• 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.farmschool@gmail.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.


All the permanent staircases are in now in the house. No more temporary stairs, or ladders, or scaffolding!

Here’s the main floor staircase,




Calving continues but we’re on the downhill slide, with 23 or so cows left to go, and about 75 calves bouncing around. The mud (you can see a bit in the lower right corner) which was everywhere and deep has started to dry up, especially after several unpleasantly windy days. Today we enjoyed a high of 15 degrees Celsius (59 F), an increase of 14 degrees since yesterday!



We need some new bulls for the cows this summer — they get too old and too related — so Tom and the boys went to a bull sale the other weekend, where they bought three bulls (two two-year-olds for this summer, and a one-year-old for next summer), and then the kids went to another sale yesterday, buying two bulls. The boys also went to another sale where they bought some heifers. The local college in town has a student-managed farm and so, it seems, do we.

And we dug another dugout, to help water the shelter belt trees and new garden,


Spring progress


All the framing, inside and outside, is done. The permanent stairs are done for the basement, in the house and from the garage. The permanent staircase from the main floor to the second floor will be completed in a few days; we’re planning to pick up the ready-made maple volute next week. The temporary staircase from the house has now moved over to the garage apartment, which will give the electrician, who just started, and the plumber (currently taking estimates), easy access. Tom will start calling drywallers fairly soon, so they can start as soon as the wiring and plumbing are finished.

I’ve started ordering light fixtures and towel warmers and have a list of things to order — more light fixtures, a corner bathtub, plumbing fixtures. One thing everyone remembered from last year’s trip to France was towel warmers, so I did some research. While Runtal is the market leader, they’re out of our budget, but I read good things about Warmly Yours and was able to order their Infinity model online from Costco.ca without a membership. A bit of a splurge, but a modest one and also practical in our climate.

On a trip to the city at the beginning of the month, we stopped at Ikea, since they were having their bathroom sale, to pick up to vanities with sink tops for the workshop bathroom (very tiny) and garage bathroom (much larger, and with a shower so anyone muddy from gardening or chores can clean up). Once we get them set up, we’ll be able to decide if we want them for the apartment and the rest of the house. The price is definitely right, especially with the sale (there’s another one in July, I believe); the quality is good; and I like the drawers and all the storage. We picked the 48″ Godmorgon/Odensvik with four drawers, in walnut, for the garage; and the 20-1/8″ Tyngen.

In between, we’ve been welcoming babies, and dealing with mud, snow, ice, mud, snow, ice, slush, snow, and more mud. Spring seemed closer one month ago than it did last weekend. But the days are slowly getting warmer and longer, which is delightful.



Earlier this month, on a very grey day,



The garage entrance to the house, with the garage bathroom at right (behind the landing),


Garage doors are coming soon. In the meantime, orange tarps make for a drier, warmer place to work and give a sunny glow. Making the basement stairs for the garage entrance,


Moving them to the permanent location,


In place,


The view from the basement entrance and the cold room,


The basement stairs inside the house,



The view from the basement,



Electricity in the workshop!



More stairs. Temporary ones now in place to the apartment. Goodbye, ladder!



Working on the main staircase in the house,


The view from the second floor,

IMG_2814 IMG_2815


Another story

Work on the new house stopped last October. It got too cold and snowy for working outdoors, Tom had other projects for clients, we went to France and Germany for four weeks after the new year, the kids made it to high school provincials for curling in February and March, Tom and I travelled to the West Indies to clear out the last bits from my parents’ retirement house before the sale (hallelujah), then it was calving season, and more big projects for clients.

Work started up again last week, and first thing on the schedule was to start working on the second story. The main floor now has a ceiling and the second story has a floor. Wall-building begins tomorrow, and Tom and I double-checked all the window placements this afternoon.

The view from the master bedroom’s tower sitting area (facing northeast),



Another view from the master bedroom’s tower sitting area, facing southeast,


View from the bedroom (facing east); you can see how dry it’s been, with only one decent rain (this past week) since March,


View from the guest bedroom (facing north),


The living room tower sitting area, on the main floor,


The kitchen, with the pantry on the other side of the wall; the window is on the sink wall,



The pantry, a very exciting prospect!


Dining room (facing south) surrounded by the larch trees we planted eight years ago,


Dining room door to the back porch, facing west,


The living room, facing north and the front of the house,


The temporary stairs (the actual stairs will be over to the right), which Tom rescued from the old farm supply store’s warehouse before it was demolished 25 years ago,


Some summer scenes

Something cheerier for this post, and an attempt to catch up.

4H beef club achievement days in late May; the kids each did well with all of their animals (the boys each had a steer and a heifer; Laura had a steer, heifer, and cow-calf pair), and Laura also received her platinum award for diary points. Davy, at left, and Daniel at right, with their animals,



In June, we had to do some fencing at our far pasture before we could move the cattle in; since we were there for hours at a time, cookouts were an easy way to have meals in the field:



The shelterbelt lilacs in the field where we’re building the new house were beautiful this year with lots of blooms and lots of growth, thanks to heavy spring rains:





In late July, I had a pile of leftover grated cabbage, intended for coleslaw (a meal I catered at the country fair), so I turned it into sauerkraut, in my mother-in-law’s old 10-gallon crock:




First window

Preparing to install the first window in the new house, fittingly in the tower (all photos by second son),



And it’s in,


IMG_3259 - Version 2


The tower has six windows, one of which will be operable; the east wall of the living room (the photo just above is facing east) will have window near the tower, so with both of those open we’ll be able to have nice cross breezes from Spring through Fall.


Tower rising

Tom (at right) and crew (including older son, at left) started building the tower today. And the windows arrived earlier this week.

Photos by younger son,


Using the invaluable telehandler,



A few shots I took this evening,





Inside the tower,



Spring arrived with a cold snap, heavy winds, and the possibility of snow. The overnight temp is forecasted to be -20C, with a wind chill of -30. Not ideal for calving, especially since we had three calves last night and one this morning. Tom and the kids spent part of the moving calf sheds into the pens for extra shelter.

One of my amaryllises from two years ago started sending up a flower stalk, and began blooming over the weekend (ignore the brown on the edge of one of the petals). Right around the same time I picked up these tulips at the florist shop in town, and they’re still hanging on.