Chelsea Green Publishing

Gene Everlasting

Pages:192 pages
Size: 5.5 x 8.5 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Hardcover: 9781603585392
Pub. Date January 24, 2014
eBook: 9781603585408
Pub. Date January 24, 2014

Gene Everlasting

A Contrary Farmer's Thoughts on Living Forever


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Hardcover

Available Date:
January 24, 2014

$24.95 $6.24

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Availability: In Stock

eBook

Available Date:
January 24, 2014

$24.95 $6.24

Author Gene Logsdon—whom Wendell Berry once called “the most experienced and best observer of agriculture we have”—has a notion: That it is a little easier for gardeners and farmers to accept death than the rest of the populace. Why? Because every day, farmers and gardeners help plants and animals begin life and help plants and animals end life. They are intimately attuned to the food chain. They understand how all living things are seated around a dining table, eating while being eaten. They realize that all of nature is in flux.

Gene Everlasting contains Logsdon’s reflections, by turns both humorous and heart-wrenching, on nature, death, and eternity, all from a contrary farmer’s perspective. He recounts joys and tragedies from his childhood in the 1930s and ‘40s spent on an Ohio farm, through adulthood and child-raising, all the way up to his recent bout with cancer, always with an eye toward the lessons that farming has taught him about life and its mysteries.

Whether his subject is parsnips, pigweed, immortality, irises, green burial, buzzards, or compound interest, Logsdon generously applies as much heart and wit to his words as he does care and expertise to his fields. 

REVIEWS AND PRAISE

Booklist-

"In a prolific career stretching back to the early 1970s, Logsdon has penned hundreds of farm and garden articles, four novels, and nearly two dozen nonfiction books on topics ranging from cutting wood to managing manure. Now entering his ninth decade, Logsdon turns his attention here to his own, and everyone else’s, unavoidable demise. In 21 contemplative and often trenchantly witty essays, the author ruminates over a wide variety of religious and materialistic ideas about death and finds the greatest comfort in the notion that, when his body returns to the soil, it will provide sustenance for new life. Logsdon praises the contemporary trend toward burials in biodegradable caskets and takes a jaundiced view of beliefs in a blissful, never-ending afterlife. Related pieces review his mother’s last week of life, the reasons people commit suicide, and an “immortal” herbicide-resistant weed. While his legion of fans may pale at the thought that Logsdon has just written his swan song, his recent remission from cancer offers hope that his writing days are far from over.” 

Shelf Awareness, Starred Review-

"As anyone who has lived on a farm can attest, one is closer to life and death when dealing with nature and animals on a daily basis. The poetic prose of Gene Logsdon's Gene Everlasting, a reflection on life as an Ohio farmer, brings readers into that close connection of beginnings and endings, the inner, always-turning circle of chores, natural discoveries and seasonal work.

Logsdon (A Sanctuary of Trees) blends careful observations of the natural world with sometimes humorous, often melancholic contemplations that gently lead the reader to ponder such topics as the death of a beloved pet, the mysterious nature of cemeteries, the number of suicides in any given year, butchering hogs, buzzards in the backyard and the sudden uptick in backyard farms and gardens. He expertly intertwines these seemingly disconnected subjects with the cyclic qualities of nature and the overall sense that life and death are forever paired—that one cannot and should not exist without the other, thereby removing the fear of death.

Logsdon also eloquently reveals early childhood memories and his fears of the meaning of everlasting hell, his acceptance of his mother's untimely death and his own need to confront death when diagnosed with cancer. The culminating effect is not morbid, but philosophical and absorbing, like a musical fugue that builds and recedes, gracefully moving toward an acceptance and understanding of what living and dying truly mean.”

Publishers Weekly-

"Dryly humorous, intelligently original, and at times poetic, Logsdon (A Sanctuary of Trees) muses and wisecracks about cycles of life and death, nature’s resilience, and humanity’s follies from the rolling hills and changing seasons of his farm in Sandusky, Ohio, just steps from where he grew up, as he finds himself still alive after a bout with cancer. The themes of these short essays vary widely: the hypocrisy of money-lending and compound interest; the need for 'secret crying places'; the breathtaking but 'awesomely eerie' wonder of buzzards: 'nothing symbolizes better the reality of farm and garden, bustling with life but always near to death,' he writes. Logsdon seems to have taken to heart the lessons he’s gleaned from parsnips: 'cultivate an independent kind of ornery reliability…, develop a distinctive personality… appreciated by the few rather than the many…, don’t try to look too pretty… you’ll be asked to head up a fund-raiser.' Great bedtime reading, these succinct, thought-provoking, life-affirming essays are a perfect gift for your favorite gardener, nature lover, philosopher, or curmudgeon."

