Monday, April 2, 2012

A-Z Challenge - B is for "Baccer"

The Appalachian mountains of western North Carolina have a history of hard scrabble farming and making do. For many years, tobacco (or "Baccer") production was one of the main farm crops in this region. It was hardy and could be grown on just about any little patch of land. Whole families would work their fields, planting the young tobacco off the backs of plows, often pulled by draft horses. Even in the last decade I've seen people working their fields with mules and horses. Mules, unlike tractors, don't roll off the side of a hill.

In the fall, the tobacco would be cut and hung in the field on baccer sticks to be transported to big baccer barns like the one falling down on my neighbor's property.

These tall airy barns (well not this airy - this one is a few winters away from being a pile of rubble) with poles crisscrossed through the beams were built specifically for curing baccer.
After curing, it would be transported to someplace like the Big Burly warehouse in Asheville to be bought.
In 2004, the Federal Tobacco Buyout bought most small farmers' tobacco quotas and marked the end of major tobacco cultivation in Western North Carolina. As much as I detest smoking, I miss the beauty of the tobacco harvest. It's a tiny bit of the culture of this area that has all but disappeared.

Do you live in a place where the actions of farmers point to the season or time of year? Is there a harvest rhythm in your life?


  1. It's sad to see that old barn falling to pieces.

    Like you, I hate smoking, but it is such a shame to see old traditions die out when they're taken over by the 'big boys' of business.

  2. I see the cotton crop growing in south Georgia when I travel there. It's always interesting to see the wisps of cotton blowing about.

  3. It may be a few winters from being a pile of rubble, but the photo is beautiful.

    When I go up route 2, I get to see the few farms that are left around here. What's nice about living in Cambridge is that we have farmers markets for the growing season, so several of the ones that are left come to us.

  4. That's a lot of work. I love this theme. It's like visiting a new place.

  5. In Norway crops are hard to grow so we rely on fish...Surprised?

  6. Pa - yes it is!
    Denise - I know that barn is gorgeous, it makes me sad it's falling in.
    Lynn - I love cotton on the vine - lots of it in my home state of Alabama
    Theresa - I think Western MA is one of the prettiest places in the country - and Cambridge would be an amazing city to live
    Laurita - Thank you!
    Siv - I'm so far inland - I would love to eat fresh fish all the time!

  7. This really is a lovely theme. I could feel the beauty and peace of life lived at a different pace in your two posts. Thanks!

  8. Aw, memories. So many folks in my family chewed "bacca" that I thought it was a requirement. I remember telling someone once that I wouldn't chew until I was in my forties. She responded by saying, "You know you don't have to chew bacca, don't you?"
    Boy, was I relieved. :)

  9. We've got those baccer barns all over KY. I am like you, I detest smoking, but I sure love the smell of freshly grown farm harvested tobacco:)

  10. We have tulips every spring, berries every summer, and pumpkins in the fall.
    I've never seen a tobacco harvest. I bet the fields are pretty!

  11. Both of my parents grew up in northeastern North Dakota. Ripening wheat fields are a thing of beauty on the flat, treeless prairie. Because of that and because I'm a teacher, my life has always operated on a planting, growing, harvest schedule.

  12. Julia - Thank you!
    Linda - that story is hilarious - in the letter P you'll learn about my neighbor who does dip (a girl)
    Deana -and KY is part of Appalachia
    Emily - Pumpkin fields are gorgeous
    Barbara - as a fellow teacher, I love that comparison, I'd never really thought of it that way!

  13. We have cotton fields an hour north of us that make the roads on our trips to Phoenix look soft, white and fuzzy during harvest season. Great post. Informational. :D

    Happy Monday!

    Jaycee's A-Z

  14. Those are beautiful pictures, Jaye.

    Moving to MS, I heard many stories from Cale of families whose lives would move in time with the crops, which was very interesting considering I only new a few people like that back in MN.

  15. What a remarkably lovely blog. I will definitely be back. Also, Thank you for the visit!

  16. I love the pictures. It does look like a beautiful and organic place, it's a shame thats been taken away and now its all corporate chain smokers who rule the tobacco industry. Would love to visit some of the old barns and fields.

  17. WOW - how interesting. And that photo of your neighbors barn is haunting! So Sad to think it could be gone anytime soon.
    Stopping by from the A to Z challenge # 970.

  18. I love old barns like the ones you posted. Would love to just drive around one weekend taking photos of them all.

    I'm in NC over near Raleigh and am enjoying your theme :)

    Anna@ Herding Cats & Burning Soup

  19. Interesting post!

    Apples are very big around here. There are always plenty of them around harvest time (which I love since apples are my favorite fruit).

    The Golden Eagle
    The Eagle's Aerial Perspective

  20. Lovely post. Great photos.

    I grew up in the Midwest; corn harvest and soybean, those were the main products. My eyes just itch when I think about the corn 'dust' that filled the air.

  21. Had to read on, as I didn't know what BACCER even was!

    Popping in as an A to Z Blogging Challenge participant. Please feel free to visit and comment on any of my blogs as well, leaving a link to your own post, so my readers can find you too!

    All on and all in the A to Z Challenge

    Heart of a Ready Writer – Bible &Devotional
    Meme Express – Daily Blog Prompts (A to Z)
    Nickers and Ink – featuring favorite classic poems from A to Z
    Practically at Home – Wait till you see what fellow writers are cited – with article links! Maybe you!
    Simply Snickers – Not posting daily in the A to Z Challenge, but inviting you to leave comments with you A to Z/NaPoWriMo poetry links!
    The Mane Point – profiling special horses from A to Z (just a few letter spots left!) –
    Working in Words – Writing How-to’s

    You can click my name/icon for links to all these blogs!
    Happy A-to-Z-ing!
    Linda Ann

  22. I've never been to Ashville but always wanted to visit. Thanks to you, I get to try out the entire month of April. Looking forward to your posts. Your photos are great, too. The barns remind me of simpler times.

  23. I love farming and this post was so interesting. Farming is hard work but I can't think of any work more satisfying.

  24. Every time we drive to NC from Virginia, there are fewer and fewer of those old barns. Your photo had such a nostalgic twist. Smoking had to go, but the barns . . . .

  25. I am so very much enjoying your posts. The details about your corner of the world are fascinating, the photographs are beautiful, and you have a knack for working magic with words--just want to keep reading!

    I agree with the others that it's sad to see that old barn reduced to sticks, but one of the interesting things about seeing it in this state is we can see how it was put together. (Not to mention, that photograph is very eloquent, and it makes my eyes happy, so it's hard to be sad about the barn...)

  26. I grew up working on a wheat farm in Kansas. Even though I live in Chicago now, my birthday still mentally marks the first week of harvest. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to got back, but I will never be able to forget.

  27. Hi, returning your visit to my blog. DH and I love North Carolina. Your photos make me want to get in the car and drive down. Friendly and educational A-Z. Thanks.

  28. Still wandering through your A-Z posts!

    This year some of our farmers are worried they might have lost some of their fruit crops. Trees flowered early, and almost immediately were killed in a cold snap. I predict apples will be expensive at the end of the year.

    Poor farmers, though. I hope they can offset their losses.

    (PS, I heard some of the old tobacco fields in NC are now home to vineyards? Have you tried any of those wines?)


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