I Can’t Resist – #ThursdayDoors

The field next to this barn is barren and the barn looks to be packed to the gills.

Two things are happening this week that caused me to bring a not-exactly-new collection of doors to the festival. One, work is driving me crazy. Two, I love these barns! To be clear, these are all new photos. They’re just new photos of barns, some of which you’ve no doubt seen before. Still, there’s a difference, and the difference is what I focused on. These barns have tobacco in them.

We have enjoyed some unusually dry and cooler weather this September. The barns are open so the tobacco can dry without the need to fire up the propane heaters. Also, the harvest is much faster now that they aren’t growing the tobacco under shade cloth. When they grew shade tobacco, the plants would get to be six or more feet (1.8m) tall, and they would harvest individual leaves from the bottom up, over a period of weeks. The tobacco they are growing now is shorter and they harvest the whole plant at once. Entire fields are cleared in one or two days.

When harvested, the tobacco is hung on racks, and the racks are hung in the barns on two layers. The sides of the barns open so that air can easily flow in and around the tobacco. Large ridge vents across the roof, or mechanical ventilators or a variety of gable-end vents give the cool dry air somewhere to go. So do those big doors at each end.  You can smell the tobacco as you drive by. I have to admit, even given all the information about the health risks, that smell is enticing.

Today’s gallery includes mainly open barns (and these barns open every which way) and hanging tobacco or, in some cases, just interesting angles, lines and light.


Thursday Doors is the brainchild of Norm Frampton, who brings us barns and other doors from Canada, Italy and elsewhere. More important, he invites people from around the world to join him, so there is always an abundance of interesting and beautiful doors. If you want to see more doors, or share your doors, head on up to Norm’s place and check it out.

88 comments

    1. The smell is particularly enticing when they have to use the propane/gas heaters to dry the tobacco. It’s hard to describe, but the tobacco they grow, historically has been for fine cigars. It’s not burning, but it’s present. Thanks for the comment, Joanne.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m trying to think of a good adjective, and I guess it would be fascinating. The barns are handsome, and the idea of the slats opening on the sides for drying just makes me smile thinking about the folks back when who decided to try that idea. I’ve never seen a tobacco barn, so I love your posts on the topic. The description of the harvest reminds me of Kansas wheat harvest which is amazing to watch. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Judy. My brother in Iowa has taken me to watch farmers harvest corn and soy beans. It’s amazing. The tobacco is still mostly harvested by hand, but it’s much less labor-intensive today than it was when they grew the tobacco under shade cloth. The barn design is fairly ingenious. Simple but effective.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I wonder the same thing, Pam. This tobacco is grown mainly for fine cigars. I don’t know if that makes a difference, but the smell is almost sweet.

      I know, pretty soon, but work seems to want to test me right up until the end.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My husband quit smoking a few years ago, having been a smoker for over 40 years. The smell of cigarette smoke now makes him almost sick. I wonder if this might be different, though, from the barns. These are beautiful photos, Dan. They almost romanticize smoking a fine cigar!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They do bring mixed emotions to the surface. They are tearing down large numbers of barns around here. As the tobacco demand shrinks, they sell the land off for development. One of the reason I took these pictures is because I’m not sure how much longer they will be around.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I stopped smoking 57 years ago, yet these ingenious barns fascinate me. Imagine an enterprise today that is still done by hand and not by computers!! Amazing.

    Love these barns Dan…..well, I love all barns!

    It’s weird, even when I smoked I didn’t like the smell of cigarettes. Cigars? Ewwwww. But a pipe? I would swoon. Love that smell. So I’m guessing something different is added to each of these products.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

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    1. Good for you, Ginger. I never smoked, probably because my dad smoke Pall Malls. He quit when he was 40. These barns are simple yet effective.

      This tobacco is grown for cigars. I’m not sure I want to be in a room when someone is smoking one, but the aroma is attractive.

