320,000 plants and a drone: How 1 farmer recreated Jose Bautista's bat flip in a corn field
Also involved: a survey engineer, months of planning, and shuttling raccoons across a river
It has been almost a year since Jose Bautista's famous bat flip. The move by the Toronto Blue Jays slugger has been featured on T-shirts, baseball cards — even tattoos.
Now, that moment during last year's MLB playoffs, in a game and series eventually won by the Jays overTexas, has been commemorated in a Florenceville-Bristol, N.B., field about an hour and a half northwest of Fredericton.
Chip Hunter and his family planted and cut a corn maze in the shape of Bautista and his bat, along with the team's logo and the cheer, "OK Blue Jays," to mark the team's 40th season this year.
"We do a corn maze every year and we're always looking for ideas," Hunter told CBC Here and Now's Gill Deacon. "Last year we did Terry Fox, we've done Secretariat and we've done the 100th anniversary of the Montreal Canadiens."
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The family has done 16 mazes in total, he says, and since they are such big Blue Jays fans, this year they were looking for a way to celebrate the team's anniversary. They were watching the game in which Bautista flipped his bat, and decided that was the moment to capture in this year's maze.
So how do you make a 2.4-hectare corn maze, which will eventually be more than four metres high?
It starts with a survey engineer, who figures out how to fit a specific image onto the field. The family plants at the end of June and then rolls the field flat, at which point the engineer comes back and lays out the design using paint and flags to mark out its shape. Then, the family goes in and removes the corn from the marked areas as it comes up, revealing the design.
Raccoons like corn, Hunter says, and can often mess up the design as they wade through the field. They set up live traps (bait: crackers, peanut butter) and shuttle them over a nearby river.
"If they make it [back] across," Hunter says, "they can have it."
A lot of plants are also involved: 320,000, Hunter estimates. They lay down seed twice as thick as they normally would, to create a much denser field. That helps the design show up clearly, and also makes it more difficult for people to crash through and muck up the pattern.
Oh, and there's a drone that helps out, too.
The family used to have a friend with a small plane take photographs periodically, but "now that we have a drone and we can check every day or every few days how things are growing, we can check if we did it right or not," Hunter explains. "It's a lot easier."