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Picking Peanuts in Eastern North Carolina

Picking peanuts reminds me of growing up in eastern North Carolina. My nephew Barney and I loved to play hide-and-seek in the peanut fields. Back then, the peanuts were dug and stacked on poles to dry. There is a certain earthy smell that is everywhere.

Peanut Stacks in eastern NC in early 1040's near Big Mill BandB

Harry Roberson leaning on his Peanut Stacks in Gold Point, NC, circa 1940 (Thanks to Hank Roberson for the use of his grandfather’s photo)

We loved to hide behind these stacks and to climb them, much to the dismay of my parents. All the children in the neighborhood joined us and we stayed out until way after dark. Sadly, the peanut stacks are gone.

These days, farmers dig the peanuts from the ground and leave them in the fields to dry. Then they come through with the Peanut Pickers that pick up the peanuts — vines and all. Out of the back of this Peanut Picker will come the dried vines that have been separated from the peanuts. Later, another machine will come along and bale this peanut hay.

Peanut Stacks on the Farm at Big Mill B&B in 1960

Peanuts Drying in the Fields in eastern North Carolina out the Kitchen Window at Big Mill B&B circa 1959

Folks often ask me what is upstairs in the Pack House loft. Well, it used to be full of peanut hay that was used all year to feed the mules. I remember the sight and smell of it as if it were yesterday. And, truthfully, sometimes you can still smell the peanut hay; just like you can still smell curing tobacco on hot August nights.

There are newer, fancier machines than this one, but these older versions are my favorites. These peanuts belong to Bill Griffin, my next door neighbor. This was taken in 2015.

If you know a peanut farmer, or if you live in the South, you probably know all about Boiled Peanuts. These are the young, not quite mature peanuts that we call Green Peanuts. Be sure to try my Boiled Peanuts Recipe for these salty treats that can be found at roadside stands all over the Southern USA.

Chloe Tuttle Big Mill Bed and Breakfast near Greenville NC

Big Mill Bed & Breakfast, Williamston, NC 252-792-8787

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