Tobacco – Cutting

Tobacco CutI have new pictures from the morning of August 31 when they were starting to cut the field of tobacco that I have been doing a photo essay on for the last several weeks. It is nice that I actually got the hands doing the actual job, though I am not sure it truly shows enough. Again, a fond memory for me. I admit to having done a large amount of this kind of work as a teenager. Aside from putting in hay during the summer, actually cutting tobacco right before and even after school started was the best money-making time of my youth.

I admit that I was never super fast, cutting Continue reading “Tobacco – Cutting”

Tobacco: Revisited

Tobacco Topped, Barn in DistanceI liked the first ‘photo essay’ about tobacco so well, I have decided to follow through with an update with each major step in the tobacco process.  The change from exactly seven days is not much, as the only thing that has occurred is the blooms have been broken out in the lower 2/3 of the field.  This was actually done the day after I took the first photos and to help you blend locally, we would call that process topping.  Right after the tobacco was topped, it most likely sprayed with a chemical that retards new sprouts or buds from starting.  If not done, the tobacco would sucker out at the top leaf joints and spend all of its energy trying again to make seeds.  By application of the chemical spray the energy is instead spent on making the leaves that are present usually get larger, especially in width.  An effect of this application and the general turn toward the homestretch  is that bottom leaves Continue reading “Tobacco: Revisited”

Tobacco and Nostalgia

Pretty in Pink?I recall from a few years back reading a book, I think it was titled The Complete Agrarian Reader, matter of fact I have read certain parts of it a 2nd and 3rd time since then. Anyway, that is not the point – the introduction of that particular book was written by Barbara Kingsolver, of some amount of fame as an author. I have, strangely enough, not read anything else she has written – though I probably should. Anyway, in this introduction she speaks of being in college and having as fond memories the smells and sights of tobacco being harvested and being around the barns where it was curing with an unmistakable nostalgia – but yet a certain amount of shame over her own history and association with tobacco amongst her college friends.

I find a kindred spirit in what she has to say. Having grown up on a farm raising and working in tobacco, not to mention the countless hours that I spent working in tobacco for other farmers in the general area where I grew up. I find it funny that I spent 18 years Continue reading “Tobacco and Nostalgia”

MHF’s vs. ABC’s

Thought I would post a few memories from childhood that with hindsight just seem so funny. Hopefully I can remember the ones that I am thinking of when I started this though between now and when I get to the end.

First one is related to first grade – yes, where I attended school they did not have kindergarten as a regular part of the school system until at least three or four years after I started (which brings up that whole thing about the book – Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten and why I feel challenged I suppose). So, anyway, prior to starting first grade I knew my ABC’s and was well into learning to read thinks to Mom and wonderful activities. Amway, I recall we learned the letters from these green and black covered books that had characticures of the letters, maybe Alpha something? Anyway, since then I have learned that the letters were arranged in order based on what was supposed to be the easiest letters to recognize along with the sound they made. So we started with M, Munchie Mouth M to sure. Then the next letter I am pretty sure was Horrible Hair H and on from there to Funny Feet F. Along about this time, I complained to my Mom about how she had screwed me up by teaching me the ABC’s went A-B-C-D-E-F… instead of M-H-F… the way we were being taught they go.

Time Passes

That was written a few weeks, maybe even months ago. At the time, I had a couple of other places I was going to go with that in regards to things I found odd or thought one way and turned out it was another when I was much younger. In the meantime due to old age and forgetfulness I have lost the rest of the train that was on that thought.

Some of them were just simple things, like words and their meanings. Now that I think of it, ornery is one of those words. I think that misunderstanding of that word is perhaps a local thing though, as a lot of folks I know locally use it slightly incorrect. If not wide-spread locally, it certainly is true within my family and some of the folks I knew growing up. So, the exact usage growing up was more of a lazy good for nothing kind of meaning instead of the properly defined meaning of being mean and no good for no reason other than being that way. For instance, usage might have been applied when instead of cleaning out a stall, I instead sat under a shade tree and sipped a cold beverage. Someone would have asked my why I was being ornery?

Anyway – as I am on a mission to have a bunch of new posts this week and this one needs to go ahead and get out there – I am publishing. If I think of additional MHF’s vs ABC’s kind of moments, I can always make an additional posting later.

Childhood Memories

So I am still drinking stiff bourbon and coke (recall the last post – just enough to color them) and I am thinking of some good old memories. One that comes to mind is of me, my brother, bikes, and a couple of tobacco sticks.

No, for those not aware, a tobacco stick is what burley tobacco here in Kentucky is speared onto (the stalk and leaves) and hung in the barn for curing. The sticks are made of oak most typically, more modern ones being sawed and old ones were split (like a rail for a fence). They are usually getting close to one inch, roughly square, though the split ones were often a little thicker in one direction. Oh, and between three and four-foot long.

Another thing for those not aware, I do jousting and sword fighting on horses today, waxing nostalgic for time period well over 600 years ago. It is no wonder considering the how often me and my younger brother did sword fighting. Often with a tobacco stalk, which is not so bad, as they give. However, often time with a tobacco stick. In case you are wondering that is one heck of a smarting blow on the fingers.

When doing this kind of thing as an eight to ten-year old, there were a few rules. Don’t hit the hands, as that hurts like heck.

Take this one step forward. We didn’t have horses at the time, but we did have bikes and a long down hill slope so you didn’t have to work to hard. We were knights on iron steeds sword fighting over our heads over and over again. Imagine a fall day, with the smell of wood smoke in the eye, damp ground, leaves already on the ground, you can also smell the horses and hear the ping of metal on metal.

What ends up happening is at some point my brother hit my fingers, hard. In anger I retaliated, by yelling, “I will get you – I will slay your horse.” And with that I stabbed the front, em, er, legs(?) of his mount.

Immediately I learned a lot of physics regarding what happens when you stop a wheel in motion by jabbing something into and how a bicycle seat suddenly resembles a catapult as my brother flew through the air like a boulder to land with a horrible sounding thud flat on his back a number of feet in front of the mount I had caught up on the end of my sword.

Thankfully my brother was only winded. The funny thing was my freaking immediately after him landing. I was at his side saying, “You gotta get up and be okay – Mom will kill us both if you are hurt – come on, get up.”