Thursday, July 10, 2014:
Three times we planted the field corn. Three times it germinated and got a couple of inches tall, then disappeared, or at least thinned down by half or two-thirds. We’d go out one morning and our nice even corn patch would be a mangy mess, so uneven that we just plowed and replanted. More corn would come up, and then the same thing would happen again.
It was crows doing the damage. The rams had, to be completely accurate, done their share of mowing the first planting, leaving aside the kinked, wiry field peas and nibbling the whorled corn leaves down to the quick, but they only had a day in there, because we moved them to a distant pasture when we saw what they were doing. And it wasn’t deer, because deer would have left tracks in the soft earth between the rows. No, it was crows, maybe even just one crow, that made the wreck. Striding along between the bright green rows of seedling plants he would pull them up, one by one, and eat the sweet, germinated seed at the bottom of the shoot. Sometimes if the ground was hard he would get just shoot, no seed, and drop it in disgust.
We caught him at it one morning when we went down to see a calving cow. A solitary black form, very quiet at the bottom of the garden, not getting up as we approached until we were very near, then lifting himself just over the beehives and settling in an oak at the edge of the woods. We loaded a shotgun with bird shot but the corn got too big to pull and he didn’t come back. Two-thirds of the field is bare. We sowed medium red clover between the rows to cover the pinky-orange soil and enrich it for the next crop, a late fall green manure of daikon radishes, Canada peas and annual rye.