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  4. I can see why you can’t resist – the view and the smell that is. Great barn photos. Very cool technology. How do they survive the winter snows? We don’t have tobacco farms where I live, this was fascinating to see and read about. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Shelley. The slats are closed in the winter. Sometimes, if there is tobacco inside, they wrap the entire barn in plastic! But the unused barns survived for years. They do require maintenance, including new roofs, which is why they’ve been tearing them down :( We lost 8 or 9 this summer.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, my, the entire barn in plastic! Sounds like a good way to create mold…!? That’s what I was thinking too – they can’t hold up forever, boards swell and shrink with the weather. They are a fascinating design though – I’m glad you shared photos of them. The old ones have a quaint charm to them for sure!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Some good pics here, Dan. Can’t go wrong with a classic barn. Always interesting to see them open (which I didn’t realize they were built to do until I first saw it on your blog). I like how you included a couple pics with the drying tobacco visible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can imagine you saw a lot of tobacco in Virginia. When they were growing tobacco under shade cloth, the brought workers in by the busload. I didn’t grow up here, but I have friends who “worked tobacco” – it was miserable work, because it got well over 100° under the shade cloth, but the pay was good.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m always down for another barn post Dan, so do keep’em coming.
    The design of these passive drying systems is quite ingenious.It’s usually the sort of thing that starts with a basic idea and then it gets tweaked and improved bit by bit over the years.
    As a former smoker I’m not a big fan of the smell of burning tobacco. But the smell of drying tobacco? Mmmm, yeah I get it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Norm. Even in the ones I see as we drive around the area, you can see little design tweaks. I never noticed the slats on the gable ends until this year (I don’t see these barns open that often). I don’t like the smell of burning tobacco, especially cigarettes, but driving by these barns at the right time is heavenly.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You captured some pretty images Dan. I don’t care for the smell of tobacco but the smell of a freshly lit pipe is nice. I think anything breathed into the lungs but pure oxygen is bound to cause trouble. We breathe enough garbage mixed with what we have to breathe every day. But that doesn’t stop many people who really love smoking. I never did. I have enough trouble watching what I eat! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Cheryl. It’s best you not bring up watching what we eat. I’m not doing a very good job with that task. I don’t like being around smokers, but I understand the appeal. I agree with you about breathing.

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    1. They are growing less and less each year, John, but there still is a lot around here. I think it’s all still for cigars, but I don’t know that for a fact. I know the stuff they grew under shade cloth was for the wrapper leaves.

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  8. I always enjoy barn doors, although I do hope these barns don’t inhale. :-) I know tobacco grows in places where other crops might not flourish and that it provides a living for a number of farmers, but that give me very mixed feelings. However, I don’t have mixed feelings about the doors. They’re great. As for work, it won’t be long now. :-)

    janet

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  9. Fabulous pictures! I’m not a cigar fan but the drying method is genius. I love that it hasn’t been replaced by modern technology (more efficient, less costly, blah, blah, blah). I was able to visit a cigar-making shop in Cuba where they stilled rolled them the old fashion way… by hand. I imagine their drying barns looked similar to the ones in your photos.

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    1. These farms used to grow tobacco under shade cloth in order to create conditions similar to the Caribbean. That tobacco was used as the outer wrapper of cigars. They do have gas/propane heaters for when ambient conditions won’t support drying.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. These are fabulous tobacco barn photos! Not only is the photography excellent, the workings of the barn are evident. I love the light and shadow created by opening the sides. Thanks for a great doors post, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Can’t go wrong with barns! We have a few of these barns in Missouri but as you say, the industry isn’t the best anymore. Still see the tobacco being judged at the state fair but, again, not so many as there once were. Dad’s tin of tobacco being opened to fill his pipe is a scent I’ll never forget though!

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  12. We do not have tobacco farms here, Dan, so to see these barns to me is fascinating. I love the simplicity behind the idea of drying the tobacco. There is something in the perfection and repetition of the slats I find mesmerizing. I suppose that is my math part of me coming through. Really enjoyed this post today! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Dan – love the barns and seeing the tobacco hanging … I saw it out in Rhodesia – so great to see yours here. Fresh dried tobacco – I can imagine it pervades the neighbourhood … interesting how the plants are raised and harvested slightly differently today. Thanks – good luck with the work overload … cheers Hilary

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