Chelsea Green Publishing

Gene Everlasting

Pages:192 pages
Size: 5.5 x 8.5 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603587365
Pub. Date February 09, 2017
eBook: 9781603585408
Pub. Date January 24, 2014

Gene Everlasting

A Contrary Farmer's Thoughts on Living Forever

Availability: In Stock

Paperback

Available Date:
February 09, 2017

$17.95

Availability: In Stock

eBook

Available Date:
January 24, 2014

$17.95 $14.36

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

Over the course of his long life and career as a writer, farmer, and journalist, Gene Logsdon published more than two dozen books, both practical and philosophical, on all aspects of rural life and affairs. His nonfiction works include Gene Everlasting, A Sanctuary of Trees, and Living at Nature’s Pace. He wrote a popular blog, The Contrary Farmer, as well as an award-winning column for the Carey, Ohio, Progressor Times. Gene was also a contributor to Farming Magazine and The Draft Horse Journal. He lived and farmed in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, where he died in 2016, a few weeks after finishing his final book, Letter to a Young Farmer.

ALSO BY THIS AUTHOR

Living at Nature's Pace

Living at Nature's Pace

By Gene Logsdon

For decades, Logsdon and his family have run a viable family farm. Along the way, he has become a widely influential journalist and social critic, documenting in hundreds of essays for national and regional magazines the crisis in conventional agri-business and the boundless potential for new forms of farming that reconcile tradition with ecology.

Logsdon reminds us that healthy and economical agriculture must work "at nature's pace," instead of trying to impose an industrial order on the natural world. Foreseeing a future with "more farmers, not fewer," he looks for workable models among the Amish, among his lifelong neighbors in Ohio, and among resourceful urban gardeners and a new generation of defiantly unorthodox organic growers creating an innovative farmers-market economy in every region of the country.

Nature knows how to grow plants and raise animals; it is human beings who are in danger of losing this age-old expertise, substituting chemical additives and artificial technologies for the traditional virtues of fertility, artistry, and knowledge of natural processes. This new edition of Logsdon's important collection of essays and articles (first published by Pantheon in 1993) contains six new chapters taking stock of American farm life at this turn of the century.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

Read More

Living at Nature's Pace

Gene Logsdon, Wendell Berry

Paperback $25.00

Holy Shit

Holy Shit

By Gene Logsdon

In his insightful new book, Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind, contrary farmer Gene Logsdon provides the inside story of manure-our greatest, yet most misunderstood, natural resource. He begins by lamenting a modern society that not only throws away both animal and human manure-worth billions of dollars in fertilizer value-but that spends a staggering amount of money to do so. This wastefulness makes even less sense as the supply of mined or chemically synthesized fertilizers dwindles and their cost skyrockets. In fact, he argues, if we do not learn how to turn our manures into fertilizer to keep food production in line with increasing population, our civilization, like so many that went before it, will inevitably decline.

With his trademark humor, his years of experience writing about both farming and waste management, and his uncanny eye for the small but important details, Logsdon artfully describes how to manage farm manure, pet manure and human manure to make fertilizer and humus. He covers the field, so to speak, discussing topics like:

  • How to select the right pitchfork for the job and use it correctly
  • How to operate a small manure spreader
  • How to build a barn manure pack with farm animal manure
  • How to compost cat and dog waste
  • How to recycle toilet water for irrigation purposes, and
  • How to get rid ourselves of our irrational paranoia about feces and urine.

Gene Logsdon does not mince words. This fresh, fascinating and entertaining look at an earthy, but absolutely crucial subject, is a small gem and is destined to become a classic of our agricultural literature.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

Read More

Holy Shit

Gene Logsdon, Brooke Budner

Paperback $17.50

Letter to a Young Farmer

Letter to a Young Farmer

By Gene Logsdon

For more than four decades, the self-described “contrary farmer” and writer Gene Logsdon has commented on the state of American agriculture. In Letter to a Young Farmer, his final book of essays, Logsdon addresses the next generation—young people who are moving back to the land to enjoy a better way of life as small-scale “garden farmers.” It’s a lifestyle that isn’t defined by accumulating wealth or by the “get big or get out” agribusiness mindset. Instead, it’s one that recognizes the beauty of nature, cherishes the land, respects our fellow creatures, and values rural traditions. It’s one that also looks forward and embraces “right technologies,” including new and innovative ways of working smarter, not harder, and avoiding premature burnout.

