• 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.


(With apologies for not always being as current as it should be)

What We’re Reading, Watching, Listening to, and Playing with:

As of February 2013:


Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley, the latest Flavia de Luce, a series Laura very much enjoys

The Kirtland’s Warbler: The Story of a Bird’s Fight Against Extinction and the People Who Saved It by William Rapai; one of Laura’s Christmas presents which she just finished up

Noel Perrin’s collected essays on farming (Tom’s Christmas present): First Person Rural: Essays of a Sometime Farmer; Second Person Rural; Third Person Rural; Best Person Rural; Last Person Rural. Noel Perrin has always been a favorite of mine so I was glad to be able to get Tom hooked.

Top Gear 2013 Official Annual (boys)

How Things are Made: From Automobiles to Zippers by Sharon Rose and Neil Schlager (Davy)


“Fahrenheit 9/11”

“Revenge of the Electric Car”

“My Family and Other Animals”, the most recent Masterpiece Theater version, again

Listening To

Lioness: Hidden Treasures by Amy Winehouse

Audiobook of Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time, read by Derek Jacobi; from BBC Audio, unabridged on six discs

Playing With

Fishing tackle and ice augers


Hey, an update! Well, an update in progress. As of June 2009:

What We’re Reading, Watching, Listening to, and Playing with:


Stuffed: Growing Up in a Restaurant Family by Patricia Volk (Becky)

Speaking of being stuffed — The Foie Gras Wars: How a 5,000-Year-Old Delicacy Inspired the World’s Fiercest Food Fight by Mark Caro (Becky), a birthday gift from my father.  By the way, I returned the favor and sent him for his recent birthday Nicolas Freeling’s The Kitchen Book/The Cook Book (David Godine reprint, 1991).

Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw (Becky)

The Snoring Bird: My Family’s Journey Through a Century of Biology by Bernd Heinrich (Becky), which I got at BookCloseouts; I’m hoping I can finish this shortly and get to Heinrich’s newest, Summer World: A Season of Bounty

An Unlikely Friendship: A Novel of Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley by Ann Rinaldi (Laura), which I also got at BookCloseouts

Quilling for Scrapbooks and Cards by Susan Lowman (Laura)

Songbird Journeys: Four Seasons In the Lives of Migratory Birds by Miyoko Chu (Laura)

Fire, Bed & Bone by Henrietta Branford (Daniel); the story of Wat Tyler and the Peasants’ Uprising, as narrated by a dog.  No kidding.


“Due South” with Paul Gross; the kids adore Benton Fraser.  Thank you kindly.

“The Belle of Amherst” with Julie Harris

“The Arrow” with Dan Aykroyd

Listening to

Birding podcasts (Laura)

“Key Principles” from the duo Nathan (Laura)

Kingfisher Days by Susan Coyne (Laura and Becky); I’ve long loved the book but this is the perfect thing to listen to while working in the garden on a Canadian summer day, and Laura is being taken by the magic, too.

“Appalachian Journey” with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Mark O’Connor, Alison Krauss and others

“Appalachia Waltz” with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Mark O’Connor

“Vinyl Cafe” story CDs written and performed by Stuart McLean; the preferred bedtime listening for all three kids.

Playing with


The new inflatable dinghy

The new-to-him telescope-without-tripod which Davy received for free at a garage sale

The tent, where the boys have started camping out overnight


New York, Autumn 2008: Planning for our trip

This year’s readalouds:

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden (a re-readaloud)

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (a re-readaloud)

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George; the link is for a modern paperback, though we have a grand old 1959 library hardbound with lovely pen and ink drawings, which stays open nicely for reading and picture perusing.

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

The Water Horse by Dick King-Smith; I linked to the older library edition, with the illustration of two boys and the water horse. I’m not keen on movie tie-ins, so I avoided linking to the new movie tie-in paperback.


What We’re Reading, Watching, Listening to, and Playing with:


Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker by Stacy A. Cordery

The House That George Built: With a Little Help from Irving, Cole, and a Crew of About Fifty by Wilfrid Sheed


“Waitress” (2007) with Keri Russell, Adrienne Shelly, Nathan Fillion, and Andy Griffith; directed by Adrienne Shelly

“The Steve McQueen Collection”: The Great Escape, Junior Bonner, The Magnificent Seven, The Thomas Crown Affair

Listening to

“That’s Entertainment” six CD box set, fortunately bought before Amazon hiked the price by $30

Playing with



One Response

  1. I am the cameraman that filmed the BBC 2 Natural World “Lobo -The Wolf That Changed America that was recently shown hAere in the UK. I am really impressed with how much research you have done on Ernest Thompson Seton and see that you read the article by Steve Gooder and that youwould really like to see my film. If you give me an address I will happily post you a DVD of the film so that you can watch it. It will go out on PBS but not for many months so you guys could be the first to see it in Canada. Very impressed with your site and what you are doing.
    Best wishes. Ian McCarthy

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