This is not simply a work of nostalgia,"" writes the author of this firm, unsentimental and scrupulous accounting of the way it was growing up on the family farm in Michigan -- a lively personal assessment of loss, gain and the mechanics of change. Stadtfeld remembers the closed, isolated society with its land-based familial-communal web of obligations and interdependencies. He details the work cycles, the arduous care and profound respect for one's crops, animals and equipment, and the neighborly gatherings for necessary mutual aid -- threshing and butchering for example. He compares his ""working"" childhood as a ""common mission that made life so whole"" with his urbanized son's meaningless chores. But life was harsh and difficult -- and, with lack of adequate medical care, very risky. Stadtfeld writes entertainingly of his school days, woods and fields, his animals and then reports on the death of this agrarian life as he saw it. After World War II new machinery brought its own cycle of faster production leading to consolidation ""slowly devouring the little farms."" Stadtfeld includes some eye-opening statistics on wholesale farm prices (lower than in 1950-54) to underline the problem of those refusing to be driven out by agrobusiness corporations. For those like Stadtfeld who have left, there's no turning back, but ""always our heads turn when we see a tractor in the fields. . . ."" For the urbanite, some inklings as to what still heats the Grange Halls, and for farm people, sound, empathic tall from one who knows his oats.