Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tobacco Farming

Here are some pictures of tobacco when it is being cut. When I was a kid growing up we grew tobacco. It is work all year long. In the first picture is the tobacco and part of it is cut. Then from there they put it on the wagons and haul it to the barns where it is hung up. Some people have these top covered long sheds, well they aren't sheds as they run the whole length of the field, so they are long! In the one picture you can see it has no tobacco in it and then it does have tobacco hanging in it. With it having no sides maybe it cures better but then it is exposed more to the elements, so I'm not sure if that is better or not. It probably is since you see a lot of those nowadays. It sure would be easier to hang it in them rather than in a barn, like we always did. In the last pictures you see the tobacco hanging in the barn where it will cure and then be taken down and the leaves will be stripped off. We had a stripping room with a long bench along one side. Stripping is always done in the cold weather so we had a wood stove for heat. It is a stinky dusty job and the tobacco gum sticks to your hands until they are coated. We tied the leaves in hands and put them on sticks and they were then put in a press to mash them down and that is how they went to market. Now they just strip the leaves off and press up bales most of the time.

I never was involved in cutting the tobacco thankfully!! My Dad would hire a crew to help cut. My Mom and I would have to cook dinner for all them. She always had a feast. We had chickens and she would kill a couple and we fried them, and she usually had homemade biscuits, gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans and a couple more vegetable dishes, sliced onions, sliced tomatoes, and then cakes and pies to follow it all up with. Believe me, no one went back to work hungry and if they did it was their own fault! Then she and I had all the dish washing to clean up.

I recall when I was younger I always wanted to go to the barn when they were cutting the tobacco and hanging it, but my Dad wouldn't let me. I kept after him with, "Why Daddy, Why can't I come to the barn??" He told me that a little girl didn't need to be around a bunch of old men. Again I said, "Why Daddy?" He said, "Well Rachel, men are just a bunch of old brutes and a little girl does not need to be around them." At that time I wasn't sure what an old brute was but I figured it meant they passed gas or burped and didn't excuse themselves or maybe they cussed. At any rate I stayed away from the barn when the "old brutes" were there working!!


Anonymous happy and blue 2 said...

What an interesting post. I have always wondered how tobacco was farmed/ processed..

7:25 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

Great post!
My grandfather from KY had a tobacco farm. I loved reading about the meal you and your Mom prepared. My grandma would cook many of those same dishes!

9:17 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Hi Rachel -- That is a good lesson on tobacco farming. Let us hope Cliff reads it.
You had me really worried about your papa mule. There isn't any such thing. But then I read in your own comment that you did know better.

BTW, I'm back now. If you like roses, read Billy's last post about his Dad's.

9:54 PM  
Blogger FRIDAY'S CHILD said...

Those are lots and lots of tobacco leaves. Great photos too. Well taken.
Thanks for dropping by and Happy Halloween.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Rachel, I loved your drive pictures. I wish we could get to Tennessee this fall but can't. The leaves will be all blown away by Christmas time if we even make it then.

Oh yes, it's my son-in-law's (Billy) Dad that has the rose thing, over in Orange, Texas.
He is really good and has quite a few new varieties he created patented.

9:18 AM  
Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I love when you write about your childhood and the growing and harvesting of is fascinating to me given that "tobacco" played such an important part of my life for so very many years....the description of that gummy stuff on your hands...Oh Dear...and we all ingested that stuff...
I LOVE the meals you and your Momma made for everyone...the description made me hungry, Rachel! (lol)
And I love the pictures...thank you for sharing this very very interesting part of your childhood.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Britmum said...

That was a fab post Rachel. You are such an interesting person.

Take care xx

3:29 PM  
Blogger Abandoned in Pasadena said...

Rachel...Your post was very interesting and I think that is why Mama Bear is such a great cook because she was the one that stayed back with her mom to prepare those famous very large meals. That's one thing that I have always heard from tobacco workers was that they were fed VERY VERY GOOD.

Thanks for all the pictures of the tobacco process. It will soon be a thing of the past.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Ralph's Homespun Headlines said...

This is a great post. I am glad your father kept you away from the "old brutes"

10:01 AM  
Blogger PEA said...

I so enjoyed this post and it made me remember that my two oldest brothers, when they were teens, went to southern Ontario every summer to pick tobacco to make some money. I had never seen how it's made, though, so I found your pictures and description so very interesting! Thanks so much!! xox

12:00 PM  
Anonymous cassie-b said...

Thank you for the explanation and the pictures. Years ago, I had a neighbor whose family grew tobacco, and she described the process to me many times. The pictures make it so clear.

thanks for the memories!

4:20 PM  
Blogger Cliff Morrow said...

I'd say you had a pretty good understanding of 'man' even when you were young.

7:46 PM  
Blogger DayByDay4-2Day said...

That was a very intersting story. SO much different then my life as a kid. Thanks for sharing that memory with us.

6:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very sage advice to stay away from "old brutes" Rachel, a very interesting post, in Australia they used the open sided sheds too, but all tobacco farms seemed to have a large round "silo" as well, I've no idea what for though.

6:38 PM  
Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

When the tocacco is hanging like that, they remind me of some alien movie and those are the alien pods. They are like bats hanging upside down.
I'd want to avoid those old brutes too! Your dad was wise. Sometimes old brutes have soft hearts though. :)

6:29 AM  

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