Kirkus Reviews-

STARRED REVIEW: "A self-proclaimed contrarian and octogenarian cancer survivor finds renewal in the prospect of death while raising issues that challenge science and religion alike. Though Logsdon (A Sanctuary of Trees, 2012) loves nature as much as the next writer and more than most, he refuses to indulge in the usual sentimentality and poetics of nature writing in this series of interconnected essays that combine plainspoken prose, cleareyed observation and provocative thought. There is plenty here to annoy environmental alarmists, Christians, Republicans, agribusiness, vegetarians (or anyone else bothered by the detailed, don’t-read-before-dinner description of killing and butchering) and others who subscribe to various forms of conventional wisdom. 'I write this book believing that the human race, including myself, is irrational,' he says. 'But being irrational is not all bad….Nevertheless, totally contradicting everything I have written above (another mark of human insanity), I really do intend this book to be a comfort and a solace for those people facing death. And that means all of us.' The author maintains that despite 'much hand-wringing over diseases that are attacking oak trees…as long as climate dictates trees, trees in one form or another will be here.' The perceptual problem, says the writer who once studied to be a priest, is that 'the human mind sees cycles because we think in terms of beginnings and endings, of causes and effects, of time passing. But the forest acts only in the everlasting NOW.' And that 'everlasting NOW' provides perspective and comfort throughout these meditations on mortality and renewal, particularly after the author’s cancer diagnosis. He experienced an epiphany during the final spring he thought he might not experience: 'I wanted May to last forever. But now I understood that it was only because nature changed every month, every day, every moment, that it could come again. Only through change is permanence achieved….To understand immortality, embrace mortality.' Wisdom and experience permeate this perceptive and understatedly well-written meditation."

AWARDS

  • Runner-up - Ohioana Book Awards - 2015

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gene Logsdon

A prolific nonfiction writer, novelist, and journalist, Gene Logsdon has published more than two dozen books, both practical and philosophical. Gene’s nonfiction works include Holy Shit, Small-Scale Grain Raising, Living at Nature’s Pace, The Contrary Farmer's Invitation to Gardening, Good Spirits, and The Contrary Farmer. His most recent novel is Pope Mary and the Church of Almighty Good Food. He writes a popular blog, The Contrary Farmer, as well as an award-winning column for the Carey Ohio Progressor Times, and is a regular contributor to Farming Magazine and Draft Horse Journal. He lives and farms in Upper Sandusky, Ohio. You can visit his blog at http://thecontraryfarmer.wordpress.com/.

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A Sanctuary of Trees

A Sanctuary of Trees

By Gene Logsdon

As author Gene Logsdon puts it, "We are all tree huggers." But not just for sentimental or even environmental reasons. Humans have always depended on trees for our food, shelter, livelihood, and safety. In many ways, despite the Grimm's fairy-tale version of the dark, menacing forest, most people still hold a deep cultural love of woodland settings, and feel right at home in the woods.

In this latest book, A Sanctuary of Trees, Logsdon offers a loving tribute to the woods, tracing the roots of his own home groves in Ohio back to the Native Americans and revealing his own history and experiences living in many locations, each of which was different, yet inextricably linked with trees and the natural world. Whether as an adolescent studying at a seminary or as a journalist living just outside Philadelphia's city limits, Gene has always lived and worked close to the woods, and his curiosity and keen sense of observation have taught him valuable lessons about a wide variety of trees: their distinct characteristics and the multiple benefits and uses they have.

In addition to imparting many fascinating practical details of woods wisdom, A Sanctuary of Trees is infused with a philosophy and descriptive lyricism that is born from the author's passionate and lifelong relationship with nature: There is a point at which the tree shudders before it begins its descent. Then slowly it tips, picks up speed, often with a kind of wailing death cry from rending wood fibers, and hits the ground with a whump that literally shakes the earth underfoot. The air, in the aftermath, seems to shimmy and shiver, as if saturated with static electricity. Then follows an eerie silence, the absolute end to a very long life.

Fitting squarely into the long and proud tradition of American nature writing, A Sanctuary of Trees also reflects Gene Logsdon's unique personality and perspective, which have marked him over the course of his two dozen previous books as the authentic voice of rural life and traditions.

