growing tobacco

600_7672-e_wGrowing tobacco is hard work. It’s harder than growing i.e. corn, potatoes or grain. That’s because the farmer has to prepare his patch first with the plough and saw the seeds. But, he also has to go in his patch every day to cut the blossoms and pick unwanted leaves. It reminded me to the  wine growers work.

Everything is done by manual work. Ploughs and carriages are pulled by oxen. We didn’t see any machine in the fields.

Take care.

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making cigars

600_7878-e_wLast week I wrote about how I met two tobacco farmers and showed a few photos. I also told about the process how to prepare the tobacco leaves for making cigars. Today I continue on this.

In the photo above, you can see a tobacco patch to the left and a drying house in the back, where the leaves are hung up for drying. The process for creating a cigar from the dry leaves is quite simple as you can see from the gallery at the bottom of this post. Young and soft leaves are in the core, wrapped by older and bigger leaves. The cover leave is wrapped outside and glued with a fluid.

Each leave is cut along the finning (leaf vein). The vein is never used for cigars. The vein is the part of the leaf with the highest level of nicotine and other chemicals that make smoking so dangerous. On the other hand, for cigarettes the whole leaves are shredded, so that a cigarette is more dangerous for one’s health than smoking a cigar.

At last the ready cigars were put into the wooden form for a few weeks to make them resistant against self dissolving.  But, you could also start to smoke one at once, if you want to.

Take care.

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visiting a tobacco farmer

600_7692-s_wAs I mentioned in my last post, we also visited tobacco farmers. One got the patches from his father 5 years ago, when his father was 80 years old and too old to do that work anymore. He told us much about producing cigars, while the other one showed us, how to assemble a cigar. The farmers get the seeds from the government. They grow the plants and when they get a certain hight, the start to harvest the first leaves, those at the bottom. They become the outer cover sheet. Later the plants start blooming and the blooms have to be cut and given back to the government. Also, the government get’s 80% of the dried leaves, while the farmers are allowed to keep the remaining 20% for their own use. This is the source for the cigar sellers in the cities I mentioned earlier.

The government operated fabrics assemble their cigars by using leaves from different growing places (full sun, part shadow or shadow), different tobacco species and different farms. The leave ware not only hung up for drying, they also voted by certain marinade for the fermentation process. Each farmer has his own secret receipt for this marinade. On the other hand, the leaves of farmers cigars are all from their own patches. That’s why cigars from different brands have different tastes.

On the table in the above photo you can see the tools needed for assembling a cigar, 3 ready cigars and a few roles / bundles of farmer’s cigars covered by a thin layer of wood as a very basic variant of humidor. In the background you can see many bunches of drying tobacco leaves, as we are in the drying house at the moment. Here in the drying house you have a very distinct smell of fall, autumn foliage and cigar boxes (as I remember from my grandfathers cigar boxes) or tobacco shops. The smell of cigars is already there, but it also smells like fall, when the trees lost their leaves, that are laying on the ground and start drying and fouling. Although, the tobacco leaves won’t start fouling, but drying.

Next week, I’ll focus on the patches and the work outside.

Take care!

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Visiting a humidor manufactury

600_7581-sc_wTobacco is very important in Cuba, especially in the north. Not only you find big tobacco patches and cigar manufactories, you can also find workshops, where they build those boxes for storing cigars in optimal conditions, with regard on humidity and temperature. All the cigar and humidor factories are operated by the government. All? No, a few manufactories are already private owned and operated by tobacco farmers (producing cigars) and carpenters (making humidors).

You can visit both, cigar and humidor factories and see people assembling cigars respectively cutting the wood for humidors. But, as in all government operated factories a visitor is forbidden to bring any kind of bag (even not a lady’s handbag) or a camera. On the other hand, when visiting a tobacco farmer or a craftsman, you can ask for permission, as I did.

In case, you think of a humidor of being a simple box made of cheap woods or card box to sell the cigars, so you are wrong. Storing cigars and keep them in good shape is really complicated and need a lot of specific knowledge.

Here you can see, some of the wonderful humidors. They are made of wood from cedar trees, which is best for keeping the right humidity inside the box. More luxurious boxes even have hygrometer for metering the humidity inside the box. In case the humidity is too high, the cigars would begin fouling. Is it too low, they’d drying out. Both conditions are bad, if you want to smoke them.

In the gallery you can not only see many more humidors, you can also have a look inside the workshop.

Have fun and take care!

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some cuban birds – part IV

600_8203-ec_wThis is the final post in this little series on cuban birds. In case, you missed one of the previous posts, you can find them here.

In this post I want to introduce you to the cuban national bird, the Cuban Trogon. You can see it in the photo above.

The other two birds on the photos in this posts gallery can be found in a wider area. The brown pelican is at home in the whole Caribbean area as well as in california. While the turkey vulture can be found in all parts of south, middle and south america.

Have fun.

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some cuban birds – part III

600_7172-s_wThis week I have another continuation of the series on cuban birds. I assembled some photos of different kinds of egrets I found in different parts of Cuba. In the gallery below you can see photos of Little Blue Herons, Tricolored Herons, Snowy Egrets and Cattle Egrets on the fields following the plough or cows and horses, hoping for an easy catch.

Most of the time, I saw them standing on the fields or in / beside the water hunting and fishing. Surprisingly, they were less shy, then those here in Europe. It was quite easy to come near (20 – 30 meters) without disturbing them. Also, they only flew a few meters before landing again. So, I don’t have any photo of a flying egret or heron.

In the photo above you can search and find 3 different egret species. Try to find them. It’s not that easy. One more post on the birds in the queue. So, stay tuned.

In case, you missed one of the previous posts, don’t hesitate to have a look now.

Take care!

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some cuban birds – part II

600_6872-ec_wThis is a continuation of last weeks post. There were so many different birds, that I split the post for not to overstress you with all the photos. And, as I wrote in my last post, I don’t the names of the birds, expect the cuban emerald hummingbird. So, if you know one of the names, don’t hesitate to use the comment box below, to send me the name.

In a following post I’ll show some more of the astonishing birds.

Take care!

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