Bobby A Reed Harold L Barger Ralph M Gaither Stranded students rescued by Brown County cooperation 4-H Teen Ambassador Dunning attends SHOT Show Veterans Service Commission invites veterans to seek help with benefits Unemployment rate rises in Brown County Pick a Lollipop, help a dog A season to remember G-Men hit the field for first baseball scrimmage Eastern’s Rigdon, Purdy earn AP SE District Div. III honors New blocking, kicking rules address risk minimization in high school football Judy A Schneider James M Darnell Lawanda R Truesdell Paul E Grisham Arrelous R Rowland Dennis E Stivers David M Daniels Fayetteville man is charged with child porn April 1st Grand Opening for Jacob’s Ladder Resale Boutique in Georgetown Talent Show auditions at Gaslight Theatre Nine indicted by county grand jury Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall visit coming next May to BC Fairgrounds In it to win it! Bronco wrestlers end season on successful note Eastern’s Hopkins finishes 5th in long jump at OATCCC State Indoor Track and Field Meet SBAAC awards academic all-stars, winning teams Marvin D Atkin Beverly S Flatt Jessie M Sanders Leroy Deck Sr Jody A Towler Sherman E Young Kenneth C Burton Varnau’s face second defamation suit Attorney General to visit Georgetown schools Clermont County GOP hosts Wenstrup, DeWine at dinner Fatal car crash in Adams County BC Chamber welcomes new Cricket Wireless store to Mt. Orab Aberdeen Council approves 2017 budget Royce K Zimmerman Lady Warriors advance to Elite 8 SBAAC awards boys basketball all-stars SBAAC girls basketball all-stars take home awards SHAC Winter Sports Awards Banquet set for March 12 Altman claims 170-pound district title Sirkka L Buller Arthur C Schneider Lowell G Neal Virginia M Schirmer Connie S Darling Harold L Purdin Terry E Frye Lucille Schumacher Lady Warriors roll to district finals Broncos take care of business to claim sectional crown G-Men upset MVCA to earn berth sectional finals WBHS JROTC Rifle Team competes at Camp Perry Lady Rockets finish 12-12 Season reaches end for Rockets Eugene D Ring Two indicted on major drug charges Two charged with home invasion Cincinnati airport expanding services, lowering prices in effort to compete Two sentenced in common pleas court Georgetown man hurt in car crash Robert G Miller Linda M Howland Robert E McKinney Mildred J Hodges Farrel L Amiott Patricia Brown Rick L Dye Mary E Nagel Betty Ratliff Broncos claim SBAAC wrestling title Broncos pull ahead for win over G-Men in SBAAC Tourney Ripley boys wrap up regular season with win at Lynchburg Eastern girls are sectional champs Anderson pleads not guilty to battery charge Some county offices to change locations Fayetteville prepares for Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall HealthSource hosts Chamber of Commerce meeting Five sentenced in Brown County Common Pleas Court June Howser Marguerite A Fender Timothy D Harris Jay R Purdy Robin S Godwin Marc A Wachter Chester W Eyre Warriors blast past the G-Men, 61-40 Rockets performing well heading into post-season tournament play Lady Warriors bring home the Gold with perfect 13-0 finish in SHAC Western Brown Junior High wrestling team wraps up successful season Rockets fall victim to ‘Pack’ attack Broncos suffer heartbreaking loss to Mentor Lake Catholic in state quarterfinals Adult Education Center coming to county ‘Senior Playground’ moving forward at Georgetown park

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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