Thursday, November 26, 2009

Dark Fired Tobacco

Most of the firing process was over when I arrived in Kentucky.
I did manage to find one barn that was still being fired.

When Tobacco is fired wood is piled up into rows on the floor of the barn. The wood is then set on fire and covered with sawdust.
The smoldering wood creates huge amounts of smoke and heat.
The heat and smoke are controlled by the adding and subtracting
of wood and sawdust during the firing and also with air vents built into the barn.
These vents can be opened and closed by the farmers to control the process of smoking.
This may be unbelievable to most people but these barns are insured and if they burn down the farmers can recoup some of the cost of their lost crop.
Many barns catch fire during this time of the year and burn to the ground.
My cousins have lost at least two tobacco barns and one hay barn just in the last few years.
I remember when we would fire tobacco on our farm when I was around twelve years old.
I would go into the barn late at night to check on the fire with my father.
What was so amazing to me was the fact that we were tending fires underneath tobacco that
was so dry and brittle that it would crumble in your hand.
If you watched close you could see sparks climb on the wind blowing through the cracks of the barn.
The sparks would go up and land on the big leaves of the tobacco. The sparks would rest on the
leaves and looked a lot like Fire Fly's flickering all through the barn.
I just knew that at any minute that barn was going to go up in flames.
We watched those fires very close and the barn never burned down.

The barn that I sat in late at night and marveled at why it was still standing is the wood sided barn pictured here in this Blog.
I was twelve in 1977.

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