Sunday, September 18, 2011

tobacco as art, part 2

post #53
     Well, let's get smokin', 'tis the season to cut tobacco and "house" it in a barn!  I am sharing some additional photos today of this crop which was formerly grown by many small farmers where I live in northeastern Kentucky and is now grown only by a few.  I will try to put this week's set in more or less chronological order.  

truck bed with flats holding plants now big enough to be put in the ground (see last week's post for a photo of tobacco being planted)
newly planted tobacco in Donnie's field, a photo whose title is "earthbound book"
This tobacco is overdue to be "topped" and de-suckered....sticky, hot, hard work, with bees for company
I don't usually see tobacco blooms this far along, and, not having to work it, I thought it lovely.
The yellowing means the tobacco is getting ready to be cut and housed, usually in late August or September.
The earthbound book field, in September, with some of the rows cut, the plants left a day or two in the field to dry out a bit before all that lifting to come
Trailers bring the cut and speared tobacco plants to the barn.  The tobacco sticks (see some unused ones lower right) are used as spears, thanks to the cutting cone that gets moved from stick to stick.  Five to six plants each are on a stick, which is later placed on the trailer to be taken to the tobacco barn for hanging.
unloading the trailer and hanging the sticks holding the plants
hanging to cure  (barn built in 1960?)
 The plants hang like possums for a couple of months, depending on the weather, and then the leaves are stripped off the stalks. 

a favorite photo of mine, see my post #7 -- Sandy, Junie and Dorsie stripping their last ever crop of tobacco, two years ago
Donnie spreading the stripped stalks back onto the fields, before winter snows, with his daughters keeping him good company

    My explanations here are very basic.  I hope my neighbors don't laugh at me.  But the amount of labor required is hard to understand without some explanations of the yearlong process. I will appreciate hearing about any confusions, errors or needed clarifications, which I will then use to make this a better post!  
     As always, thanks for your interest in this blog  -- I hope you found some art among the stalks and the seasons.  Too bad the end product of all the work is not as fascinating. 

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