The smell of fall is in the air. Temperatures are beginning to settle in the low 70's each day, the sky is clear blue, and leaves are beginning to turn to red, orange, and yellow. And if you live in Western Kentucky, the smell of tobacco barns smoking would be added to that list. That's right, most people, involved in agriculture or not, will almost always mention the sweet smell of tobacco barns as a part of fall. It's a Kentucky tradition! In my house, the tradition also smells up the laundry room for a few months, but I won't get into that!
So, after being cut in the field and loaded on wagons, the tobacco wilts for a few days and then is put into the barn on tiers. The term used for putting the tobacco in the barn is "running in". There is no running involved so I am not sure how that term evolved.
Each stick is handed up person to person until all the tiers are filled.
This barn is not completely full, but you can see the tier levels.
After the barn is full, sawdust and slabs are brought in to start the smoking process. The wood that is used for this process is scrap hardwood from local sawmills. We are fortunate to have several local sawmills that can easily provide the hardwood to ensure this type of tobacco is cured with perfect color and flavor. Starting the fires is a tricky process. Not only are you starting a fire in a wood structure, but the fires must be started slow. As the tobacco begins to change colors from green to yellow and eventually deep brown, the fires increase in intensity. They also have to be checked regularly. This means walking into the smoke filled barn to make sure fires are not to close to the walls and that no leaves have fallen into the fire.
This would be the view from inside a smoking barn!
This is how the sawdust and slabs look in the barn.
In this picture you can see the tobacco is beginning to turn deep brown. Once the barn is fired for the last time, the tobacco will have a shiny finish to it.
It's hard to tell from this picture, but this barn is smoking. Big boss and little boss are headed to check it! Only big boss goes in the barn, though!
Until next time, God Bless.