• 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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Fall work

The passionflower vine doesn’t realize it’s time to close down the greenhouse, and is flowering madly and sending out ever more crazy red tendrils,

Even more blooms on the way (disregard the greenhouse plastic in the background),

Virginia creeper vine on the trellis by the front door — hard to believe it was entirely green a month ago,

Laura’s greenhouse-grown cantaloupe, the second of two. Very tasty, very sweet, a definite go for next year (we also had good luck with tiny watermelons),

While I was busy working on the greenhouse, Tom and the kids did some fencing in the pasture where the river runs through, so there was a bit of wet work,

The kids were playing around with the special effects on the camera and got some funky color and focussing,

Tomorrow we start combining the wheat…


Outside my window…

the garden is dead. We had the first killing frost last night, -6 Celsius (it was -10 at my inlaws’ house). The sweet peas, cosmos, clematis, lavatera, sunflowers, rudbeckia, and even the zinnias under sheets (had we known it would be lower than -1, we would have used two layers) are all gone. I moved much from the greenhouse into the house, and it looks sad in the greenhouse now. But the kitchen looks like a florist’s shop, and the banana plant is wondering why it’s in the living room.

I am thinking…

how quickly the cold weather came on, after 30+ temps last week, though it has been autumn here for the past month.

I am thankful…

that Tom got the propane heater late last night for the greenhouse, when we realized the thermometer wasn’t finished moving at -2.

for a warm oven, containing peach cobbler.

From the learning rooms…

we are doing a quick run-through the 20th century before beginning another cycle of ancient history. We are focusing on the perils of populism, in the 20th century, and now.

We watched “All Quiet on the Western Front”, the version with John Boy. We are bouncing around a bit, based on what’s available and when from the library. Next up is the 1998 Disney movie “Miracle at Midnight”, about the Nazi occupation of Denmark in WWII, starring Sam Waterston and Mia Farrow.

In the kitchen…

more dill pickles, and canning peaches.

I am wearing…

an apron, and longer pants, because it’s cold in the house. I finally succumbed and turned on the furnace this morning.

I am creating…

good food and small skeptics.

I am going…

to town quickly to pick up a parcel with Laura’s newest voice book for lessons, and batteries for her camera.

I am wondering…

how to fit all my greenhouse plants in the house.

I am reading…

Elle DecorTraditional Home, and Noel Streatfeild’s Saplings, which though terribly sad goes well with our history readings (writing in The Guardian, Sarah Waters called it “A study of the disintegration of a middle-class family during the turmoil of the Second World War”).

Also, new from the library, 101 Things I Hate About Your House by James Swan, and How to Write a Sentence, and How to Read One by Stanley Fish.

I am hoping…

I have enough Ziploc bags on hand for the sliced peaches.

I am looking forward to…

cabinets in the dining room. We may have found some at Home Depot, the sort you can pick up in boxes and walk out of the store with. As long as everything is in stock, which is the rub.

And at Ikea on the weekend, we managed to get the long out-of-stock Numerar butcherblock countertops for the dining room. They’re oak, which I wouldn’t want for a kitchen, but for the dining room they’re fine.  The plan is for base cabinets on the east and west walls, topped with the butcherblock countertops, and then open shelving on the walls.

I am hearing…

the hum of the furnace. Very odd after so long without it. The kids were delighted, and ran to the registers with quilts.

Around the house…

there are plants, fruit, and vegetables in every spare nook and cranny.

I am pondering…

Professor Helen Zoe Veit’s editorial in favor of a return to Home Economics in the classroom, originally published in The New York Times. From which:

One of my favorite things…

peach cobbler

A few plans for the rest of the week:

Laura has her second babysitting engagement, which she finds thrilling.  Putting together the Ikea sideboard, which will be our under-the-chalkboard table, since it is not too deep. I may have the kids sand the sideboard, so I can stain it, because it’s a light pine which doesn’t go with much in the kitchen. And possibly painting the chalkboard, which is an old school board and green. Am thinking black might be a nice change.

Glowing, glimmering greenhouse

A few night shots with the solar-powered fairy lights (with little grapevine globes) from Home Hardware, and the Ikea Solvinden solar-powered lanterns. I couldn’t find a link at Home Hardware for the fairy lights, but they look similar to these at Target, though my string is twice as long. And I bought our Ikea lights at the end of the summer several years ago, so they were considerably less than $12.99 CAN ($9.99 in the US) each.

The lights aren’t that bright since it wasn’t completely dark yet. But it doesn’t get completely dark here now until close to 11 pm, and my own battery runs out long before that. But now that the days are getting shorter (sob…), I should have more pictures before too long.

Yes, we have no bananas

In fact we do. Or we have the potential to have them. As I wrote to Lynne below, I am now the proud owner of a small banana tree, a “Musa gran nain” (large dwarf, which seems worryingly indecisive), which grows to six-eight feet and produces “large heads [I imagine they mean hands] of delicious fruit”. Though perhaps not on the Prairies. It’s apparently the Chiquita banana cultivar, so I may take to calling myself Carmen and singing in the greenhouse. We ran to town to deliver eggs and run some other errands, and stopped in at the one greenhouse closing up for the season. They have an unusually large number of banana plants, and I can’t imagine that there are many more foolish types about in zone 2b.  So I thought I’d best take the nicest one home to prevent it from getting composted shortly.

:: One useful tidbit I’ve picked up — I know Sheila said she likes the terracotta pots, but for all of the larger edibles, I’ve gone with black injection-molded plastic nursery pots, a number of which I’d saved from previous year’s large perennial, shrub, and fruit tree purchases. And the rest of which I got, for free, by asking nicely at the local nursery which does a lively landscaping business.  Some of the pots are tub-size and quite large, just perfect for a big tomato, pumpkin, or a couple of cucumber plants, or a banana. Also, plastic retains moisture better than terracotta. And best of all, it keeps the used pots out of the dump/landfill station.

:: I had just about forgotten that the local decommissioned CN caboose, placed decoratively in the park, is a sort of library (take a book and bring it back, or take one and bring another), quite handy for those camping out in the park with their trailers. The young son of a friend reminded me last night while we were there for a picnic, and while poking through the offerings I found Monty Python’s Just the Words, volumes 1 and 2 in one big fat book (much like this). I thought it would be just perfect for tipi-reading on warm summer days, lounging about in the shade,

Around the garden (in front of the house, by the deck):