Scarecrows on the job on Roxbury farm
By Joe Moskowitz
Roxbury farmer Madalyn Warren has about half a dozen new employees. She admits they work 24 hours a day, they don’t get overtime, actually they don’t get paid at all.
Warren has artfully brought back an old way of getting rid of an old problem, mainly crows that like to eat corn seeds.
Warren, who owns Straight Out of the Ground, an organic produce farm on Route 30 just south of Roxbury, said she had never grown corn before. Warren said that there are plenty of people growing good sweet corn in the area so there was no reason for her to get in the business. But she decided to try growing two specialty corns, A Hopi Blue, which is good for grinding, and another variety which is used for making Polenta, an Italian side dish.
The best option
The birds sure liked them. She knew the crows would wipe out her corn in a short amount of time, so she’s put up several scarecrows. She said the only other choices were treated seeds, or setting off a bird cannon every hour or so, and she said neither of those were real choices. That left her with scarecrows.
Farmers have been using scarecrows for centuries. Within an hour and a half, Madalyn, her mother, and her brother had created half a dozen scarecrows and an equal number of flags.
Shortly after the scarecrows were put up in the field, the crows were gone and the corn was saved, but the work wasn’t done.
Warren said crows are smart, at least smart enough to recognize changes. So, every couple of days the scarecrows clothing is changed. Sometimes the scarecrows are very well dressed, much to the dismay of her brother when he saw one wearing his $200 jeans. But it worked.
Before long it will be time to retire the scarecrows because the corn seeds have spouted. There’s nothing left to eat so the crows will move on.
The people will get their clothes back, but some of it may be stretched out a bit. Warren said the scarecrows “have all put on some weight.”
“When it rains, their hay stuffing gets a bit bigger. They are getting a little putty around the middle,” she said.