Chalk it up to a failure to pay attention. Checking to see why one of my favorite writers, Gene Logsdon, had not posted in a while, it turns out he had passed away almost 2 months previously at eh end of May. My oversight is embarrassing (but shows how much I pay attention to these things); the loss is saddening.
Gene Logsdon (1931-2016) was a farmer and author. He wrote practical sorts of how-to books, books of theory and practice, and stories. He was a man that practiced what he preached: working in the city, he and his wife made an effort to move back to the country (to the land he had grown up on) where he practiced the theories he talked about.
If I could characterize him (which will be a sad attempt on my part) he was a man that saw the problems of modern agriculture and modern society while actually advocating and practicing a separate course (instead of just complaining about them). He arguably felt that there was plenty of blame to go around and never particularly choose sides (a political and social course I can appreciate greatly). He wrote of taking joys in the small things of life: streams, a butterfly, birds across the field, a baseball game.
He was a prolific writer. Below are a listing of books he wrote (asterisked if I own them):
The Contrary Farmer*
Homesteading: How to find Independence on the Land*
Living at Nature's Pace: Farming and the American Dream*
Holy S***: Managing Manure to Save Mankind*
Small Scale Grain Raising: An Organic Guide to Growing, Processing, and Using Nutritious Whole Grains for Home Gardeners and Local Farmers*
All Flesh is Grass: The Pleasures and Promise of Pasture Farming*
A Sanctuary of Trees: Beechnuts, Birdsongs, Baseball Bats and Benedictions
Gene Logsdon's Practical Skills: A Revival of Forgotten Crafts, Techniques and Traditions
Organic Orcharding: A Grove of Trees to Live In
Gardener's Guide to Better Soil*
You Can Go Home Again: Adventures of a Contrary Life*
Successful Berry Growing: How To Plant, Prune, Pick, and Preserve Bush and Vine Fruits
Good Spirits: A New Look at Ol' Demon Alcohol*
The Last of the Husbandman: A Novel of Farming Life*
Two Acre Eden
Pope Mary and The Church of Almighty Good Food
Getting Food From Water: A Guide to Backyard Aquaculture
The Contrary Gardener's Invitation to Gardening
Gene Logsdon's Moneysaving Secrets: A Treasury of Salvaging, Bargaining, Recycling, and Scavenging Techniques
The Pond Lovers
Gene Logsdon's Wildlife in Your Garden: Or Dealing with Deer, Rabbits, Raccoons, Crows, Moles, Sparrows and other of Nature's Creatures
Wyeth People: A Portrait of Andrew Wyeth as Seen by his Friends and Neighbors
The Low Maintenance House
The Lords of Folly: A Novel
The Mother of All Arts: Agrarianism and the Creative Impulse
The Big Things in Life Are The Big Things
The Man Who Created Paradise: A Fable*
Gene Everlasting: A Contrary Farmer's Thoughts On Living Forever
(This does not account for the books he co-authored and the articles and items wrote prior to his publishing. Look at some early Rodale Press books for some pleasant surprises).
I first read him in July of 2000 as we were flying to Europe (The Contrary Farmer remains one of my favorite books). I was captivated not only by a man who was leaving the kind of life I imagined but by his writing style: plain and down to earth yet lifting engaging and thought provoking. Indirectly this blog is an output of that book: I wanted to write with passion and relevance and of important matters like Gene did.
It makes me sad, not only for his family and friends (how could one fill that sort of void based on the man) but for ourselves. His is precisely the sort of fact based questioning practical sort of conversation we need precisely right now - solutions based, not wedded to a philosophy or ideology but ultimately what was good for people, the environment, and food.
His Wikipedia entry states he was "...an American man of letters, cultural and economic critic, and farmer. He was a prolific author of essays, novels, and nonfiction books about agrarian issues, ideals and techniques."
He will be sorely missed.