On a September day in 1971, Donald McCaig and his wife, Anne, arrived at their new home, an abandoned farm in the least populated county in eastern America. Over the next twenty years they learned - one challenging day at a time - how to raise sheep and grow enough food for themselves and their stock. The story of the McCaigs' farm, from the time it was first cultivated in the eighteenth century to the McCaigs' struggle to keep it productive today, is at the heart of An American Homeplace. Amplifying that personal account are the voices of farmers, storekeepers, horse breeders, mechanics, and other country people. McCaig writes wonderfully about his working dogs, the animals he raises, and the wild animals he encounters; the seasons of the farmer's year; the ways of rural society; the ageless challenges of agriculture; and the modern dangers of agribusiness. This is the history of the American family farm, an institution built on personal honesty, trust in one's neighbors, and optimism about the future. An American Homeplace is a wise and powerful report on a part of America that is struggling - often ingeniously - to survive.
Donald McCaig is a regular commentator on NPR's All Things Considered and the author of Nop's Trials, Eminent Dogs, Dangerous Men, and the forthcoming novel Jacob's Ladder. He and his wife, Anne, operate a sheep farm in the mountains of western Virginia.