The Homestead Scarecrow: History & Tradition

by Charlotte Walker
The Homestead Scarecrow: History & Tradition

For thousands of years, scarecrows have been part of the global rural landscape.

There are accounts of scarecrows from Egypt, Greece, Rome, Japan, Britain and beyond. Modern technology has replaced the use of traditional scarecrows but we still honour this age old tradition on our homestead. It makes me happy to do so.

Each spring it is our tradition to dig into our rag bag and clothing cast off’s and dress up our homestead scarecrow for the coming season. We look for things that are shiny, sparkly and bright recognizing that these things together with the human like figure can help keep the birds from raiding our freshly planted seeds.

Truth be told, even if the scarecrow proved ineffective we’d still have once because it’s become a tradition that brings us joy. I believe that they work even if it’s just to lift the spirits in the garden. The critters certainly appreciate the straw in the winter and inevitably we have to re-stuff and shape each spring.  Children that visit our homestead also delight in it’s presence.

The Homestead Scarecrow: History & Tradition

Dorothy: How can you talk, if you haven’t got a brain?

The Scarecrow: I don’t know. But, some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don’t they?

Dorothy: Yes. I guess, you’re right. ~ The Wizard of Oz

Interesting Scarecrow Facts

  • Early Egyptians used human scarecrows to protect their wheat fields from flocks of quail. Farmers would hide beneath wooden frames covered by nets. When the quail arrived to feast, the farmers would scare them into the nets and bring them home for supper.
  • Japanese farmers made scarecrows called kakashis to protect their rice fields. They dressed the kakashis in a raincoat and a round straw hat and often added bows and arrows to make them look more threatening.
  • In old Germany scarecrows were fashioned into figures of witches made out of wood. The farmers would carry these figures through the fields to draw out the spirit of winter and hasten spring. The witch then became the scarecrow guarding the gardens and fields, protecting newly planted crops and frightened away the foraging birds.
  • In medieval Britain, children were often used as live scarecrows. They would patrol the fields of crops and scare away birds by waving their arms or throwing stones. Later on, farmers stuffed sacks of straw, made faces of gourds, and leaned the straw man against pole to scare away birds creating the scarecrow that many of us have become familiar with today.
  • During the Great Depression in America scarecrows could be found across the whole country until after the Second World War when farming began to use chemicals to protect their crops.(source)

If you enjoyed this you might also like a few of our other DIY/Crafty type posts including: DIY Rustic Chicken Tunnel & Fencing, Homestead Life: New Arbour, Stubbornness & Love For Sticks & Twigs, Upcycled Outdoor Kitchen.

Do you have a scarecrow in your garden?

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