There is something about a scythe which makes a statement about sustainable living. Most people in today’s western world cannot comprehend that you can mow a lawn without the ubiquitous motor mower. The scourge of suburbia, the motor mower roars its disturbance throughout the weekend, upsetting neighbours who had thought to have a sleep in to recover from the stresses of life in the city. The scythe on the other hand is by near silent. All you hear is the swish swish as the scythe slices through the grass, and every few minutes, if you listen carefully, you can hear the whetstone honing the blade back to a fine edge. We jokingly refer to them as “porridge powered lawn mowers”, and we actually DID have someone once call wanting to buy a “porridge powered lawn mower!
For someone who is or wants to become a subsistence farmer, a scythe makes a lot more sense than a tractor. With a scythe and a rake, you can make your own hay. With a scythe, a rake, a garden fork and a flail, you can grow and harvest your own grain.
But it is too hard, you say! It’s a hard skill to learn and it is hard work to do! That’s why we have machines. Well, … we beg to differ. Scything is not hard work and it is not even hard to learn. Yes, it is a skill, but it is a skill that every man in the village used to possess. And wielding a scythe is a lot more relaxing than wielding a whipper snipper. So come along and learn to scythe and start to understand just what an incredible tool the scythe is. Our supplers, Schrockenfux of Austria, have been making them since 1540 – the Mercedes of scythes.
Scything is taught in two sessions – early morning on Saturday and early morning on Sunday – early morning because that is the best time to scythe – when the dew is still on the grass. In these sessions you will learn how to select the right blade for the job at hand and how to fit your scythe to yourself for best mowing results. You will learn the basics of scything and how to adjust your technique for different kinds of grasses and plants. You will also learn how to avoid damaging your blade whilst scything. And you will learn how to do a quick field sharpening of the blade using a scythe whetstone. You are welcome to practise scything throughout the day as long as you watch out for children, dogs and unsuspecting passers-by.
Young Etan from Peppercorn Creek Farm scything at the Mudgee Small Farm Field Days. Ross (from Scythes NZ) and Joel from Byron Bay scything at one of our weekends. Ed supervising as Jessica takes her first scything steps.