The other morning, Sunday before Labor Day, I think, I was in awake rather early and heard the delightful chirp of a cricket. Actually at first I was not quite sure what I was hearing, but as I sought out the sound and got closer it dawned on my sleeping awareness that it was indeed a cricket. Really not anything to get excited about, except that I have always associated the chirp of crickets with the onset of fall – which is my favorite time of year.
Everyone knows that the religious group known as the Pilgrims that settled the area known as Plymouth were the first permanent settlement right? We all know that such puritans would not ever dream of starting a fight with Native Americans right? And just what was that motivated so many English and other European Nationals to take the risky two month sea voyage to the colonies? Especially considering that early colonists had an average survival rate well below twenty-five percent. Tobacco was something that the Native Americans taught the settlers how to raise, correct? Here are a few facts of the matter that are often confused, some of it through what we are taught in grade school and other of it just perpetual mis-information that is handed down over and over, despite being largely in correct.
I started this several days back and for whatever reason I did not get it finished. I did make a few notes about the rest of my random thoughts and thought I would put those here quickly and go with it. Those of who read here on a regular basis know that I am not too much on putting together random thoughts, but some of these just seemed to be begging to get out now without becoming a full enough thought for a blog entry. Besides, I have over fifty drafts here in WordPress and several more between my note card book and a file stored on my desktop (keep coming back the rest of this month, but really be looking for November in regards to those posts by the way). And of course, my favorite, a list is so appropriate for this kind of thought process.
I 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”
I 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.Ã‚Â 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.Ã‚Â This was actually done the day after I took the first photos and to help you blend locally, we would call that process topping.Ã‚Â Right after the tobacco was topped, it most likely sprayed with a chemical that retards new sprouts or buds from starting.Ã‚Â If not done, the tobacco would sucker out at the top leaf joints and spend all of its energy trying again to make seeds.Ã‚Â By application of the chemical spray the energy is instead spent on making the leaves that are present usually get larger, especially in width.Ã‚Â An effect of this application and the general turn toward the homestretchÃ‚Â is that bottom leaves Continue reading “Tobacco: Revisited”
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”
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.”
So I am currently re-reading parts of the book entitled The Complete Agrarian Reader, a collection of essays by agrarians and their opinions on things. Probably the book that first introduced me to the idea. Actually, I should say, that made me realize it was not necessarily a some romantic notion that I alone had, that there were other people with similar thoughts on things.
Anyway, there is an introduction to the book by Barbara Kingsolver. In it she talks about her days in college and in the world at large where she in as many words hesitant or even almost ashamed of her background of having grown up on a Kentucky tobacco farm. Both the tobacco and the farm were considered less than desirable things to bring up in her circles of associations in a positive light so instead she stayed quiet. I have been there with her. I knew exactly what she was talking about. I would never deny, but there were times when I tried to distance myself from my own personal history.