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

Gene Everlasting

A Contrary Farmer's Thoughts on Living Forever

Availability: In Stock

Paperback

Available Date:
February 09, 2017

$17.95

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.

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The Contrary Farmer

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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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.

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Letter to a Young Farmer

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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.

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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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AUTHOR VIDEOS

Gene Logsdon's Holy Shit

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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.

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