Completed only a few weeks before the author’s death, Letter to a Young Farmer is a remarkable testament to the life and wisdom of one of the greatest rural philosophers and writers of our time. Gene’s earthy wit and sometimes irreverent humor combines with his valuable perspectives on many wide-ranging subjects—everything from how to show a ram who’s boss to enjoying the almost churchlike calmness of a well-built livestock barn.

Reading this book is like sitting down on the porch with a neighbor who has learned the ways of farming through years of long observation and practice. Someone, in short, who has “seen it all” and has much to say, and much to teach us, if we only take the time to listen and learn. And Gene Logsdon was the best kind of teacher: equal parts storyteller, idealist, and rabble-rouser. His vision of a nation filled with garden farmers, based in cities, towns, and countrysides, will resonate with many people, both young and old, who long to create a more sustainable, meaningful life for themselves and a better world for all of us.

Available in: Hardcover, eBook

Read More

Letter to a Young Farmer

Gene Logsdon, Wendell Berry

Hardcover $22.50

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.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

Read More

A Sanctuary of Trees

Gene Logsdon

Paperback $19.95

AUTHOR VIDEOS

Gene Logsdon's Holy Shit

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

Growing, Older

Growing, Older

By Joan Dye Gussow

Michael Pollan calls her one of his food heroes. Barbara Kingsolver credits her with shaping the history and politics of food in the United States. And countless others who have vied for a food revolution, pushed organics, and reawakened Americans to growing their own food and eating locally consider her both teacher and muse.Joan Gussow has influenced thousands through her books, This Organic Life and The Feeding Web, her lectures, and the simple fact that she lives what she preaches. Now in her eighties, she stops once more to pass along some wisdom-surprising, inspiring, and controversial-via the pen.

Gussow's memoir Growing, Older begins when she loses her husband of 40 years to cancer and, two weeks later, finds herself skipping down the street-much to her alarm. Why wasn't she grieving in all the normal ways? With humor and wit, she explains how she stopped worrying about why she was smiling and went on worrying, instead, and as she always has, about the possibility that the world around her was headed off a cliff. But hers is not a tale, or message, of gloom. Rather it is an affirmation of a life's work-and work in general.

Lacking a partner's assistance, Gussow continued the hard labor of growing her own year-round diet. She dealt single-handedly with a rising tidal river that regularly drowned her garden, with muskrat interlopers, broken appliances, bodily decay, and river trash-all the while bucking popular notions of how "an elderly widowed woman" ought to behave.

Scattered throughout are urgent suggestions about what growing older on a changing planet will call on all of us to do: learn self-reliance and self-restraint, yield graciously if not always happily to necessity, and-since there is no other choice-come to terms with the insistencies of the natural world. Gussow delivers another literary gem-one that women curious about aging, gardeners curious about contending with increasingly intense weather, or environmentalists curious about the future will embrace.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

Read More

Growing, Older

Joan Dye Gussow

Paperback $24.95

This Organic Life

This Organic Life

By Joan Dye Gussow

Joan Dye Gussow is an extraordinarily ordinary woman. She lives in a home not unlike the average home in a neighborhood that is, more or less, typically suburban. What sets her apart from the rest of us is that she thinks more deeply--and in more eloquent detail--about food. In sharing her ponderings, she sets a delightful example for those of us who seek the healthiest, most pleasurable lifestyle within an environment determined to propel us in the opposite direction. Joan is a suburbanite with a green thumb, with a feisty, defiant spirit and a relentlessly positive outlook.

