Basketball Special: 2017-18 Katherine J Wolfe Virginia J Germann Rev Commadora Manning Mona K Kirker Ohio Rural Heritage Association donates to Food Pantry RULH FCCLA attends meeting in D.C. RULH MS students try ‘Tabletop Twitter’ Ripley Village Christmas update Bonita Planck Carol J Wagner Christopher O Richey Sr Five new members to enter WBHS Athletic Hall of Fame Blue Jays ready to soar under Woodward Fischer named to OPSWA All-Ohio First Team of football all-stars High school girls’ hoop action kicks off in Brown County Formation of new joint Fire & EMS District discussed RULH students learn about ‘Global Food’ Personal financial management class at RULH High School Dale G Ferriel John E Slack Nicholas A Arthur Bonnie J Roush Charles E Faul Phyllis A Mills Carl L Watson Marc W Bolce Robert R Moore Robert K King June R Williams William T Ishmael Sr Deborah J Napier High school hoop action begins Fayetteville SAY Girls Wing Soccer Team finishes season among state’s Final Four Devils visit Georgetown for OHSAA Foundation Games Grandfather charged in boy’s death ‘Real Money’ at RULH Middle School Ripley High School celebrates Veterans Day Reward increases for information leading to conviction in Stykes’ murder Ripley Village Christmas update Kenneth M McKinley Vilvens signs with Mount St. Joseph SBAAC awards girls tennis all-stars Layman inducted into Miami University Athletic Hall of Fame SBAAC hands out awards to First Team girls’ soccer all-stars John D Marks Aberdeen Police Department receives ‘Shop With a Cop’ donation Benefit to take place Nov. 17 for Grace Copple St. Michael students take part in Community Soup Supper Voters return Worley to the bench Ruby A Ratliff Donna J Moore Stella M Glasscock Ellen L Gelter Alverda T Guillermin Justin N Beach EHS dedicates ‘Kiser Court’ SBAAC awards First Team football all-stars, winning teams Sizer earns SBAAC American Division Volleyball Player of Year honors for 3rd straight year Broncos to host Blue Jays for OHSAA ‘Jimmy Young’ Foundation Game, Nov. 17 Vern W Kidd Jr Brown County Election Results – 2017 Michael D Hines Raymond W Napier Leslie E Boyle Gary L Barber RULH NHS welcomes new inductees K-9 Units and handlers visit RULH High School EMS members honored for service Road work on Ripley streets to begin Russell K Wolfer SHAC recognizes volleyball all-stars SHAC cross country all-stars take home awards Eastern girls finish runner-up in SHAC golf standings Week 10 football roundup Kathleen J Bright Sister Marjean Clement Veterans Service Office Moves RULH MS students hold first Science Club meeting Bald Eagles spotted 2017 Celebration of Lights being planned Carlos L Beck Georgetown XC teams qualify for regional championship meet Warriors advance to Div. II Regional Meet Lady Rockets reach end to successful volleyball season Week nine football roundup Lady Warriors regional bound Amy J Caudill Bertha Lindsey Bobby S Conley Ripley Council considers insurance changes, will be making repairs on Rankin Hill Road PRC Walk for Life raises $4,600 Mary E Hahn Gary R Cornette Week 8 football roundup Notable soccer season reaches end for G-Men Lady Broncos are SBAAC American Division XC champs SHAC XC title goes to Lady Warriors Arthur Smith Eugene M Jennings Jr

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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