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Part of the Oral History of Agriculture in Edgecombe County Project. Audio on track 2 ends at 00:00:40. Life-long Edgecombe County farmer Logue Corbett still lives, at the time of this interview, in the house where he was born in 1912. A white man, he attended school in Crisp. From ages eight to twelve he raised chickens, for which his father gave him ten cents apiece (he raised them from eggs in an incubator to biddies in a kerosene-heated brooder house to two-to-three pound birds, ready to eat. He also helped his father with hogs, feeding them and repairing the pen fences. When the hogs reached about 200 pounds they sold them at market for five cents a pound. The family grew tobacco as their main crop, and also grew all their own corn for feed, as well as some soybeans. Corbett was 16 when his father died, and he and his five siblings helped their mother run the farm. When he was about twelve the farm got electricity (he remembers especially their happiness at having electric fans). A neighboring woman came every Monday to help their mother with washing. Corbett describes the work involved during all four seasons of the farm year, from cutting and stockpiling wood in the winter for curing tobacco the coming year, and in the spring preparing the plant beds (the women did most of the weeding, so the soil would be fairly clean by the time crops were planted), to breaking up the soil with a disk harrow, running the rows and ridging the fields, then setting out the tobacco seedlings when they were big enough, and cultivating between the rows. Later came topping the tobacco plants and breaking off suckers. In mid-summer they started curing the tobacco (he says they started much earlier when he was young than farmers do these days). Help was needed for sitting up all night, in shifts, when the leaves were being cured. Then came grading the leaves. When Corbett was young they took their tobacco to Farmville, hiring someone’s truck for the purpose. He has praise for the County Agent system and says their agent, Joe Powell, was very helpful. He thinks the Extension Service has overall been very useful to farmers. He also praises the government’s program of tobacco acreage control, which allows smaller tobacco farmers in states like North Carolina to compete with big producers in Virginia and Georgia. He also recommends the 4-H Clubs as a means for keeping young people wanting to stay in farming. In early years he had tenants on his farm, and more recently has hired help from the towns of Pinetops, Macclesfield, and Fountain. He talks about changes brought about by tobacco harvesters and curing burners (like Florence Mayo and Long’s Blue Flame). Corbett thinks that integration in the schools has gone a long way to improving modern race relations. He thinks the dearth of Black farmers is mainly due to their financial difficulty in getting loans to start farms. He has a pessimistic view altogether of the small farmer’s chances of survival, but acknowledges that the country’s food demands make big farms a necessity.





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