One thing to remember this President’s Day Adams County Deer Harvest down over 21% MLSD amends five-year budget, prepares for future with power plant closings Lady Dragons triumph in sectional opener Lady Hounds eighth graders capture SHAC Tournament title Gary L Fetters Sr Boys Sectional brackets released ‘We’re only as good as the way we treat others’ Another round of smiles Adams County Board of DD members recognized Terry L Unger 8th Grade Lady Devils ousted in tourney semis WU’s McCarty signs with Ohio Christian Joyce A Huddleson Carolyn Spires BREAKING NEWS: Peebles police search for man accused of selling marijuana-laced sweets Decision Time BBN Senior Profile: Summer Grundy Lady Devils fall to Southeastern, 56-48 Devils outlast Manchester 47-44 in double overtime Peebles holds second Hall of Fame Ceremony Senior Profile: Patrick England Sowards hits 1,000, ties PHS three-point mark County agencies prepare for sweeping budget cuts Manchester Council votes to cut police chief’s hours Wrestling debuts in Adams County Peebles Library hosts book signing As plants power down, community must step up Raymond P Dryden Alva Palmer Billie L Shoemaker Judith Long Brent A Arn Girls basketball sectional pairings announced WU’s Weeks will continue gridiron career at next level West Union JH Boys drop pair at Ripley Eighth Grade Lady Hounds roll into SHAC semi-finals Janet A Kennedy DP&L moving ahead with plans to close power plants Outreach Center in Peebles is a hub of giving River Sweep contest winners announced Gordley hits 1,000 mark, but Indians drop crucial SHAC contest to Lynchburg Manchester lifters compete at Piketon Senior Profile: Madelyn Sanders Charles L Hurd Randy Casto Bobby Strunk Dorothy J Scott Chester A Lanter Coach David Smalley picks up 500th career win at Rio Grande Dustin Holbrook Senior Profile: Camron Gordley As usual, optimism abounds on 2017 Reds Caravan Breeze, Beasley newest members of NAHS Athletic HOF Two humble men Adams County Manor Home Health Care makes road to recovery easier Don and Venita Bowles named as Outstanding Fair Supporters ‘Tip off For Tammy’ is a huge success, joint effort by two schools Husted campaign makes stop in Peebles Benefit held for double-lung transplant recipient I loved that muddy water, building in the creek Margaret E Broughton Larry A Hanson DP&L press release confirms closing of power plants Eighth grade girls showdown lives up to hype, North Adams wins in overtime, 45-43 Senior Profile: Raeanna Stamm North Adams Football sign-ups coming soon North Adams JV girls go 11-4 with win over Peebles Harper wins MaxPreps/JJHuddle Athlete of the Week West Union duo headed to the college gridiron Lady Devils make it 11 straight with win at Peebles Adams County residents attend Trump Inauguration A Look back at our Archives Peebles native comes home to film documentary Ohio Valley Wrestling Cub hosting home match on Jan. 31 Ruth A Branscome Velma Hughes Carol L Lewis Betty L Greiner Devils top New Boston 63-53 in finale of Coach Young Classic Lady Devils rout Eastern Pike in Young Classic Indians bounce back with 67-59 win over East OHSAA Baseball Pitch Count Regulation approved for 2017 At the buzzer, Rothwell gives Dragons an overtime win Greyhounds fall to Portsmouth Lady Indians roll past West Union 80-29 From Division II to the Senior Bowl COSI On Wheels visits West Union Elementary News from the Peebles PTO NAJH Basketball hosting ‘Play For The Cure’ Jan. 28 North Adams Elementary recognizes Students and Staff Members of the Month for December Honoring a coaching legend Benefit will assist double-lung transplant patient Peebles to be featured in new documentary Cleaning the stables-the worst job on the farm Wenstrup reselected to serve on House Intelligence Committee Venture Hawks and Sheriff’s Department square off on Feb. 12 Cecil R Dupree Harper wins MaxPreps/JJHuddle Athlete of the Week Star Wars costume exhibition coming to Museum Center

The tobacco setter’s “Wheel of Fortune”

web1_RickHouser.jpgBy Rick Houser –

I have written repeatedly that we raised a lot of tobacco on our farm, just like most all of the farmers around us did. When the growing season moved into late May and early June, the plants that had been growing in our tobacco beds had reached the transplant size and now it was time to transplant them into the tobacco patches or fields. I have also written before I really hated weeding a tobacco bed and looked for any way out as it was back breaking work.

