Friday, June 13, 2008

Eating Crow

I am generally not an angry man.  Lately, however, my emotions have been pushed to great sadness, anger and frustration.  Not for any great interpersonal relationship I might have, but rather towards the crows that cohabit this farm with me.

At the end of Winter I decided to till up one of the larger paddocks that I had kept sheep in lately and turn it into a field to plant Winter food for the livestock.  Seeds from England, Scotland and the east coast of the U.S. were ordered and shipped in.  Giant rape, thousand headed kale, field corn, chicories and mangels were bought and readied to be planted.

The field was cleared and tilled and prepared.  Some of the seeds were planted in flats in the greenhouse and readied for Spring.  The corn planter was found in the old shed and dusted off, in anticipation of warm weather.

As the soil warmed up I began planting out forage starts and seeding the corn in long parallel rows, dreaming of the day when I could just squeeze down the rows, high stalks on either side of me and hidden from anyones view.  

The corn germinated nicely and begin to grow, producing a field of verdant ribbons visible from the hill above.  The starts were set out and began to take root in the freshly tilled field.  And then the problems began.

Every morning I would walk through the field on my way to feed the sheep nearby.  At first just a little damage was done:  the odd plant would be laying on its side, its root drying in the sun. By the end of the first week, the paths were littered with plants, pulled out by their yet anchoring roots.  The corn rows were plagued by the same problems.  Small corn stalks, two inches tall, laying on their sides, dead.

Each morning I would try replanting what I could.  Then when certain death awaited the starts I would bring in new starts from the greenhouse to take the vacant spot.  I began replanting corn in the odd hole were there had once been a hearty sprout.  

My frustration grew daily.  I stood to loose all the plants needed to feed my animals in the fall and early winter and would have to buy in grains to keep the pigs happy.  I then remembered a remedy published in some odd farming book.  If you could kill one of the crows and hang it in the field, the others would take the hint and stay away.  Crows are smart and quite perceptive of the situation around them.  I surmise that they have chosen this field to torment as it is a long way from the house and rarely visited by humans.

I planned to pull the shot gun out of the closet, load it with bird shot and hide in the hedgerows early the next morning to take out one of the black demons.  I really didn't want to. I would really prefer to be sitting in the kitchen with a cup of hot coffee and the latest cookbook enjoying the time before milking rather than laying on my belly in the grass ready to ambush a raven.  I also didn't think I was a good enough shot to pull it off.

And then my luck changed.  Driving around in the afternoon, doing my errands I came across a dead crow in the middle of the park and ride lot.  Just lying there.  Already dead.  No apparent trauma, no sign of violence.  Almost as if it had died of old age while flying and gently fell to the ground.  I quickly pulled over, grabbed it and put it in the back of my truck.

I marched out to the field with string, the crow and a couple of fence posts.  Between the two posts the crow was hung so that it would twist with the breeze, making it very visible from anywhere near the field.  Minutes later as I walked down the hill to the house, I heard the tell-tale sign of angry crows.  Not just the  basic craw-craw but a more emotional, mad craw-craw. 
When I went back to continue filling in the empty patches where there had once been corn seedlings, I saw the black birds circling around and around the field.  

Not sure if I will be given peace from the crows by the sight of the dead edifice in the center of the field, but it quells my anger at least for the day.  Only time will tell if the newly reseeded corn is safe. 

1 comment:

  1. It's been two weeks -- has it worked??

    Reminds me of an OLD southern death cult (later the cult) song, "Four crows nailed to a wooden post, bleed upon a barren field."


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.