Crows, the Old Field General, and Garden Warfare

A small garden, ha! What a punchline! I laugh every time I hear it, and I’ve heard it a lot. My wife’s poppaw Lowry is quite fond of the joke that precedes this punchline.

To do the joke justice, he starts out by pronouncing the fact that he’s downsizing his garden. In early spring, he may only plant a few rows of potatoes to really sell the setup. But by mid- June he’s wielding a hoe on a much larger battlefield, a certain glint in his eye as he fights once again with his mortal enemy, crabgrass. At this point, he says, “I’m getting too old for this” and then proclaims, “Next year I’m just planting a small garden.”

And it’s at this point where I laugh and say, “A small garden, ha!” Though I’ve heard that joke many times before–in fact, I hear it every year–I laugh, knowing next year his garden will be even larger. 

Older and Wiser

Lowry and Me

Lowry is now eighty-four. He has an old lawn chair that he sits in and looks out over his “small garden” like a field general. Field is an appropriate term because every year his garden grows in square-footage, to the point that his garden now encompasses a small field. The term general is also fitting because lately he’s been sitting in his chair with a shotgun.

His old foe, the crow, has been pillaging his rows of freshly-sowed purple hull peas, unearthing pea seed with precision beak strikes. But so far he’s been unsuccessful in repelling the crows. Over the years the crows around here have evolved and adapted their garden warfare tactics. The crows post lookouts in the trees near the garden and are long gone by the time Lowry shows up with his anti-aerial shotgun.

To be honest, I’ve started to worry about Lowry. Despite his big garden, he seems to have lost his fighting spirit. In years gone by, he would have concocted some elaborate crow-hunting blind to hide in and ambush his enemy. But now he’s just sitting around in the open for all the crows to see. I suspect the crows are probably ridiculing him in caws. Yesterday, I even walked up on him asleep in the lawn chair–shotgun across his lap. Not wanting to suddenly startle him while he was armed and dreaming, I just walked away and let him slumber. 

About thirty-minutes later, however, I heard a shotgun blast from the general direction of the garden. To be honest, I feared the worst: What if he had been having a nightmare, woke up confused, and blasted a watermelon? But when I got back to the garden, Lowry was grinning from ear to ear, a shotgun in one hand and crow in another. “I thought you were asleep,” I said.

His response: “And so did the crow.”

For another post on Lowry’s propensity for shooting, check out There’s a New Sheriff in Town. Also, here’s a funny story from the Small Farmer’s Journal on Lowry and my other farming neighbor called The Crowder Pea Peace Process.

9 thoughts on “Crows, the Old Field General, and Garden Warfare

    1. Interesting. More lawn chairs and shotguns–could be a widespread phenomenon. I’ve never really thought about it but I guess you could see a mole digging a tunnel if you watched closely enough because the ground raises up a little.

      1. Sounds like that is a daytime activity. If he’s looking for a night job, he can come guard our purple hulls and green beans from the deer and bunnies! Irish Spring is helping, but an extra street howitzer on our side is never amiss!

      2. We about can’t plant purple hull peas because of deer. They completely destroy them. It got to the point once were Lowry ran a single hot-wire, and by hot I mean straight from 110 volts and not an electric fence charger, around the garden. Deer wouldn’t see the single wire and bump it accidentally. You could definitely see where the deer prints stopped at the wire. I finally convinced him to switch over to a solar fence charger so we didn’t accidentally kill someone.

  1. The crows chase the eagles away from my chickens and even saved one of my ducks from an eagle who was attacking her, so I let them stay here. To keep them out of my small garden i hang up old CDs that twirl in the wind, and noisy tin cans that clatter against each other hung on strings. I don’t know if it works too well, but it makes me feel like i’m doing something haha

    1. We don’t have any eagles around here, but I always like watching crows chase off hawks. We’ve tried cans and pie tins and even a scarecrow, but to be honest I think Lowry just likes sitting in his chair and watching his garden. Kind of gives him something to do.

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