The art of building a properly functioning scarecrow is largely forgotten. Most that exist today are merely decoys, unable to hunt pheasants or play mandolins like their forerunners. Even so, every now and then, reports emerge of straw men wandering the land of their own accord.
In modern times, instructions on how to construct such a being are communicated between farmers in a series of forbidden almanacs. A complete anatomy is constructed out of vegetation stored within the scarecrow’s abdomen, with each organ consisting of a composite sculpture of organic forms. A complete liver, for instance, begins with a hollowed aubergine, and is thereafter filled with olives, vinegar, yeast, and thirty-seven other ingredients. Chains of hollowed gourds form a rudimentary digestive tract, held together by sutures of wild grasses. Recorded methods range from being absurdly simple to impossibly complex; some recipes are said to require up to one-hundred fifty different species of flora to construct.
What ultimately separates this type of automaton from merely being a glorified compost heap is its brain. This is by far the most complex aspect of its engineering, as it defines the tasks which it carries out once freed to wander the earth. A series of glyphs are delicately carved into an apple’s skin, in a forgotten alphabet that somewhat resembles ‘phags-pa script. None who live are capable of reading these patterns, yet they have been passed down from generation to generation with remarkable accuracy. On a surface level, they resemble the wrinkles of an organic brain, though it is perhaps more precise to say that these scrawlings serve as a primitive form of functional programming.
The scarecrow’s organs “come to life” as the flora hidden within their straw begins to rot. The bacteria consuming them from the inside serve as an animating force, setting in motion chemical reactions that simulate life through lifelessness on the macroscopic scale. This colony-being exists in a state of constant decay, and though it ultimately consumes them, the energy of decomposition serves as the source of all their bodily motion. Some have even posed that the metabolism of these microorganisms produces an epiphenomenal consciousness, and that they truly have minds and personalities of their own.
It is worth noting that, despite their namesakes, the miasma produced by scarecrow innards is more likely to attract corvids than repel them. After their seven to thirteen days of unlife come to an end, the very birds that they are thought to frighten arrive in flocks to tear them apart.