Early one bright sunny summer’s morning, Stone the crow was perched at the top of the very highest tree in Willow Wood. Stone would see for miles and miles.
It was the start of the summer holidays.
Hooray, he thought, no school for weeks and weeks. No more adding up. No more algebra. No more spelling and best of all, no more Latin.
But very best of all, no more teachers telling him to sit up straight and stop pecking his desk.
What shall I do today, he said to himself as he stretched his wings and preened himself. As he looked across the tops of the trees he could see fields in the distance. They were like a patchwork quilt and right in the corner was a rather tumble down farm.
Farmer Jethro’s farm, a place Stone knew well. He’d been there many times before.
Crows weren’t welcome there as Stone was well aware. But he did have one rather unlikely friend there, Mr. Godfrey.
Mr Godfrey was a scarecrow!
On the one hand he knew Mr Godfrey would like to see Stone and have a chat. It was a lonely life being a scarecrow, standing there in the middle of a field day after day, in all weathers with nobody to talk to.
However, a scarecrow was supposed to scare the birds away not stand there chatting to them.
But unfortunately, Mr Godfrey did like to chat.
About all sorts of things, the weather, which way the wind was blowing, the colour of the sky and the shape of the clouds. Whether a storm was brewing.
Important things like that!
So off Stone flew, skimming the tops of the trees, letting the wind, which was blowing rather conveniently in the direction of Farmer Jethro’s farm, carry him along with as little effort from Stone as possible.
Crows didn’t like to use too much energy when they were flying, let the wind do the work. That’s what all young crows were taught.
As usual Mr Godfrey was standing right in the middle of the largest field. This year Farmer Jethro was growing mangel wurzles. Mr Godfrey was whistling a happy tune to himself when suddenly Stone appeared and landed all of a flutter on one of his outstretched arms.
‘Hello Mr Godfrey’, said Stone, ‘How are you today?
Being a scarecrow, Mr Godfrey didn’t have many feathered friends. He definitely wouldn’t talk to rooks, they were so noisy and badly behaved and he didn’t mind scaring them away.
And those pesky Jackdaws, well they just didn’t know how to behave at all.
But Stone, well he wasn’t such a bad fellow. And he always visited Mr Godfrey by himself. Crows tended to be solitary folk and kept themselves to themselves. A bit like Mr. Godfrey.
Still Mr Godfrey looked around rather nervously to make sure Farmer Jethro wasn’t anywhere to be seen. After all if he was caught chatting to birds instead of scaring them away, he would be sacked. And with no job what would he do. There weren’t that many openings for scarecrows these days.
‘Hello Stone,’ said Mr Godfrey, speaking very quietly. He didn’t want to take any chances. Farmer Jethro had a habit of just turning up without warning. But that’s farmers for you. They just couldn’t be trusted as far as a scarecrow was concerned.
Stone noticed that Mr Godfrey was wearing a rather fine but extremely frayed and moth eaten red waistcoat. It was decorated with fine silver braid and pearly buttons that shone in the sunshine. But it had seen better days. No doubt about that.
‘That’s a lovely waistcoat you’ve got there,’ said Stone ‘What bright and beautiful colours’
‘Yes’ said the scarecrow ‘Farmer Jethro’s granddaughter dressed me in it yesterday, she thought the bright colours might help me keep the birds away.’
‘Mmmm’ said Stone admiring the fine workmanship, ‘I bet it cost a lot of money when it was new’.
The fact that the waistcoat hadn’t kept him away he kept to himself!
Mr. Godfrey puffed his chest out with pride. ‘ Do you think it suits me, I do like to look smart.’
Stone wasn’t so sure about the scarecrow looking ‘smart’. I mean scarecrows just don’t look smart in their hand me down clothes, do they.
Mr Godfrey’s hat was an old trilby, full of holes and covered in stains. His jacket and trousers were in rags and barely covered his straw-filled arms and legs. But he did have a rather trendy white and red spotted scarf around his neck. And of course that lovely ‘new’ waistcoat!
‘You always look very smart to me,’ said Stone not wishing to offend his friend. And it certainly had been an exceptionally fine waistcoat – once.
Suddenly Mr Godfrey, started whispering, loudly,’ Oh dear, oh dear, oh deary me’
‘What’s a matter Mr Godfrey, said Stone ‘ have you lost a button off your ‘new’ waistcoat??
‘Oh dear, oh goodness me,’’ said Mr Godfrey
‘Whatever is the matter, said Stone
‘It’s Farmer Jethro, he’s in the next field, he’s coming to check his mangel wurzels,’ said Mr Godfrey all of a bother.
Stone looked round. He could just make out the farmer’s hat above the hedge. Time to leave he thought.
‘You can’t fly away now,’ said the scarecrow ‘ He’ll see you and I’ll be an out-of-work scarecrow, and then what will I do, you’ll have to hide.’
