Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tobacco

Even just five years ago, one of the prime crops here in Kentucky was burley tobacco. Big fields full of broad leaves - small in the spring, as tall as me as the summer wears on, and turning yellow as it becomes ready to cut.

Now, as times have changed (in 25 words or less), tobacco fields are fewer and farther between. Here is a pretty field just up the road with, coincidentally, a tobacco leaf pattern painted barn quilt hanging on their modern metal tobacco barn.



Our big black wooden barn was originally a tobacco barn - a older style common and fairly unique to this area of the country. These older tobacco barns are vented by long doors that open to the side or, as ours does, propped out from the bottom. My favorite tobacco barns are painted red with white vent doors.

In addition, most barns have an attached room off to one side. This is known as the stripping room, where the leaves, after they've cured out, are stripped from the stalks and baled to go to market. When City Boy came down to visit us the first time, we had several friends and neighbors over. At some point during the evening, the subject turned to hanging winning card game scores on the walls of the stripping room. We didn't think a thing about it until the next morning when City Boy announced that he really liked our friends, you know, the strippers (said in a hushed voice).

There is an entire culture based around growing tobacco, with it's own vocabulary and encyclopedia of knowledge. Our "stripping friends" can climb like monkeys all the way to the top of our very tall barn - a talent acquired growing up working tobacco. I always "set" a few plants somewhere in our yard and think it's a beautiful plant.



A real tobacco farmer would "top" the pink flower heads to encourage thicker leaf growth.

2 comments:

barb :0) said...

I also live in Kentucky and I photograph tobacco whenever I see it growing ......... I am afraid it won't be growing here much longer. We raised it several years on our farm ........ such hard work !!!!! I miss seeing it growing.

barb :0) said...

I also live in Kentucky and I photograph tobacco whenever I see it growing ......... I am afraid it won't be growing here much longer. We raised it several years on our farm ........ such hard work !!!!! I miss seeing it growing.

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