• 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.

Our late summer visitor

I noticed this morning while feeding the chickens that all eight roosters were outside in the pen. This is unusual because the four at the top of the pecking order generally stroll around the pen, lording and swanning around, while the four at the bottom of the pecking order quake and cower on the roosts in their little coop. But they were all outdoors this morning. I neared the door, to fill the feeder and peer into the semi-darkness.

And there I saw a bird on the roost. It didn’t look roosterlike, though. It was much more straight up and down, with its head tucked in its shoulder. I whistled, and it raised its head. It was a hawk. In my chicken coop. I quickly and quietly closed the door, and when we got back to the house, instead of proceeding with the chokecherry syrup odyssey, phoned the Fish & Wildlife office in town. I’ve learned to do a lot of things since moving to the farm, but catching raptors isn’t one, and I have a healthy respect for their talons.

An officer turned up on our doorstop before too long, and the kids were all excitement to tumble into the truck and show him our visitor. (I grabbed the digital camera so Tom wouldn’t think I’d been hitting the sauce, chokecherry or otherwise, in his absence.) The officer headed toward the coop with a net,

and quickly and easily netted the hawk. Then the untangling,

and identifying. I had thought from my brief glimpse in the partial dark that it might be a young red-tailed hawk but it was a ferruginous hawk (Buteo regalis), and regal the young male was. Ferruginous hawks aren’t quite as common around here, since their range is a bit further south, usually the southeastern corner of the province. The ferruginous hawk dives for prey from high soaring flights, which is probably how our visitor got between the squares of the page wire over the chicken pen.

And then the best part, when the Fish & Wildlife officer asked the kids if they’d each like to hold the hawk. Davy kept his distance and said no, thanks, but Daniel and Laura were eager. The officer helped them grab the bird’s legs (thank goodness for kids who keep work gloves at the ready) and then let each child hold the bird alone. Daniel got to go first,

Laura went next

and later got to release the hawk, I tried to snap pictures as quickly as possible, and then the cautious Davy got to ride partway home in the officer’s truck and sound the siren and the lights (needless to say, more than one of the kids has added “Fish & Wildlife officer” — or junior falconer — to the list of possible desirable occupations). After Laura released the hawk, throwing her arm up high and steadily as instructed, our young friend took off for the trees at the edge of our corrals to rest and recuperate from his adventure,

It’s almost enough to make me sorry that the kids aren’t headed toward a regular classroom next week, so they could answer the old question: What did you do on your summer vacation?!

Rescued from the sump pit

One of the kids’ jobs in the spring and summer is to keep an eye on the sump pit in the garage, to fish out anything or anyone that’s not supposed to be in there. This morning Laura discovered a tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum var. melanostictum), which is quite common in these parts of the province; we’re at the northern edge of their range. Tiger salamanders are part of the “mole salamander” family, because they stay underground most of the time, often in the burrows of other animals.

Very handsome little beasties, and fast.

For the birds

Late last spring, the kids asked if we could have “bird school” all summer. So, in addition to our various field guides, we pulled all of the bird books off the shelves and grouped them together in the living room on the coffee table. Indoors and out, the kids read the various books themselves, to each other, and asked for readalouds of others. I kept meaning to put all of the titles in a post, but never got around to something so linky and time-consuming.

But Susan at Chicken Spaghetti has, in a recent post on Bird Books for Children that she and her son have been enjoying. The list includes books, websites, and blogs, including a link to Kelly at Big A little a‘s bird book bibliography earlier this year.

And don’t forget Chris Barton‘s bird book post from last fall, either.

A better late than never reminder for the (Late) Late Spring Edition of Dawn’s Field Days

Dawn at By Sun and Candlelight has this season’s installment, in words and plentiful pictures, of the latest Field Day, just in time for late Spring. Rainbows, skinks, flowers, birds and bird books — something for everyone, especially on an early Spring morning or a quiet, rainy day. Thank you, Dawn, for the wonderful idea and for continuing, season after season.

Found in the garden this morning

Happily and busily planting, transplanting, and moving things around in the flower garden early today, I came across this

which on closer inspection

proved to be a robin’s egg. But why the female robin chose to lay it out in the open, with no nest in sight and far from any trees or shrubs, is a mystery. The grass at left was provided by me, and after taking pictures I recovered the egg to protect it from marauding magpies.