At the heart of This Organic Life is the premise that locally grown food eaten in season makes sense economically, ecologically, and gastronomically. Transporting produce to New York from California--not to mention Central and South America, Australia, or Europe--consumes more energy in transit than it yields in calories. (It costs 435 fossil fuel calories to fly a 5-calorie strawberry from California to New York.) Add in the deleterious effects of agribusiness, such as the endless cycle of pesticide, herbicide, and chemical fertilizers; the loss of topsoil from erosion of over-tilled croplands; depleted aquifers and soil salinization from over-irrigation; and the arguments in favor of "this organic life" become overwhelmingly convincing.

Joan's story is funny and fiery as she points out the absurdities we have unthinkingly come to accept. You won't find an electric can opener in this woman's house. In fact, you probably won't find many cans, as Joan has discovered ways to nourish herself, literally and spiritually, from her own backyard. If you are looking for a tale of courage and independence in a setting that is entirely familiar, read her story.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

Read More

This Organic Life

Joan Dye Gussow

Paperback $24.95

Slowspoke

Slowspoke

By Mark Schimmoeller

Why a unicycle? Why a cross-country trip? Why leave a prominent New York magazine and return to the simple life in Kentucky?

Reminiscent of classic literary travelogues, Mark Schimmoeller’s Slowspoke: A Unicyclist’s Guide to America takes readers on an inward, emotional journey as he inches across landscapes and communities from North Carolina to Arizona.

Schimmoeller became inspired by his unicycle as an adolescent. It taught him that rushing—whether down the driveway or toward adulthood—would cause a fall, and so, instead of accepting the speeding, straight line that de-fines modern American life, he adopted his single wheel’s wayward rhythms.

Written with poise and humor, Slowspoke is more than a cross-country trip on a unicycle; it’s a meditation on a playful, recalcitrant slowness that is increasingly rare in a culture obsessed with acceleration. At times ach-ing and other times joyful, Schimmoeller intersperses recollections of his journey with vignettes of his present-day, off-the-grid homesteading with his wife in Kentucky and their efforts to save an old-growth forest.

Schimmoeller’s personal journey will resonate with anyone who has slowed down to experience life at a unicycle’s speed or who longs to do so, who has fallen in love or searched for it, or who has treasured tall trees or mourned their loss.

Slowspoke: A Unicyclist's Guide to America is also available as an audio book! Browse and download the book here >>

Available in: Paperback, eBook

Read More

Slowspoke

Mark Schimmoeller

Paperback $17.95

Dreaming of Lions

Dreaming of Lions

By Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas has spent a lifetime observing other creatures and other cultures, from her own backyard to the African savannah. Her books have transported millions of readers into the hidden lives of animals—from dogs and cats to deer and lions. She’s chronicled the daily lives of African tribes, and even imagined the lives of prehistoric humans.  She illuminates unknown worlds like no other. Now, she opens the doors to her own.
 
Dreaming of Lions traces Thomas’s life from her earliest days, including when, as a young woman in the 1950s, she and her family packed up and left for the Kalahari Desert to study the Ju/Wa Bushmen. The world’s understanding of African tribal cultures has never been the same since. Nor has Thomas, as the experience taught her not only how to observe, but also how to navigate in male-dominated fields like anthropology and animal science and do what she cared about most: spending time with animals and people in wild places, and relishing the people and animals around her at home.
 
Readers join Thomas as she returns to Africa, after college and marriage, with her two young children, ending up in the turmoil leading to Idi Amin’s bloody coup. She invites us into her family life, her writing, and her fascination with animals—from elephants in Namibia, to dogs in her kitchen, or cougars outside her New England farmhouse. She also recounts her personal struggles, writing about her own life with the same kind of fierce honesty that she applies to the world around her, and delivering a memoir that not only shares tremendous insights, but also provides tremendous inspiration.

Dreaming of Lions, originally published in hardcover as A Million Years With You, is slightly updated and includes a powerful new afterword by the author.

Available in: Paperback, eBook

Read More

Dreaming of Lions

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

Paperback $17.95