6 also with off, rarely away, back: To scare or drive away (birds, flies, etc); hence vbl n minding. [Appar widespread in Brit Engl, though labeled “U.S. regional” in OED3 (mind v. 9)] chiefly Sth, S Midl Cf bird-minder n
1834 S. Agriculturist 7.407, All of the children should be . . employed in the light work of the plantation such as minding birds, cutting up weeds, collecting manure and trash, &c. 1848 in 1988 Hoffmann–Hoffmann North by South 148 seGA, Six hands opening after the ploughs . . about a dozen minding off the birds from Corn field & Rice. [DARE Ed: Writer was from RI.] 1865 Byrn Advent. Fudge Fumble 152 TN, A little boy went out to mind off the dogs. 1866 Natl. Freedman 2.191 SC, Some of the children . . have the care of the babes . . , others “mind” cows and swine, keeping the hungry creatures out of the fields, and little ones from five to eight years old are in the fields and gardens “minding “ birds, keeping them from the corn, etc. 1892 KS Univ. Qrly. 1.97 KS, Mind off: to ward off (flies, etc.) 1912 Daily Advocate (Victoria TX) 28 Mar 1/4, Minding birds is about over for this year. Ibid 18 Apr 1/5, First thing after minding birds off corn is to pick insects off Irish potatoes. 1930 DN 6.82 cSC, Mind the flies. . . “Shoo the flies.” . . “Mind the flies off the food.” c1937 in Lib. of Congress Amer. Memory: Born in Slavery (Internet) cAL, My job was minding the calves back while the cows was being milked. One evening I was minding the calves and old Master come along. 1937 in 1972 Amer. Slave 2.247 SC, When I was a boy, I mind de crows out de field. c1942 (1971) Campbell Cloud-Walking 73 seKY, Ishmael was left to mind off the flies because Fess had gone off to Viny’s. 1942 McAtee Dial. Grant Co. IN 43 (as of 1890s), Mind flies . . keep flies away from the table with a fly brush. This is the same use of the word as in the term bird-minding which has been widely used in the Southeast, particularly with reference to efforts to keep destructive birds out of rice fields. 1963 Owens Look to River 14 TX, Then came March and the blackbirds. In a week of minding them, Jed hated them more than anything he had ever known. 1966 DARE Tape FL36A, We grew our rice and we’d mind the birds out of it; SC15, Used to mind the bird with the musket. 1968 DARE (Qu. NN22a, Expressions used to drive away people or animals—for example, flies) Inf GA28, Fan ’em away, mind ’em away. 1975 McDonough Garden Sass 150 AR, Now we’d have to keep them [=cats] minded off-a that corpse. 1986 Pederson LAGS Concordance, 1 inf, neTN, Always, one of the women, a mother or one of the girls, would have to mind them—flies, during meal.