Thursday, August 5, 2010

1840's Style Pest Control - Scarecrows!

By Erin O'Brien, Agricultural Programs Intern.

Hi there, blog followers! This is Erin O’Brien, one of the summer interns at The Farmers’ Museum. I hail from America’s Dairyland – Wisconsin. As you might gather, it’s not such a stretch for me to be at TFM! I grew up in the country; the earthy manure smell was often floating in the air near my house! At present though, I’m attending graduate school in Anthropology and Museum Studies in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a slightly more urban environment! There, I most often smell yeast from the breweries and hear ambulance sirens.

My job at TFM is to create educational, hands-on activities for the visitors to enjoy with an emphasis on agriculture. These activities are meant to encourage visitors to get their hands dirty – not too difficult, when you’re in the garden! Most recently, we implemented some 1840s style pest control – the scarecrow! Our lush gardens are alas, a true smörgåsbord for the deer, woodchuck, crows, rabbits, and other unwelcome visitors. These pests can utterly destroy gardens, and thus there was the need to create a deterrent – and one that was in keeping with the 1840s time period that TFM represents.

Scarecrows themselves have been in existence for thousands of years, some of the earliest being in Ancient Egypt. These scarecrows were made to protect the wheat fields along the Nile River from the flocks of quails. Native Americans also used ‘live’ scarecrows – adult male tribe members that sat on raised wooden platforms and would shout and howl at the sight of crows or woodchucks. Other Native American tribes would hang dead crows from the scarecrow. We now have two scarecrows: one behind the Lippitt Farmhouse, and his mate, located across the way in the Field Garden next to the hop house.

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