What we are made of When summer really arrived Horse project 4-H members head to Ohio State Fair Defender hosts annual Cornhole Tournament George’s Brave Shave’ benefits other Year of planning, work pays off for 2017 fair Local teen opens new business Why can’t you stop? Camp first step in preparation for 2018 Greyhounds on the gridiron Young awarded SEDAB Scholarship Fair hosts Hall of Fame broadcaster Peebles goes back-to-back at the Barnyard The sport of goats Massive storms rumble through Ohio Valley James W Morgan Tiffany R Edwards Marshall W Groves Fairgoers wanna iguana! SSCC moving forward with plans for Adams County campus Mary Wallingford Leslie V Lawrence Jr Fair hosts Cheerleading Competition Peebles FFA installs 2017-18 Officers Adams County Fair Baby Contest Seniors Citizens and Armed Forces Day at the fair Cheers! It’s mocktail time! North Adams Beta Club attends National Convention at Disney ‘You won’t believe the chaos it rains around you’ McCarty’s receive 4-H Alumni award McKayla Raines crowned 2017 Junior Fair Queen Eastern knocks off Peebles 10-5 to capture 14 U baseball tourney Just listen for the answer Time to teach a little History Fair hosts Little Miss and Mister, Toddler shows Jason E Palmer Dorothy Stephenson Shane G Varney The weekend I joined the Army David Stutz Patty Davis Battle results in new chief at the Division of Wildlife Join in with ‘Adams County Rocks’ After 500-mile journey, pigeon ‘drops’ in for a visit Nine-run third inning leads Peebles to upset win in SHYL 12U baseball tournament finals Willie L White David A Presley Connie Greene Carolyn Belczyk retiring from OSU Extension Young’s reign as Fair Queen ends, new journey begins Robert L Boone Esther C Malone Independence Day parade puts patriotism on display Being an addict’s mom: a sad and scary place to be White House newest addition to People’s Defender mailing list Young leaving Manchester to become Ripley Principal Leadoff homer holds up, Manchester takes 10U softball tourney 1-0 over North Adams North Adams tops Manchester in 12U semis Monday Night League concludes with SHAC showdown How we see ourselves In the good ole’ summertime Ronnie L Roush Elizabeth A Gifford Tom White Ivan H Copas Kathleen Lewis Paul Minton Jessica A Edmisten Workhouse helps free up jail space Penguin ‘chills’ with kids in library visit ‘Heroin has taken me to my darkest places’ The beauty of the giant combine West Union gets past North Adams 5-2 in 10U baseball tourney play Eastern Brown hosts annual Girls Soccer Shootout “It’s been a real community effort” Summer ball winds down for local squads Submit your Knothole team photos! Gokey, Morgan, Young to perform at 2017 Festival of the Bells Just looking around the room When in the course of human events When your dreams seem out of reach Ricky A Smith Ricky A Smith Dean McClellan Ruby O Shell Peggy R Atkinson Caroline E Fulton Marcia R Baldwin Juanita N Lewis Mary K Hilterbran Jack D Reed ‘I had no gumption except to get high’ Long-lost siblings meet for the first time after nearly six decades apart Freedom Festival to honor the American Flag ‘Music and Memory’ at Adams County Manor renews lives lost to dementia Adams County Sheriff’s Deputy takes gold at 2017 Ohio Police and Fire Games Toole awarded Winchester Alumni Scholarship Lady Devils host Summer Varsity Shootout In 14U, Peebles finishes regular season with blowout win Der professionelle Basketball-Traum Local pair attend Wabash College Wrestling Camp

The cash crop of an era

Our family farm was located approximately three miles north of Moscow on gently rolling to hilly farm land. Land that was good for pasturing cattle, raising hay and corn but first and foremost the land was great for raising tobacco, the cash crop of the farmers of the area from Clermont but more in Brown and Adams County and all over Kentucky and Tennessee. When I was growing up in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, White Burley tobacco was the mainstay of each and every farm family. Our family was one who raised about 12 acres or 25 to 30 thousand pounds. The only way I can tell how this crop was raised was in the true facts for each farmer and that was it took over a year to raise a crop from start to finish and this took literally thousands of hard labor hours. There was not one easy aspect to growing tobacco but when the crop sold the farmer felt a secure feeling for another year.

This time of year brings back to mind the housing season. This was when the crop was cut, speared onto a stick, and hung on a rail in a barn to air cure. This procedure was repeated from mid-August until the end of September or even later. Housing tobacco called on the need for several hands to harvest this green plant and place it safely into a barn where the leaves would dry and become a dark red to a light buff color before moving it onto the next step in bringing the crop to an end.

I was cleaning out my very much needed garage a few weeks ago and found the tobacco knife that I had used for more than three decades. I couldn’t find the spear that one had to have to complete the process of cutting tobacco. To see that tobacco knife brought back the many memories of the mountains of hours of taking a step, bending ,chopping a stalk, rising up and putting the stalk on a stick with the use of the spear. Doing this on hot afternoons, stalk after stalk, hour after hour, and day after day was very hard manual labor that that needed a degree of skill.

This brought back the memory that I wasn’t alone as I worked alongside other men repeating the exact procedures as myself. As you were doing this procedure you felt you body ache and felt the sweat run into your eyes, but this was only the first part of housing tobacco.

After the tobacco lay in the sun for at least an afternoon and became wilted enough, the filled sticks were loaded onto a wagon and hauled to a barn where a crew would climb into the barn to straddle the rails to receive the sticks passed up to them. Once the men were positioned and ready to hang the tobacco aperson on the wagon began the process of taking the sticks off the wagon and passing them up into the barn one stick at a time until that stick would reach its destination. Although there wasn’t the hot sun beating down on you, the hours of standing straddle on the tier rails as the barn became hotter from the heat of the tobacco and the sun beating down on the metal rooves wasn’t pleasant. This too went on stick after stick , rail after rail, for hour after hour.

I must admit the way I have described housing tobacco doesn’t sound very romantic or even give cause for a good memory but there was something about how men working hard for the same reason and the visible results of thousands of sticks of tobacco revealing the results of your labors was satisfying to me. During my years of working in tobacco as a grower and working for other growers I enjoyed housing tobacco. I by far am not in the minority of those who enjoyed working in it. I guess seeing the result of your labors brought satisfaction to me.

Today a person can travel the entire tobacco growing area and probably not see any of this going on. They won’t see the patches of tobacco or the barns with the burley hanging in it as the crop has become almost a thing of the past. Tobacco has become a word that symbolizes an era past. Yes, there are a few large fields still being grown but farming today is done with less farm hands and less manual labor. Things are much more automated and that leaves tobacco on the sidelines.

For me in my years of farming, it was a crop that farmers put forth with pride and effort. Crazy as this sounds tobacco in the barn or even the patch has a distinct aroma to it. It is not a smell one wants to be around permanently but it was a smell that I enjoyed inhaling as I knew I was housing tobacco.

Times have changed and as always not for the worst, just changed, and we have to except the change or be left behind. I look at my tobacco knife and let it bring back those days gone by and am a little sad but to be honest that was then and this is now. I am without regret that I no longer see this procedure. One thing a cousin told me is that George Clooney cut tobacco and he said “we have something in common and am pretty sure it will be the only thing.” There are a lot of us that have that common bond forever.

Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and likes to share stories about his youth and other topics. He may be reached at houser734@yahoo.com.

http://www.peoplesdefender.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/web1_RickHouser.jpg

Rick Houser

The Good Old Days

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© The People's Defender - All rights reserved