idea, to John McKay, whose blog is named after Farm School’s favorite cockroach (here too).

Now back to the fairgrounds…

P.S. If the humbuggery of Ken Ham’s efforts has your interest piqued, you should enjoy this, too. But then again, Phineas T. knew he was a humbug.

I typed this all by myself with my opposable thumbs

I shouldn’t even be here posting, because we’re getting ready for the big 4H Beef Club weekend — achievement day, interclub show, and sale. (No, Laura doesn’t have to sell her heifer calf; only the steers get sold, heading straight to their doom and little wrapped packages. One reason an older friend of hers and longtime 4H member suggested a heifer over a steer.)

I’ve been reading andhearing again a fair amount this past week about the new creation museum in the U.S., since opening day is slated for Monday.

So it was a tonic to read Red Molly’s thoughts on the subject, especially in conjunction with homeschooling (HT Alasandra, and also for the reminder about the John Wayne Centennial today, for which my kids are gleeful).

Even more interesting to learn that Red Molly’s post is part of tomorrow’s, erm, creation museum carnival to be hosted by one of my favorite science bloggers, PZ Myers at Pharyngula, which, by the way, has some of the best online prehistory/evolution reading lists in a variety of categories — “for the kids”, “for the grown-up layman”, “for the more advanced/specialized reader”, etc. (scroll through the comments for more titles).

Whether or not Monday is a holiday where you are, go visit a natural history museum (scroll all the way down for related links). Of special note,

Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, Drumheller, Alberta (which offers home school discounts)

Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Ontario

Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, Ontario

American Museum of Natural History, New York City

Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago; the travelling Charles Darwin exhibit opens here on June 15, 2007 (through January 1, 2008) and has its ownwebsite

Museum of Science, Boston

Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center, Woodland Park, Colorado

Ruth Hall Museum of Paleontology, Abiquiu, New Mexico

Wyoming Dinosaur Center, Thermopolis, Wyoming

National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya

the grandaddy of them all, the Natural History Museum, in London, England

and the great-grandaddy — the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin aka the Naturkundemuseum aka the Humboldt Museum of Natural History in Berlin, with collections — more than 20 million zoology specimens, more than 3 million palaeontology specimens, and more than one million mineralogy ones — that date back to the establishment of the Prussian Academy, in 1700, and the Bergakademie (Mining Academy) in 1770. Celebrated for its Brachiosaurus brancai, the world’s biggest mounted dinosaur skeleton. Thanks to the great grandaddy OC for the reminder.

Additional links:

The Charles Darwin Has a Posse sticker page. Because you can never underestimate the power of a well-placed sticker or bookmark. As I noted in my 2005 Posse post, “As Darwin himself said, and as you can be reminded daily from a bookmark, ‘Doing what little one can to increase the general stock of knowledge is as respectable an object of life as one can, in any likelihood, pursue’.”

Understanding Evolution website, created by the University of California Museum of Paleontology; lots of resources for educators and children

Darwin Day Celebration website, with links, events, and other items leading to a celebration of the great man’s bicentennial on February 12, 2009.

The Darwin exhibit is no longer at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC — it’s opening at the Field Museum in Chicago (see above) on June 15 — but the website remains, with a good list of resources, some for kids.

The PBS Evolution series also has a niftywebsite, with some projects and links for “Teachers and Students”

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Verlyn Klinkengborg’s New York Times column, August 2005, Grasping the Depth of Time as a First Step in Understanding Evolution

Darwin Correspondence Project, based at Cambridge University; according to the project’s website, “The main feature of the site is anonline database with the complete, searchable, texts of around 5,000 letters written by and to Charles Darwin up to the year 1865. This includes all the surviving letters from the Beagle voyage – online for the first time – and all the letters from the years around the publication of Origin of species in 1859.”

Coturnix’s book list for adults

Becoming Human website

Project Beagle website and theBeagle blog

Evolved Homeschooling blog — “A collection of evolution and science resources for the secular homeschooler”.

And finally, you can join the Friends of Charles Darwin, gratis.

It must be Spring…

because it’s Carnival and fair time! In chronological order,

  • Doc announces that The Country Fair, complete with new look, will be up and running next month, with the first one of the year scheduled for Monday, June 18; submissions are due by Saturday, June 16. Tentative publishing dates for the Fairs are the third Monday of each month. See both of the previous links for how to submit an entry (or two) or even nominate a post you’ve enjoyed on someone else’s blog. (N.B. I’m having a bit of trouble with the Country Fair link, and if you are too you can always go through Doc’s blog or email until things are fixed.)

UPDATED to add: Dawn at By Sun and Candlelight is requesting submissions for her next Field Day, the Late Spring Edition, due by June 6th:

Let’s celebrate these final weeks of late spring, and share the world of nature around us. What’s happening in the garden, woods, fields, by the pond or the shore? How about through your windows or just a step or two outside your back door? Nature happens everywhere, in ways big and little. What does late spring look like where you live? I hope you will consider telling us, for our next Field Day will run on Thursday, June 7th, rain or shine!

Carnival of Children’s Literature and Edge of the Forest

Oops, I almost forgot to write about two important things, so I hope Kelly will forgive me. And Kelly, I did try to comment on your computer woes but Blogger won’t let me in for some reason; after my own laptop’s recent unauthorized encounter with a beverage, I can definitely sympathize.

The latest edition of The Edge of the Forest has been out for a while now, with all sorts of goodies, including A Day in the Life with children’s author Debby Dahl Edwardson of Barrow, Alaska, and a new “Sounds of the Forest” podcast.

And it’s time to send in your submissions for the upcoming 10th Carnival of Children’s Literature. The deadline is January 15th, and the Carnival will be hosted by Kelly at Big A little a on January 20th. Thanks, Kelly!

Halloween carnival time

The spooky Halloween edition of the Carnival of Children’s Literature is up and running at Scholar’s Blog. Michele, who did a wonderful job, welcomes “ghosts and ghouls, fiends and monsters (and fellow Bloggers)”.