• 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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Poetry Friday

Nothing here today — we’ve been waylaid by the big hockey tournament in town, where we spent a good chunk of today cheering on the children’s friend and the rest of the team (they won, hurray!) — but head over to Gina at Cuentesitos, who’s hosting this week’s Poetry Friday roundup.

Earth Day: Wild in love with the planet we’ve got

The frogs are singing loudly now from the ditches, dugouts, and sloughs, the ducks — especially the goldeneyes — are pairing up, the grass is greening, gophers are running about, hawks swoop around overhead, and the prairie crocuses are up.

I missed Poetry Friday again — too many visitors here and places to be there. We had our mandated semi-annual home school facilitator visit (who last time told us, “I can see there’s a lot of learning going on in this house,” one reason I like him so very much), art lessons, cleaned our not-so little pioneer heritage museum, closed up since last fall, went to a working ranch horse sale where Davy was disgusted to leave without buying another horse, and worked on halter-breaking Laura’s 4H calf.

But in time for Earth Day, here is yet another poem from Frances Frost’s The Little Naturalist, 1959:

Valentine for Earth
by Frances Frost (1905-1959)

Oh, it will be fine
To rocket through space
And see the reverse
Of the moon’s dark face,

To travel to Saturn
Or Venus or Mars,
Or maybe discover
Some uncharted stars.

But do they have anything
Better than we?
Do you think, for instance,
They have a blue sea

For sailing and swimming?
Do the planets hills
With raspberry thickets
Where a song sparrow fills

The summer with music?
And do they have snow
To silver the roads
Where the school buses go?

Oh, I’m all for rockets
And worlds cold or hot,
But I’m wild in love
With the planet we’ve got!

Poetry Friday: Bedgraggled but determined

Since the beginning of the month, we’ve had days pelted with snow, wind, and a bit of rain. But we’ve had two sunny, warm(ish) days, the snow is gone from much of the yard and the fields, the meadowlarks are back and singing, and the bluebirds are back and flying around, and in town at least we saw some early bulbs pushing their way through the soil.

Rainy Robin
by Frances Frost (1905-1959)

The April rain that’s pelted
The early robin’s head
For three gray days has threatened
To wash the brilliant red

Out of his chesty feathers;
Now damp, he swings a branch,
Bedraggled but determined
To laud the avalanche.

The April storm has settled
Within his croupy throat:
His open beak produces
Only the hoarsest note.

Off-key he tries his music:
Even his own wife squirms
At his half-squawking lyric
In praise of April worms.

Oh small wet bird, be patient.
The gray will turn to gold,
And you can sing your heart out when
The sun has cured your cold!

(from my old copy of The Little Naturalist, 1959, by Frances Frost, illustrated by Kurt Werth; click here for the online Kurth Werth Gallery)

I’ve posted one or two poems by Frances Frost before, and last time linked to the Register of Frances Frost Papers at the Geisel Library, University of California at San Diego. From which:

Frances Mary Frost contributed to contemporary literature both through her own writing and through the advise and encouragement she provided her son, the poet Paul Blackburn. The daughter of Amos and Susan Frost, Frances was born in St. Albans, Vermont, 3 August 1905. Her father was a railroad engineer for most of his adult life, and the Frosts were a religious, working-class couple whose values and perspective on life permeated most of Frances’ poetry and prose. Before leaving Vermont in the 1930’s, Frost attended Middlebury College and received a Ph.B. from the University of Vermont in 1931.Frost’s first marriage was to William Blackburn, with whom she had two children — Paul and Jean. Frost and Blackburn separated in 1929, after the birth of their daughter, and the two children were left to be raised by their maternal grandfather, Amos Frost. Following Frances’ graduation from the University of Vermont, she moved to New York City and married Samuel G. Stoney, the author of Black Genesis.

Frost’s first success at publishing poetry came in the early 1930’s, with such works as “Hemlock Wall,” “Blue Harvest,” and “These Acres.” In 1933 she was awarded the Katherine Lee Bates poetry prize by the New England Poetry Club, and in 1934 she won the Shelley Memorial Award. She published the first of her four novels, Innocent Summer, in 1936, and the most popular of her novels, Yoke of Stars, became a best seller. Frost also published a number of children’s stories, including Legends of the United Nations, The Windy Foot Series, The Cat That Went to College, and Rocket Away.

