Born in 1946, Paul Gilk grew up on a small homestead farm in northern Wisconsin. From work horses, threshing crews and silo-filling rings, huge gardens, quilting bees and one-room schools, township demographics changed in twenty-five years from thirty farms to three. Returning to northern Wisconsin from St. Louis in 1979, Gilk built a cottage in the woods of what had been part of the family farm. Several years of intensive study followed. The question that preoccupied him was Why are small farms dying? In the early 1990s, he reconstructed a nineteenth-century log house and, in 1995, married Suzanna Juon. He has made a living by farm work, woods work, carpentry, writing, and folk music.