Monday, July 2, 2012

Changing Times

Last weekend the wife and I took the Young'un down to Fort Boonesboro for a day trip. On the ride down we decided to take a few back roads, and stay off the expressway if we could.

It was a beautiful ride through North Central Kentucky. Two lane blacktop road through fields and farms,  dotted with farmhouses and barns, both old and new, and the occasional house trailer surrounded by a jacked up car or two.

The one thing I did not see was a tobacco field. I saw cattle pastures and corn fields, hay fields and soybeans.

But not a single stalk of tobacco.

It was rather sad. Tobacco used to put a lot of money into the Commonwealth of Kentucky; money that worked its way down through the entire economy. Local Merchant charge accounts and bank loans were payable "when the tobacco sold'. Many a youngster bought his first car with tobacco money, money earned by planting; hoeing; cutting, housing and stripping tobacco. At first for pay, and later by renting a tobacco base and being responsible for the crop himself, and the business of hiring workers, paying the expense of seed. fertilizer and fuel, and being responsible for profit or loss of the crop. A lot of responsibility when you are 17-18 years old.

And another loss for today's youth.

There are probably similar opportunities today in the agricultural world, but I haven't been involved in farming for a while, so I don't know for sure, but I doubt it. Tobacco is a very labor intensive crop, and most of the others, like corn, grains or beans, as far as cash crops go, are not. They have had entire systems developed to make the production of these crops as labor free as possible. Tobacco never did, or probably could.

One thing we did see that was new were the vineyards. I'll bet we saw 3 or 4 vineyards on the way south. This is interesting for two reasons, to me anyway.

One, this is kind of a throw back to the 1860's- '90's, when this area was a major wine producer.

Two, apparently the farmers in Kentucky have just traded the production of one vice for another.

And, if memory serves, another labor intensive one, plus one with the disadvantage of long lead times and investment before any income can be realized.

I wish them luck.

The world is changing, and I suppose we need to change with it. It just seems like to much is changing too soon.

But then my grandparents were born before the Wright Brothers flew, and saw men land on the moon.

That was some CHANGE.

And I'm worried about grapes replacing tobacco.

And I don't even farm.

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