If you are working your Fall Garden, it’s just about time to do the last harvesting before the freeze. Temperatures in the High Desert have been swinging lower at night. Then I came across this scarecrow that couldn’t scare a fly. Her days are over. But she’s still cute.
A Softer, Gentler “Shoo-crow” in the Morning
What self-serving crow would take flight in fear when facing this adorable representation. I found this on the Internet last Autumn and it reminded me of the toddler-sized dancing rag dolls where children could slip their feet into an elastic band on the doll’s feet.
Who wouldn’t want to dance across the grassy yard with a light-footed blonde, and constantly beaming, partner, who knew all your steps. Yes, I had one, though it belonged to my younger sister, I would gleefully spin across the lawn under the English walnut tree. She didn’t have the same dancing images that I did. And, although I was a bit embarrassed to be dancing with a doll while nearly teen-aged, it seemed that the doll inspired me to just go for it.
Yet, here it was, attempting to scare away ravenous birds who just wanted to dive into the garden.
Scarecrows have been around in some form since Egyptians first netted their fields to catch flocks of quail in their fields. Greeks and Romans were the earliest to use human -styled scarecrows. In the Medieval era when anything that vexed you had to be demonic or sent by some evil-worshipping villager, they were using children as bird scarers.
Even as the Pilgrims were preparing their first meal with the First Americans, who taught them survival skills, the farmers were using what they knew from decades earlier. They had time to grow European corn and potatoes and carrots to offer at the first harvest dinner. The natives offered maize, squashes, and seeds, berries, and nuts , as well as fish, watercress, lobster, dried fruit, clams, venison, and plums. But, funnily enough, there is no research listing actual turkey but other fowl arrived on the platters.
Planting, tending, weeding, watering, and harvesting, while keeping the critters at bay, was a full-time job. And whether you were Native or New Englander, each harvest was the indicator of whether your village would store enough food and be strong enough for the encroaching winter.
- Most crows would look twice before landing
Even in the Southwest, scarecrows were employed in the New World, too. Some tribes used young boys to tend the flocks and scare birds by throwing rocks at them. Others used woven reed and yucca to hang a variety of feathers, sticks and bones that clacked.
A scarecrow swaying and flapping in the breeze was, and continues to be, a deterrent for most animals, not just hungry crows. Think about your garden scarecrow. Is it a collection of tin pie plates hung from cords in the trees? Whirligigs are often spinning in the garden, then after the harvest season, can be found on porches and front yards. Do you stuff an old tattered pair of jeans and a flannel shirt? Or do you get creative and invent a new version like the young lady shoo-away scarecrow?
One of friends placed soft and rancid pumpkins around the edge of her garden to deter daytime garden invaders, but I think she had more night visitors that were attracted to the odors.
Let us know what you do in your garden when it’s time to plant your scarecrow.