David, could you please introduce yourself to the class?
I’m a writer, historian, educator, amateur woodworker, avid cook and perpetually intrigued baker, assistant gardener, erstwhile physicist, sometime duck rancher, canine valet, world champion tiddlywinks player, former United States ambassador to Saskatchewan, and international elbow model. I live with my wife, daughter, and a vast collection of cookbooks in Durham, North Carolina.
Is that true?
Pretty all true.
Are you sure, David?
To the best of my recollection.
OK, let’s start over. I have a B.S. in physics and a Ph.D. in history, which many people see as an odd combination. For several years I was Editorial & Web Director for LEARN NC, developing and publishing resources for K–12 teachers and students. There I developed a “digital textbook” of North Carolina history. Before that I wrote a book called Garden Spot: Lancaster County, the Old Order Amish, and the Selling of Rural America, which was published by Oxford University Press in 2002. You can find more of my writing on history and historical education linked here under “historical articles and exhibits” and teaching.
I’ve done a lot of writing about sustainable and small-scale agriculture, some of which is on this site but most of which is over at The New Agrarian. Most notably, the resources I’ve developed on raising backyard ducks have drawn more readers than I would ever have dreamed possible. I continue to write essays for the New Agrarian on craft, community, land, and place.
There’s also a bit of fiction here, the detritus of a few aborted sporadic projects. Someday I may finish a novel. Pigs may fly; my dogs may voluntarily give up their space on the couch. It could happen.
I write really awful poetry, usually on purpose.
I am married and we have a daughter, two basset hounds, and three cats. One of my cats is named Mao, which is Chinese for cat. Chinese people think this is really stupid. I still have
five four three Khaki Campbell ducks who have given up laying eggs for us and now merely squawk irritably at me when I am late with dinner. It’s time to get some chickens. One of these days I will get bees.
On occasional weekends I do living history at Duke Homestead State Historic Site in Durham, where I demonstrate traditional methods of woodworking. I’ve furnished a decent portion of our house and redone the finish carpentry in the living room. I bake bread, run along the Eno River, and feed the birds. I have a weakness for expensive bourbon, but if I could trade in my Mazda on a horsecart, I probably would, especially if I’d been into the bourbon.
You can take your seat now, David.