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...use a scythe?

Posted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 4:27 pm
by Maykal
Hi!

I have an area of garden about 900m2 which needs cutting. The land is too rough for a mower at the moment and I'm not sure I want to splash out on a strimmer at this point in time, so I'm thinking of cutting it with a scythe the way all the grass is cut here in the countryside and has been since forever. You often get itinerant scythists (?) coming to the village cutting the grass for free (in exchange for keeping the grass) but I was thinking about having a go myself.

Does anyone do this? Is it a skill that can be picked up relatively easily? How long does it take to cut such an area?

Mike

Re: ...use a scythe?

Posted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 4:42 pm
by Zech
There was an article about this on the main page here not that long ago:
http://www.selfsufficientish.com/main/2012/04/tis-the-season-to-be-scything-by-paul-kingsnorth/

Re: ...use a scythe?

Posted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:14 pm
by Durgan
We always had a scythe when I was a youngster. Use is an acquired skill. We used it for cutting tall grass and weeds around various farm buildings, and choice clumps of vegetation for feeding various animals. It must be razor sharp and like all muscle powered hand tools it is backbreaking work if not done properly or with too much misguided enthusiasm.

Re: ...use a scythe?

Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2012 2:34 am
by Maykal
Thanks for the comment and thanks especially for the video clip Rachel.

I'll give it a go but it does look like hard work, and as Durgan says, backbreaking, especially as I've already got a bit of a dodgy back to begin with!

Re: ...use a scythe?

Posted: Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:22 am
by oldjerry
You'll hurt like hell the first couple of times,but onlybecause you're using muscles you don't usually.The video clip describes it really well(though he has the handles adjusted so it's too far from hs body for me,so the shoulders ar's e too open).As the only real alternative is to put a blade on a decent on a sized strimmer(and trust me they aren't exactly easy on the back,if used all day),that's why commercially they use finger blades and either spray or leave corners\obstacles etc.

Re: ...use a scythe?

Posted: Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:57 am
by Durgan
I can still hear my Grandfather telling me to use my body not my arms when making the cutting swing. We must remember in the days before the invention of the binder or reaper,gangs of men in line cut the grain crops and laid it in swaths for the women to bundle and pick up. This was not so long ago. And not everyone could afford to purchase so the scythe and sickle were in use a long time after the invention.

AT A GLANCE:
The reaper was a horse drawn farm implement invented by Cyrus Hall McCormick in 1831 to cut small grain crops. The mechanical reaper replaced the manual cutting of the crop with scythes and sickles. Developed to cut down wheat more quickly and more efficiently.
http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventions/reaper.htm

Re: ...use a scythe?

Posted: Mon Jul 16, 2012 8:22 am
by gregorach
The modern Austrian scythe is an amazing tool. But yeah, it takes practice... Well worth learning though it you ask me.

Re: ...use a scythe?

Posted: Mon Jul 16, 2012 7:08 pm
by Maykal
Durgan wrote:We must remember in the days before the invention of the binder or reaper,gangs of men in line cut the grain crops and laid it in swaths for the women to bundle and pick up. This was not so long ago.


It's still 'now' in Romania. Teams of men cutting crops with scythes is not an uncommon site here and a horse-drawn plough is still as common a site, if not more common, than a tractor.

So, I picked up a scythe head but didn't have the means (or skill) to peen it. The area that needed cutting was mostly weeds though so I had a bit of a go anyway, at least to (literally) get into the swing of it and practise the 'with the body' action from the video. I didn't do badly and cut (or more precisely, battered) down half the weeds in the garden in about an hour, an area of about 400m2. Luckily a neighbour took pity of me and came round with his razor-sharp scythe and helped me finish the rest (in exchange for a beer and some of the cuttings for his pigs), particularly one area which was more grassy and needed the sharper edge.

A friend of mine's son in the neighbouring village has now peened the scythe blade so next I'll have a go at what was once another vegetable garden which hasn't been touched all year and is now knee-high with weeds.

Re: ...use a scythe?

Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2017 2:22 pm
by Greening
Hi, are there any scythers near Edinburgh? Our little community garden in the Meadows is surrounded by a little hay field. It would wonderful if one of you could bring your scythe and cut the hay.

We would be thrilled, so do get in touch!

Re: ...use a scythe?

Posted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 5:51 am
by Weedo
I agree with the need to learn how to work. I was lucky enough to have a couple of mentors from the old school in my younger days who taught me the right way to use tool when working digging potatoes, cutting fencing, baling wool,breaking out etc. Even jobs like digging post holes has a definite body rhythm that is much more efficient. End result was working less and doing more.