Scarecrows are famous landmarks of our rural heritage. Almost as famous for not scaring birds away as they are fun to make, a scarecrow just *might* really work for the birds. Here at Micro Eco-Farming, we didn't feel complete without at least one quick how-to for making a scarecrow.
Promote your farm with a scarecrow:
Scarecrows can work as a customer draw for your farm. Build one and have him or her hold up a new sign every now and then, such as, "This scarecrow job is boring." Or something more practical like, "Blueberries will be ripe by this weekend."
You can also outfit your scarecrow with a T-shirt that boldly states your farm's website. Or you can use a scarecrow for seasonal eye-catching announcements like on the T-shirt below we built on our Zazzle shop which you can customize.
A couple other farm promotion scarecrow themes: Consider setting up a scarecrow museum for a unique agritourism twist or embellishment of the usual corn maze and hayrides. For a smaller farm and more intimate group of on-farm customers such as CSA members, hold a scarecrow making workshop on the farm.
Simple scarecrow how-to with variations if you're adding a farm sign T-shirt vs. only a button up shirt:
Start by making a cross in similar
proportions as a Christian cross. People often use two pieces of bamboo or PVC pipe, one seven feet tall or so, and the other three or four feet, depending on what will be used to dress the scarecrow. Lay the two pieces on the ground in cross pattern
and connect them with duct tape or twine at the joint, layering in criss-cross
fashion until the
joint connection is very strong.
NOTE: If using a farm sign T-shirt, use a larger one so it can be stretched over the frame. Depending on the size, it can be hard to stretch a T-shirt over the frame if the "arms" pole is more than three feet or so total. Or, put the "arms" through the T-shirt upfront, then attach the longer pole to the shorter pole. And make sure the T-shirt is already on the frame before adding the head.
Make the scarecrow’s head by stuffing an old pillowcase or by wrapping a yard of burlap around a head-sized ball of packed straw, rags or sawdust. If placing a hat on the head, put it on as you're stuffing it, so you can manipulate the stuffing up into the hat section to help keep the hat tight on the head in the breeze. It also helps to have the hat and stuffing in place first before adding eyes nose and mouth, to make sure they'll be visible.
Use waterproof fabric glue such as Gorilla fabric glue to affix eyes, nose and grin
cut from felt or scrap fabric. Spray or paint with fabric
waterproofing material if desired, which can also lengthen the life of the stuffing a little longer from eventual rain soakings. Before tying the bottom of the pillow
case or burlap shut with twine, place the head
over the top of the cross, then tie it in place.
If using a farm sign T-shirt, stretch it over the frame if you haven't already done so before attaching the poles, and before the head is attached. Shove stuffing into the shirt from below, manipulating it so the sign is still easy to read, then tie the bottom of the shirt to the larger pole.
Bunch the long sleeves in so each end of the "arms" pole shows, and tie the sleeves in place. Then slide old gloves onto the ends. Depending on the type of gloves, they may stay on on their own, or you may want to safety pin them to the ends of the shirt sleeves.
If your sign shirt only has text on the front you want people to see, you can further adorn your scarecrow by sliding a large, button up old denim or old plaid shirt over the T-shirt arms before the gloves are attached. Leave the shirt open so the sign shows, and gather the bottom around to the back and tie it together there, so it remains open in front even in the wind. Then attach the gloves.
If using only an old button up shirt without a farm sign T-shirt, unbutton the shirt and put it over over the “arms” of the cross and button it closed. Affix old gloves to the ends of the "arms" as explained above with the T-shirt. Stuff the shirt and tie the bottom
of the shirt to the base of the cross to keep the stuffing inside.
For legs, stuff a pair of lightweight khakis or jeans and tie them shut at the ankles.
One way to attach them if they're lightweight enough is to attach them to the bottom of the front part of the shirt with several jumbo safety pins. Don't use just one or two, use several to spread the weight around, or else the weight in the wind may pull and tear the shirt. If you can't find lightweight pants and stuffing and are concerned, a lighter weight leg option is tying leggings closed at the ankles and stuffing with old pantyhose (found at second hand shops, seeing as though most of us don't have old panyhose, yet alone new pantyhose, laying around.) The lumpy legs flopping around can be pretty funny looking. And there are leggings that look like blue jeans.
Another way we prefer if the pants have intact belt loops is to tie twine around the belt loops in front and back like makeshift suspenders and hang them from the "arms" pole. If using a farm sign shirt, manipulate the position of the twine suspenders so the words can still be clearly seen.
Hold the scarecrow up by placing the bottom of the base in a five-gallon bucket filled with sand or gravel. This allows a strong person to move the scarecrow around now and then so birds and other wild animals don’t get too used to it. Just in case it really is doing double duty as as a true scarer of crows!