Scarecrows Not Just For Show

This past week, here on the farm, I was busy replanting the garden again. Would you believe something snipped off the stem of the broccoli and cabbage plants ? UGH! I didn’t believe it either.  At first, I thought Peter Rabbit had left Mr. McGregor’s garden and somehow found my garden. I know for sure; I was as mad as Mr. McGregor was in the tale Peter Rabbit. You remember the story, right? Peter was mischievous and always sneaking into Mr. McGregor’s garden and nibbling on the vegetables though Peter’s momma had warned him not to do so.  If Mr. McGregor could have caught the little rabbit with the cute blue coat, like he did his Pa, Mrs. McGregor would have made a nice rabbit stew out of him, too.  

At first glance, it appeared to be the disaster of the rabbit.  No tracks. No droppings. But after studying it further, it was duly noted that the leaves were still lying beside the stem. A rabbit would have nibbled until all the leaves were gone. Upon discussing it with a gardening friend, he tells me that it was probably a crow. “A what?” I exclaimed. “You’ve got to be kidding.”  First the continual rains to contend with. And deer to worry about.  Raccoons that take out the entire sugar corn patch just before picking. The dogs playing in the freshly tilled dirt needing to learn to stay out of the garden.  Rabbits on occasion. And now, a blackbird to contend with too. Oh my. Another challenge.  

So, on Tuesday, when there wasn’t any rain here on our farm, I didn’t give up. I re-planted the broccoli and cabbage plants. With that done, I surely don’t want to do it again, so I got busy making a scarecrow out of a wooden cross I made from scrap lumber. I dressed it in an old shirt and ball cap and found some aluminum banquet pans—big pans, no less—hanging from his arms to hopefully deter the disaster of the big blackbirds known as Crows! I surely do hope it works. And now I know why old-time gardeners had scarecrows in their garden plots. Not just for show but to scare the crows. 

That evening during our front porch ramblings, with the scarecrow on garden duty, I said, “Oh, my gosh, Jeff. Imagine if we were dependant to supply all our food for the pantry and freezer like our ancestors. Given the critters and the rain and the frost, we are contending with—it would be slim pickings come winter.” And it would. We’d be skinny come spring.

My mind traveled to the corn patch we planted a week ago. Just before the monsoon came. Figuring the seed probably rotted. But, no. It is coming up. Yet, I think of how many years in a row that we planted sugar corn and checked it the evening before we were going to process it for the freezer. “Yep. It will be ready tomorrow.” And the plan was to pick it early next morning, only to arrive at the patch ready to pick and find the raccoons had destroyed the crop, pulling the stalks down and devouring every ear. Talk about stopping you in your tracks while cuss words rolled off the tongue.  

But, you know, some years are better than others. Now, this week, I’m further building a small trellis for the cucumbers. As I looked back through my blog, I found lovely photos of my 2013 crop of cucumbers and I was so amazed at my success!  It was the first year I had tried the trellis and it was wonderful. The cucumbers hang from the trellis and are perfect. The story was Let me be the first to share my success!  Ha! What do you know about that? I was reminded of past success. In the picture, the broccoli plant peeking out from behind the cucumbers was outstanding too. And the story tells of Mom coming to the house to the house to make Bread and Butter Pickles. I just love Bread and Butter Pickles! They are the best.  It certainly was a day to remember. You can read the story and see the photos by clicking the phtoto below.

And so, when we have a near miss, or near failure, or a true failure like the sweet corn patch, as in life, we must look for the past success that keeps us going and is sweet nectar for the soul.

As always, Take Joy! It’s there for the taking. 

Sherry is a columnist, author and farm girl since 1962. She share’s her memories and recipes and farm life as a freelance writer.

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