Although Frost’s children were raised by their grandparents, Frances always stayed in close contact with them. After the breakup of her second marriage, Frances returned to Vermont and took permanent custody of her son Paul, who returned to New York to live with her. Frost’s daughter, Jean, remained in Vermont with her grandparents. In 1954 Jean became a nun with the Order of St. Joseph in Vermont. Paul lived with his mother until 1946, when he joined the army and served as a laboratory technician in Colorado. While Paul was in the army and overseas, him and his mother continued to offer each other both professional and personal direction through their frequent correspondence.

Frost published a number of children’s books during the 1940’s and 1950’s, but she continued to write poetry whenever possible. Her poems appeared in such publications as The New Yorker, The Saturday Evening Post, and American Mercury. She continued to live in New York until her death of cancer in 1959.

I’ll post round-up information as soon as I get it.

Update: Got it! Liz has the round-up chez Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy.

Poetry Friday: Harvest edition

For Tom, our captain during the swinging change of days

by Frances Frost (1905-1959)

My father’s face is brown with sun,
His body is tall and limber.
His hands are gentle with beast or child
And strong as hardwood timber.

My father’s eyes are the colors of the sky,
Clear blue or gray as rain:
They change with the swinging change of days
While he watches the weather vane.

That galleon, golden upon our barn,
Veers with the world’s four winds.
To fill our barley bins,

To stack our wood and pile our mows
With redtop and sweet tossed clover.
He captains our farm that rides the winds,
A keen-eyed brown earth-lover.


Frances Frost was the mother of poet Paul Blackburn (1926-1971)

Bonne Fete Nationale!

Bastille Day is one of my favorite holidays, and one of my favorite Bastille Day celebrations was an evening in 1993 in San Francisco with some friends. We had a long, lazy dinner at a wonderful bistro (I’m not being coy — I’d share the name if only I could remember it after all these years) surrounded by dozens of Frenchmen and -women in a festive mood, eating wonderful food, drinking fabulous red wine, enjoying decadent desserts, singing the Marseillaise, and dancing in the street afterwards.

How are we celebrating on the prairie? By hauling out some of our LP’s and listening and dancing around the deck to The 1812 Overture (not so easy to dance to) and Offenbach’s Gaite Parisienne (much easier), and eating crepes. And the kids have been mooning over the Papo figurine catalogue, picked up at the Mastermind toy store in Toronto earlier this year. They are intrigued by the French historical collection, which includes Joan of Arc, Louis XIV, Cardinal Richelieu, Francois I, Napoleon, and Admiral Nelson (both of whom would have come in handy for a 200th anniversary recreation the other week); you can see them here. But sadly no little figurines of Louis XVI, with or without detachable head, or a realistic little guillotine to add to our collection, which does in fact include a spiffy catapult — though not the battering ram, as Davy reminded me — for use with our Playmobil castle.

Go storm something today, or better yet, go play on a nearby tennis court or watch the Tour de France and cheer on the French team — allez, David Moncoutie! Or make some crepes, too. Here’s a recipe from a recent Bookcloseouts purchase, The Kids’ Holiday Baking Book by Rosemary Black; since this is a holiday, I’m not going to expound on why I think you should use unbleached flour (or, even better, the organic stuff) or the most recent studies on, gack, Teflon:

Bastille Day Parisian Crepes (makes one dozen)

2 tbsp. butter
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tsp. butter for coating the pan

1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat; set aside to cool.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs very well with an egg beater or with an electric mixer set on low speed. Add the milk, salt, flour, and butter; beat until smooth. Cover and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

3. Heat a 7-inch nonstick skillet or crepe pan over medium-high heat. When it is very hot, apply a very thin film of butter using a paper towel. Pour in several tablespoons of batter, then tilt the pan so that it spreads evenly, coating the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes.

4. When the bottom is golden and you can easily lift the edges up from the pan, turn it over with a spatula. Cook for another 1 or 2 minutes. Remove to a plate, apply a very thin film of butter to the pan, and make more crepes.

5. There are several ways to eat crepes. You can simply spread one with strawberry or raspberry jam, roll it up, and eat it. Or you can slice and sugar some strawberries, roll them into a crepe, and top with whipped cream [the real stuff, s’il vous plait, et pas le mauvais whip de cool].

You can also have a yummy savory dinner of crepes filled with ham and Swiss cheese, or just about anything else, and they are beyond with some souffle batter rolled up inside and then baked briefly; crepes happen to be a very useful way of disguising or reconfiguring leftovers (sneaky mom hint of the day).

Allons, enfants! Let’s go, kids — into the kitchen! And let them eat crepes.

P.S. Anyone have an idea of how to make the necessary French accents on Blogger? And how to explain it simply to the technologically challenged? Merci ever so much.