By Mel Rhodes
The word is pretty straight forward: it's a thing designed to scare crows.
Usually constructed from hay, rags or similar materials, and dressed in torn and tattered clothing, hats, etc., these fake humans have been used through the centuries to help protect crops. Farmers place them strategically in open fields recently sown with seed – seeds crows and other winged marauders love to peck up. A flock of these fluttering fiends can undo a farmer's work in pretty short order.
While there are plenty of plants, seeds, etc., out at Clark Gardens, just east of Mineral Wells, their scarecrows are not designed so much to scare as to please. October is more or less the "Month of the Scarecrow" at Clark's where Scarecrow Alley will be a hangout for the inanimate straw folk.
The goal, according to Clark's, is to "create one of the largest and best scarecrow displays in the state of Texas." And you can help!
"Clark Gardens provides the scarecrow body and you provide the decorative touches," a spokesperson said.
Scarecrows gussied up Sept. 16 - 30 will be displayed throughout Conifer Trail for garden-goers' pleasurable perusal during October.
"You can decorate your scarecrow at the gardens or stop by and pick up a scarecrow form and decorate him/her in the comfort of your home," the spokesperson said.
Individuals may participate and Clark Gardens feels building a scarecrow is a perfect activity for clubs, daycares, scout troops or civic organizations. It's a fall thing everyone is invited to help create.
Clark Gardens is located at 567 Maddux Rd., just east of Mineral Wells and the Parker County line. Follow the signage. Need more info on Scarecrow Alley? Contact Beverly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 940-682-4856. You may also checkout their website at www.clarkgardens.org/happenings.
A 19th Century Take on Scarecrows
The 1881 Household Cyclopedia of General Information gives the following advice: Machinery of various kinds, such as wind-mills in miniature, horse rattles, etc., to be put in motion by the wind, are often employed to frighten crows; but with all of these they soon become familiar, when they cease to be of any use whatever.
The most effectual method of banishing them from a field, as far as experience goes, is to combine with one or other of the scarecrows in vogue the frequent use of the musket. Nothing strikes such terror into these sagacious animals as the sight of a fowling-piece and the explosion of gun powder, which they have known so often to be fatal to their race.
Such is their dread of a fowling-piece, that if one is placed upon a dyke or other eminence, it will for a long time prevent them from alighting on the adjacent grounds. Many persons now, however, believe that crows like most other birds, do more good by destroying insects and worms, etc., than harm by eating grain.
— Henry Hartshorne