By Ike Adams
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — My friend, Roberta Webb, who raises pecans commercially on a ranch near Lubbock, Texas, thinks she has the solution to my black bird problem.
She said crows were once stealing as many as 30 pounds of nuts per crow from her pecan groves until she mounted several big plastic owls atop 20 foot sections of PVC pipe and placed them around the trees and now the crows won’t come near because they’re afraid the owls will get them.
I have two rows of late bodacious sweet corn just starting to tassel. I also have two big great-horned plastic owls in the mail and I’ve already been to Lowe’s where I purchased two 12-foot sections of two-inch PVC.
I figure that once I get my pipes in the ground, my owls will still be 10 feet high and well above my sweet corn which only grows to about seven feet tall. The owls are supposed to be 26 inches tall and look very intimidating. Sunlight or the slightest breeze is supposed to make them move around and twist their heads and they’re supposed to scare off black birds and rabbits as well, which would make them serve the ultimate dual purpose. I’d be hard put upon to tell you which I hate more; black birds or rabbits.
I forgot to ask Roberta if the owls kept squirrels out of her pecans because I would have thought squirrels to be more of a problem than crows to a nut grower.
Anyway, I figure if the owls don’t work in my corn patch, they’ll give all the neighbors something to talk about and provide photo-ops for people who occasionally drive up Charlie Brown Road just so they can say they’ve been here.
In the meantime, I have discovered I can’t shoot a shotgun because Mr. Parkinson makes it wobble too much to aim and, the couple of times I tried, I did almost as much damage to my sweet corn as the feathered vermin were doing. But I still managed to down three big starlings with one shot when about a hundred of them flew off in a swarm when they saw me coming. I couldn’t have missed them if I’d been blind folded.
I used fishing line to hang the carcasses from my corn tassels but the flock came back and ate the rest of my first crop while they held a funeral for their buddies. Bumper Adams, from Letcher County, told me this had happened one time to Everett Banks when he tried the same tactic with a dead crow.
In other gardening news, we have eggplant, okra, bell peppers, cucumbers, Roma beans and tomatoes and such ready to pick but my garden is more akin to an everglade than something you’d try to grow veggies in and I’ve already ruined two pairs of sneakers trying to get a cabbage head. So last Saturday Loretta dragged my knee-high, rubber boots out of the basement, sprayed them full of Raid and then vacuumed them out to make sure all the brown recluse spiders that might be hiding in the toes were dead and gone.
So I pulled them on and headed for the bell peppers which are about 50 feet out from any edge of the garden. I picked a five-gallon bucket full an assortment of all the stuff mentioned above and started back to the house when, all of a sudden, I discovered that I couldn’t move either foot.
Six inches below the surface my garden is normally hard clay but it has rained so much over the last month or so that the stuff has softened up and now it’s like quick sand. I set my bucket down in front of me and used my good arm to pull one foot out and then the other and I did this for like 10 steps. It was either that or leave my boots stuck in the mud and I was wet with sweat when I finally made it to high ground.
It’s too bad Loretta didn’t have a video camera handy because we missed a perfect opportunity to win the grand prize on America’s Funniest Home Videos.