Four charged in overdose death Underage felonies strain county system Fayetteville looks forward to 2018 celebration Russellville council discusses underground tanks in village Marilyn A Wren Larry E Carter Virginia L McQuitty Practices get underway for fall sports Jays soon to begin quest for SHAC title Western Brown to hold Meet the Teams Night and OHSAA parent meeting Aug. 8 Norville F Hardyman Carol J Tracy James Witt Hundreds of Narcan doses used in 2016 Heavy weekend rain causes flooding and damaged roads Child Focus hosts Chamber of Commerce meeting Mary F McElroy Broncos out to defend SBAAC American Division soccer title Bronco 5K to take place Aug. 5 EHS volleyball team ready for new season Michael C Cooper Raymond Mays Harry E Smittle Jr Mary A Flaugher Western Brown’s Leto excels in Australia Rockets ready for 1st season in SBAAC Paddling, hiking activities available at Ohio State Parks SB Warriors get set to hit gridiron for 2nd year of varsity football Scotty W Johnson Glenna V Moertle Ricky L Hoffer Ruth E Ward David A Watson Janet L Dotson Vilvie S King Steven C Utter Cropper joins Fallis at Bethel-Tate Local kids find success in world of martial arts 13th annual Bronco 5K Run and Fitness Walk set for Aug. 5 Teams compete in memory of Randy Fulton Mike W Smith Roger Helton David A Borders Timothy E Argenbright Joseph W Sherrill Frances K Pedigo Cecil N Graham Sawyers charged in sex for heroin plot Group demands changes at ELSD Blanche Malblanc Pauline L Kirk Over 70 take part in 11th Joe Myers 5K Classic Lions Club 4th of July Festival brings outdoor fun to Ripley ODNR reminds visitors to swim safe this summer Changes in high school track and field/cross country rules include school issued and approved uniforms Betty L Philpott Judy B Williams Billie J Russell Remembering Ravye 25 attend volleyball camp in Fayetteville Western Brown hosts Pee Wee Football Camp Eugene L Baumann Kids enjoy a ‘Touch-a-Truck’ event in Mt. Orab New police chief takes over in Fayetteville BC Chamber moving forward on 2017 SummerFest Two killed in wrong way crash in Mt. Orab Jack Hamilton Charles L Glover Maxine M Stires Western Brown youth basketball camps a success Leto to represent Team USA in Australia Broncos hard at work in preparation for fall season Eastern approves bowling team Phyllis Ruth Lois A Manley Eddie L Carr Thomas L Carnahan Cameron Barkley Walter J McGee Gary J Graham George D Johnson Walter F Crawford Jr Charles E Meranda Jr Corbin testifies before Ohio Senate Five arrested in Hamersville drug bust Neil Diamond tribute band coming Hyde finds home at Midway Youngsters work to improve on hoop skills at Eastern basketball camps Sizer named All-District Honorable Mention Western Brown’s Barnes earns All-State, All-District honors Local players compete in SWOFCA Ron Woyan East/West All-Star Game 6th annual Ravye Williams Memorial 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament set for June 24 Clarence E Teal Rosie B Poe Monard C Boots James P Conrad James T Dinser Scott J Swearingen Eastern’s Farris earns award for top 2-point field percentage in Ohio Georgetown’s Seigla earns All-District honors

How about some inside farming?

Growing up in Southern Ohio, few folks who farmed didn’t know that this was the time of year when most of the work was done inside.

For approximately three months each year, farmers work inside away from the cold winter weather, but are still working in conditions that were far from ideal. Southern Ohio is burley growing country and when a year edges closer to its end, it’s also tobacco stripping time. This is the final push to deliver your crops to the warehouse to sell and at long last cash in on a hard year of back-breaking labor.

Tobacco starts in a seed bed and as the plants reach their size they are transplanted to a field where a tobacco stalk will hopefully grow tall and develop large, heavy leaves.

At this point the stalk is cut and placed in what is appropriately called a tobacco barn. where the stalks hang so the air will circulate around, allowing the leaves to dry out, or as farmers say “cure out.”

When the climate is humid enough to allow the leaves to be pliable enough to be handled, then the final process takes place. At least the final process as it used to be took place. I’m pretty sure the process has changed drastically since the time when our family raised tobacco for a living.

I was involved in raising tobacco in the 1950’s and 1960’s in a time period that I like to call the “golden era of burley farming” in this area.

Today, a farmer has a good idea of what he will be paid before he invests in raising any crop. That wasn’t the case when I farmed. The farmer wasn’t certain as to what he would get for his crop until the auctioneer yelled “Sold!” Farmers took every precaution and tried their hardest to strip their tobacco, grade it by color and texture, and make certain the leaves were as uniform and presentable as possibly could be done.

Once the tobacco is removed from the barns, it is moved to a building on the farm solely set up for the purpose of stripping tobacco and prepping it before it went to the warehouse to be sold. This sounds easy enough, but this is where easy stopped and long, tiring monotonous days of pulling leaves from stalks over and over again began.

Most stripping rooms were heated with either a wood burning or coal burning stove so there was the comfort of the heat, but that was right about where the comfort ended. Tobacco plants contain much more dust than would ever be expected and therefore the room would get very dusty and was rough on the sinuses and throat, causing what seemed like continual laryngitis.

To reduce the dust, the room would routinely be sprayed with water and this meant that you stood in wet shoes most of the day. As the leaves are removed, the stalks would be tied up in a bundle and taken outside and staked to go to the field.

Also, as the tobacco was processed, more would be brought in and the processed tobacco was moved to another building to wait for the last trip. As there was a lot of in and out going on during a day, a stripping room was always drafty.

The farmers labored inside a building in cold weather and it was anything but cozy and comfy. But farmers are accustomed to seldom if ever getting to work in a perfect setting.

With all that said, I must admit the stripping room became the hub of a farm until the tobacco was done. Maybe it was the smoke from the chimney that gave away our location. but it seemed that anyone looking for my dad knew he was in the stripping room.

Rare was the time that visitors didn’t stop by throughout the day. My Great Uncle Roy was a regular and a man of interest to listen to. So were Joe Bolender, Ed Maus, and even my Aunt Margaret and her six children would stop in to see how we were doing or leave something for Mom. I must say that the kids broke up the monotony.

Dad was also a township trustee and sometimes a person would stop in to talk about their road or a fence line. Dad decided to have a phone installed in the stripping room as he did get a lot of calls and it was only a dollar a month to have an extension. I really thought we were pretty important to need a phone. I wonder how many cell phones would be in that room today.

There was one more luxury.

Since we were pretty much cut off from the rest of the world, Dad nailed a small shelf high above the bench and on it he placed our Philco AM radio. Dad allowed my brother Ben and sister Peg and myself to listen to the rock and roll station (if we kept the volume low). When the time came up on the hour, we had to turn it to the news. Dad never wanted to be without the news even when we were stripping tobacco. At noon the news station would give the cattle and hog prices and knowing the prices was a part of business if you raised cattle and hogs like we did.

All in all, it was dirty, hard on the legs and back, and it seemed that it went on for months. But in that time period a lot could be learned if only you were a good listener. Conversations helped many a farmer and helper endure indoor farming.

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

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The Good Old Days

Rick Houser

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2016 News Democrat