There were only two steps up from the tobacco bed and that was driving the tractor that carried the tobacco setter (that job was Dad’s and his only) and the other being one of the two to ride the setter and as they called it “drop the plants” into the setter. For years this position was dominated by my sister Peg and brother Ben. Not only were they good at the job, but they were one of the fastest pairs in the neighborhood.

I waited my turn as I knew one day Peg would be moving away. I knew because at the end of every day that she rode the setter, she said how badly she hated the job and was going to get away from it one of these days. I couldn’t see at first why she would want to leave all this but then I saw that she must have been hinting to me. The day finally came and Peg moved and there was a need for someone to ride the setter and they needed it to be a left hander. Not only could I set and I wanted to learn to be fast but I was left handed! Oh Joy!

My days of pulling plants were about to decline as long as I could deliver on the setter’s job and I did. In case you are not familiar with a Trans planter or as we called it, a tobacco setter, I will try to explain. Ours fastened on to the back of our small Ford tractor and was raised and lowered by hydraulics. A 50-gallon water barrel was fastened onto the front of the tractor and the part where the two setters rode was on the back.

Between the two people was a wheel apparatus with a drive chain fastened between the centers of the wheel. On this wheels chain were fingers with rubber tips that were spaced 18 inches apart. As the tractor moved so did the wheel and the chain. As the fingers moved between the two on a downward direction the two riders alternated inserting plants into the fingers and holding them until they closed and finished by depositing the plants into the ground while the wheel packed dirt around the plants. The water barrel would eject a squirt of water on the roots of each plant to give it a good start.

The two who dropped the plants had a box-like holder in front of them where plants waited to ride the wheel. The setter was a very labor saving device but it had a few flaws. The riders sat on metal seats with no backs. The rides were seldom smooth and if you didn’t or couldn’t handle the sun beating down on you from mid-morning to sunset, this might not be the job for you.

Outside of conversation between you and your partner there was the constant and continual drone of the tractor’s engine. Seldom if ever did it change in sound. What I remember most though was when the setter gave the plant its shot of water. “Ka-Plunk” is the best way I can describe that sound, every 18 inches “Ka-Plunk.” From beginning until the end of day “Ka-Plunk! Each acre holds approximately 8200 plants and we raised 12 acres. To a tobacco farmer this might be in comparison to the Chinese water torture. Between the two monotonous sounds of the tractor and the water shot, a person could go crazy. This is where the conversations between the two riders became important. Talking broke the monotony and saved the day. As for the driver, they either didn’t talk, which was doubtful, or joined in with the conversation going on behind them.

Along with the sounds and the sun and the heat, there were the plants themselves. Plants were raised in seed beds and these beds for the most part were made by burning them with lots of wood. Therefore, when the plants were pulled they almost always had a lot of root base and it was mostly made with ash from the hot fires. This meant that the plants could be pulled easily but as the person on the setter worked with the plants, the dirt and ash would come off and land on the rider. Add that to all the sweat and water from the water barrel and the sun continuing to bake it into your sunburned skin and by the end of a day the character Pig Pen from Peanuts looked squeaky clean. At day’s end we all ran to be first for a shower. By the way, with all the sun, the shower could be a bit painful as the wash cloth rubbed against your burnt skin.

So as you can see, was it any wonder why I begged for the setter’s job and thankfully my sister was kind enough to step down and let me have the job. Sometimes we just have to wonder how lucky can we be.

There is one last thing, though. With all the hot conditions, we would get very thirsty and when we did stop for more plants or fill the barrel, we didn’t care who had drank out of the water jug or how long the water had sat ithe sunn , we just gladly grabbed that jug and rinsed and drank. Believe it or not that was one of the highlights of the day. Just one more reward for being a very good left handed rider on a tobacco setter.

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

One comment:

  1. Hey Rick-Really enjoy reading your columns -I helped my father in law plant tobacco and it was a total family affair-I really found out how my wife became such a hard worker as she grew up on the farm-A lot of kids will never experience Tobacco Planting and harvesting -Stripping and separating into hands placing on poles and hanging in the Barn-They are missing out on a great experience -I will be up to see you soon-In the meantime I will be watching for the next story!

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