Front Yard Scarecrows

How to Make One

Once an old-world emblem and tool for entire farming communities that protected the fields in the farmer’s absence, the scarecrow has become one of the most popular and versatile harvest figures. A scarecrow can be scary or friendly.

It has been an agricultural figure around the world for centuries. For example, The Russian field spirit polevoj passed from the forest to the field at midday and punished those he found doing damage to the crops.
America’s industrial revolution with its technological advances in farming equipment and techniques gave the scarecrow less field work to do. Even so, this valued farming character continued to be an important symbol and by the 1800’s was being used for decoration as well as for practical purposes. Individual creative expression became more commonplace and the scarecrow took on a more ornamental and artistic nature.

This traditional folk art has found its way from the large crops and extended back yard gardens to the landscape of modern front yards and porches.  Colorful and even flamboyant, it can welcome friends or ward off foes.

Making a front yard scarecrow is something the whole family can do. The scarecrow can reflect what the family is interested in. For instance, a soccer family may want their scarecrow to look like a soccer goalie and a family fond of science fiction may choose to build a space age scarecrow.

Here are some easy scarecrow-making tips:
 Basic structure: Often a “T” made of lengths of wood forms the backbone and arms. Other options include a broom handle, or baseball bat. The scarecrow can be standing, sitting, lounging in a lawn chair or mounted on the wall with twine and nail.
Clothes: use any article of clothing that would have been discarded, including faded old blue jeans, outgrown party dresses, ties, Halloween costumes, scarves, gloves, and shoes.
Stuffing: Use wadded up newspaper (stuffed into plastic bags to keep dry), and old plastic gallon-size milk container that can fit into pant legs and shirt arms.
Head and Face: A simple head can be made of a board with stapled on paper bag that has been decorated or a more complex paper-mache version with glitter, make-up and stickers can be used to create beautiful, comedic or harsh looking faces.
 Accessories and Extras: Apply costume jewelry, a stuffed animal, an old baseball mitt, watering can, or even bedroom slippers. There’s no limit to what your scarecrow can be!

Corn Gods & Deities

Native American Corn Gods

Corn food lore is very rich in detail. This food, also known as maize, is a basic food crop across the Americas. Cultivated by hundreds of tribes, including the nomadic, it was considered to be like gold because it was a common trade item.

Known as one of the Three Sisters of the northeastern tribes, it was often planted in groups with squash and beans, the other sisters. In all cases it was (and still is) believed to be a special gift to the people from the Creator. In some instances it embodies the spirit of a particular deity.

As a result it also played a part in ceremonies. For example, sacred (blessed) corn pollen or cornmeal were used as ritual adornment and spiritual offerings. 

Here are four Native American Corn Gods and Spirits:

First Mother also known as “Corn Mother” is one of the most popular of the corn gods, especially for the Penobscot and Abenaki tribes. Although legendary details vary, sacrifice is a common theme.  She is said to have sacrificed her life to feed her children. Her body became a garden.

Selu, in Cherokee mythology, is believed to be the First Woman and goddess of the corn. Her name literally means maize or corn in the Cherokee language. She had twin sons. Once they had grown, they grew afraid of her power and decided to kill her. Despite that she taught them to harvest corn so that her spirit would be return each year as a reminder of her sacrifice.

Mandaamin unlike other corn spirits was most often portrayed as male. He too sacrificed himself to bring corn to the people. In some Potawatomi versions, however, he marries First Woman and becomes the father of humankind.

Little Giver. Not much is known about the legends of this corn spirit. She is often portrayed as a dwarf who gave corn to tribes. In both Seminole and Miccosukee mythology this deity is still honored for her generosity. 

Corn has also long been a common clan symbol in many Native American cultures. Tribes with Corn Clans include the Muskogee Creek, the Navajo, the Mohave, and the Pueblo tribes of New Mexico. In some instances there are several corns, including the Blue Corn Clan and Yellow Corn Clan. And, during planting and harvesting customs, corn dances are performed to appease to and honor this important spirit.

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