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Good Spirits

Good Spirits

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Here we go. Gene "The Contrary Farmer" Logsdon has taken on some controversial subjects in his time, but this time he has bitten off ("sipped on" doesn't sound right) a topic bound to raise strong feelings on both sides of society's moral boundary lines. His subject is alcohol and its traditional role on the family homestead. Not surprisingly, Gene speaks the bare-naked truth, and finds a lot more good than bad to say about booze.

Alcohol has historically played a significant role in agricultural life. In colonial times it was the most "liquid" alternative to hard currency as a means of exchange. Alcohol was the most reliable, safest, and most convenient way to store the grain harvest, and was an integral commodity on nearly every farmstead. Because it was so valued--does this surprise us?--the government muscled in, looking for its own piece of the action. George Washington was the first of many politicians to regulate alcohol as a means to generate revenues and gain political control.

Good Spirits is a rare and brave revisionist view of history. Logsdon is a master at exposing the absurdity of the commonplace. Does it really make sense that the government can make it illegal for us to combine common substances (grain, water, and yeast) on our own property? Can it be true that every war effort in the nation's history has been fueled literally and figuratively by alcohol and the tax revenues it produces? Why must the farmer fund the government that oppresses him?

In between good-natured tirades, Logsdon makes sure the reader learns some valuable lessons. He tells us how to make beer; he teaches the rudiments of distilling; he interviews Booker Noe (patron of America's First Family of bourbon) to tell us how to sip and tell; and he adds lively tales from alcohol's quasi-legitimate past. This is vintage Contrary Farmer: 100-proof, single-barrel select. Good Spirits is outrageous, entertaining, enlightening, and an eye-poppingly interesting, natural and holistic look at the role of alcohol. You will savor this book like a snifter of Calvados, the double-distilled apple brandy of Normandy that evaporates on the tongue like a heavenly ambrosia. Heady stuff, but delicious when consumed in moderation.

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Small-Scale Grain Raising

Small-Scale Grain Raising

By Gene Logsdon

First published in 1977, this book—from one of America’s most famous and prolific agricultural writers—became an almost instant classic among homestead gardeners and small farmers. Now fully updated and available once more, Small-Scale Grain Raising offers a entirely new generation of readers the best introduction to a wide range of both common and lesser-known specialty grains and related field crops, from corn, wheat, and rye to buckwheat, millet, rice, spelt, flax, and even beans and sunflowers.

More and more Americans are seeking out locally grown foods, yet one of the real stumbling blocks to their efforts has been finding local sources for grains, which are grown mainly on large, distant corporate farms. At the same time, commodity prices for grains—and the products made from them—have skyrocketed due to rising energy costs and increased demand. In this book, Gene Logsdon proves that anyone who has access to a large garden or small farm can (and should) think outside the agribusiness box and learn to grow healthy whole grains or beans—the base of our culinary food pyramid—alongside their fruits and vegetables.

Starting from the simple but revolutionary concept of the garden “pancake patch,” Logsdon opens up our eyes to a whole world of plants that we wrongly assume only the agricultural “big boys” can grow. He succinctly covers all the basics, from planting and dealing with pests, weeds, and diseases to harvesting, processing, storing, and using whole grains. There are even a few recipes sprinkled throughout, along with more than a little wit and wisdom.

Never has there been a better time, or a more receptive audience, for this book. Localvores, serious home gardeners, CSA farmers, and whole-foods advocates—in fact, all people who value fresh, high-quality foods—will find a field full of information and ideas in this once and future classic.

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The Contrary Farmer

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Gene Logsdon has become something of a rabble-rouser in progressive farm circles, stirring up debates and controversies with his popular New Farm Magazine column, The Contrary Farmer. One of Logsdon's principle contrarieties is the opinion that--popular images of the vanishing American farmer, notwithstanding--greater numbers of people in the U.S. will soon be growing and raising a greater share of their own food than at any time since the last century. Instead of vanishing, more and more farmers will be cottage farming, part-time.

This detailed and personal account of how Logsdon's family uses the art and science of agriculture to achieve a reasonably happy and ecologically sane way of life in an example for all who seek a sustainable lifestyle. In The Contrary Farmer, Logsdon offers the tried-and-true, practical advice of a manual for the cottage farmer, as well as the subtler delights of a meditation in praise of work and pleasure. The Contrary Farmer will give its readers tools and tenets, but also hilarious commentaries and beautiful evocations of the Ohio countryside that Logsdon knows as his place in the universe.

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