Hide, thought Stone. Hide where???He was in the middle of a field of mangel wurzels and he was far too big and black to hide behind them. There was nowhere for a crow to hide. Nowhere!!
‘Don’t panic Mr Godfrey, don’t panic, said Stone in a very panicky sort of way, ‘I’ll think of something.’
By now Farmer Jethro had arrived at the gate that led into the field of mangel wurzles.
With no time to think, Stone squeezed himself behind Mr Godfrey’s threadbare waistcoat. But his beak, which was rather large, stuck out through one of the torn button holes.
Would Farmer Jethro notice??
Stone and Mr Godfrey both held their breath as the farmer approached.
‘Don’t move a feather, Mr Godfrey whispered
Farmer Jethro came up to the scarecrow. Fortunately for Mr Godfrey and Stone he was extremely short sighted and wore glasses with the thickest lens you’ve ever seen.
‘ I hope you’re keeping all those pesky crows away,’ he said to the scarecrow in his most serious, gruff, farmer’s way ‘ Don’t want them pecking away at my mangel wurzels.’
‘No cccrows here,’ stuttered an extremely nervous Mr Godfrey.
Right now Stone’s beak suddenly seemed to be the biggest beak in the whole wide world. Possibly in the whole Universe. And beyond.
But the farmer didn’t notice and seemed satisfied that there wasn’t a bird in sight. Well a least not within his sight! Then without another word – he never had much to say, did Farmer Jethro, he was the stern and silent type – he ambled away across the field back towards the farmhouse.
‘You better go quickly now, said Mr Godfrey ‘ he might come back, we’ll have a proper chat another day.’
Stone didn’t need to be asked twice. Crows and farmers just didn’t get on.
In his hurry to get away Stone tried to flap his wings. But the more he flapped, the more he became entangled in Mr. Godfrey’s waistcoat.
Suddenly there was a terrible ripping tearing sound.
But at last Stone was free. As he soared into the sky he took most of the waistcoat with him. Mr Godfrey’s pride and joy was stuck firmly on Stone’s beak and trailed behind him like a bright red, sparkly streamer.
Mr Godfrey cried out,’ Bring my waistcoat back, bring my beautiful waistcoat back this minute.’
But Stone decided that it was best if he headed straight home as fast as possible. So he flew back towards Willow Wood with Mr Godrfrey’s ‘new’ waistcoat streaming out behind him glittering in the bright sunshine. No matter how he shook his head, he couldn’t free himself from the waistcoat.
Near Willow Wood, the Fox family was enjoying a picnic. The little Foxes were bounding about chasing each other’s tails, as very young foxes are prone to do. Mr and Mrs Fox just lay in the grass sunning themselves. It really was a beautiful day.
‘What’s that,’ said Jemina Fox looking up at the sky ‘What’s that in the sky.’
Mr Fox looked up and saw Stone, now resembling a blazing comet in the sky, Mr Godfrey’s treasured waistcoat in tatters catching the sun’s rays and glistening brightly as it trailed behind.
‘What is it ‘ said all the foxes together.
Mr Fox who liked to think he knew everything was stuck for an answer. He didn’t know what it was.
Suddenly he had a brainwave.
‘It’s a UFO’, he said with great conviction.
‘What’s a UFO?,’ the two little foxes asked excitedly.
‘It’s an unidentified flying object,’ said Mr Fox
‘What’s an unidentified flying object?’ the two little foxes asked
‘It’s something flying around in the sky and nobody knows what it is.’ Said Mr Fox
That seemed to satisfy the little foxes, who started chasing each others’ tails again.
Next day, Mr Crow was reading the Willow News and splashed right across the front page was ‘UFO sighted over Willow Wood’
‘Well I never said,’ said Mr Crow ‘The Foxes saw a UFO over Willow Wood, you were out and about yesterday did you see it Stone??
‘No’ said Stone thinking what was he going to do about Mr Godfrey’s treasured waistcoat, now nothing more than a few brightly coloured threads dangling from various branches in Willow Wood.
‘What is a UFO? Stone asked
DID YOU KNOW ?…
In the olden days, young boys used to be employed to scare crows and rooks away from the fields. Bird scarers as they were called existed for nearly 2000 years until the early 20th century.
A large white, yellow or orange-yellow vegetable grown as food for farm animals. In some parts of the country, Punkie Night is celebrated on the last Thursday of October every year, when children carry lanterns called ‘Punkies’ which are hollowed out mangelwurzels
Unidentified flying objects
Unidentified flying objects – or UFOs as they are usually known –
Unexplained aerial observations have been reported throughout history. Some were undoubtedly comets, bright meteors, one or more of the five planets that can be seen with the naked eye.
An example is Halley's Comet, which was recorded first by Chinese astronomers in 240 BC and possibly as early as 467 BC. Such sightings throughout history often were treated as supernatural portents, angels, or other religious omens.
Have you ever seen one??