The cows ate my scarecrow

He was so cute, orange shirt, smiling face, tattered hat set on his head at a cocky angle. His pants and shirt were stuffed with something that looked like dried corn shucks. Barbara helped me tie him to the front entrance, a set of iron pipes painted red that front a field of Coastal grass. The pasture is full of happy cows with nothing to do all day but eat and drink and sleep. With a life like that you’d think they wouldn’t be interested in dried corn shucks and old blue jeans but then you wouldn’t have had a lot of experience with cows. I have and I am here to tell you that cows can and will eat anything.

Roaming a field of thick grass, sometime during the witching hours they ate my beautiful scarecrow that I bought at Littlejohn’s. It was meant to be a fall decoration, a whimsical greeting at my gate and now there is nothing left but one arm, a chest and a still smiling face. At least those parts were there this morning, who knows what notion those steaks on the hoof might take tonight!

I’ve always had this thing about scarecrows, real ones guarding a farmer’s garden and cutesy ones sold purely for decoration. When I was in grade school, our teacher always led us in a song or two first thing in the morning. One of my favorites was the Scarecrow Song and it went like this: “The scarecrow stands the whole day long, just a noddin’ and a wavin’ at the old wind’s song. Coat-tails a flappin’ and hat pulled low, watchin’ and waitin’ to scare the crow. When caw, caw, caw comes over the farm, the old crow flies in search of corn. Bang goes the farmer’s gun, down falls the crow. Ha…ha…ha…laughs the old scarecrow.”

We did all the action indicated in the song and I loved it especially the part where everybody fell down. One reason I enjoyed the song was because I had been badly frightened by a neighbor’s scarecrow when I was just two or three. Mr. Bell made a giant scarecrow and planted it in the middle of his wife’s vegetable garden. It was easily visible from our house and I didn’t understand how someone would stand out there day and night and never move from his spot. I didn’t want to go into the yard on the side of the house where I could see him so my daddy took me through our field that joined the Bell’s garden and let me examine the big scarecrow as he explained the purpose of this “bugger” who crept into my nightmares.

I don’t know if anybody uses scarecrows in their gardens or corn patches anymore. I think there has been a decided trend to bright pieces of metal or aluminum, flags and even mechanical owls with heads that swing back and forth as the wind moves them are used to scare away birds that might eat the crop.

All I know is that I would really like to have a colorful, happy scarecrow in my fall decorating scheme but instead have a field of fat happy cows that have never touched my pumpkin patch. Well, I learned a long time ago that life is uncertain and we can’t have everything. I am thankful for what I have, truly thankful and feel many times blessed.

Joyce Whitis is a free-lance writer who makes contributions to the Empire-Tribune. She has written Patchwork especially for the E-T since 1976.