Scare crows chilling on the farm - Farmer uses effigies to ward off birds, thieves

February 27, 2018
Winston 'Toots' Patterson uses scare crows to keep thieves and birds from his farm in Bounty Hall, Trelawny.
Winston 'Toots' Patterson will be giving the names of famous musicians to his scare crow.
Winston 'Toots' Patterson at his farm in Bounty Hall, Trelawny.
Now, this is what you call chilling on the farm.

Jamaican farmers have used different methods to protect their crops from birds, but after trying several strategies with unsatisfying results, Winston 'Toots' Patterson employed a very ancient approach that has not only seen him getting the maximum from his fields, but has attracted both locals and foreigners to his farm in Bounty Hall, Trelawny.

Patterson has been farming since 1979, and is a popular source for a wide range of produce such as cabbage, cantaloupe, tomatoes, and callaloo at the Falmouth market. He also does banana and plantain, and rears pigs.

Yet, his acclaim is not just about his farm produce that so many householders in western Jamaica depend on, but the effigies erected on his property, that have not only kept away the flying pests but also thieves.

"I did it to protect my crop because it hard to be in the sun all day and wake up to find it destroyed," he said.

"It works wonders because the birds don't trouble my crop and man not sure, so they don't try mess around."

There are six scarecrows, paired male and female. He has named one of the male effigies for legendary disc jockey Bob Clarke, and says he will also be naming the other scarecrows in honour of other famous reggae icons, but has not decided on some of the names.

Patterson changes their attire when necessary, and outfits each according to their gender, even adding a few bottles of Red Stripe Beer in the handbag of one of the females.

"I was featured on Hill and Gully Ride in 1999, yes, they love what I do," he said proudly. "Some Americans came and did a film on it in December. It is an attraction. Many tourists come from all over the world and take pictures," he said.

Despite the attention, Patterson has no plans to expand his idea into a business but wants to keep it simple, while he continues to do what he loves the most, cultivating his crops.

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