Scythes are making a comback!
Back in the day, brilliant people made and used awesome machines like that, to manufacture everyday items like my scythe blade, which I just tore on a rock... AGAIN. I loved the peening hammer, moving so fast it was blurred... the fellow trimming the blades to size with a throatless shear... the massive trip and repeat hammers, complete with swinging seat for the operator. Absolutely fantastic video! Wherever did you find it?
Efforts of the International Scythe Network to promote the use of scythes for a variety of reasons, including:
- independence from petroleum-powered tools
- ecological responsibility
- preservation of time-honoured skills
- the ability to cut fodder for small-scale livestock feed, and grains for human or animal food
- appropriate technology for developing countries - where applicable
- healthy and enjoyable outdoors experience
I provide users with quality European scythe blades, ergonomic snaths and sharpening accessories. For a complete positive experience with the scythe, one needs to satisfy three main aspects: 1.) a properly fitted tool, 2.) good maintenance skills and 3.) proper mowing technique.
The Scythe Must Dance by Peter Vido, published in 2001 as an addendum to The Scythe Book by David Tresemer.
DavidTresemer was correct when he said, “…that for every ‘rule’ or tradition I have for scythe design and technique, somebody someplace else did it a little differently and got the grass cut.”
The commonality of all mowing styles is that the blade moves parallel to the ground and in various degrees of a curve, rather than in a straight line, to assure that the forage is being sliced instead of “chopped”. More comprehensive guidelines to the use of the scythe, which I find efficient, easy on the body and pleasant overall, can be condensed to three “rules”:
1) Do not carry the weight of the blade, especially during what I have referred to as “field mowing”. On an obstacle free terrain, the only reason to lift the blade is to hone it. Children usually grasp this quickly; many adults, on the other hand, seem to like fighting with gravity and initially need frequent reminding to merely slide the blade forward and back in continuous contact with the surface.
2) Attempt to cut equally to the right and left of your body’s centre.
There will be exceptions to the above two rules when trimming obstacle strewn terrain. The following rule, however, should hardly ever be broken.
3) Direct the blade so as to leave all cut grass on the clean stubble of the previous strokes.
To make the practice even more efficient, I would like to add a fourth, not exactly a “rule”, but a suggestion. The distinguishing feature of the mowing style I advocate is that it takes advantage of the velocity created by shifting one’s weight from one foot to the other. It is most pronounced during “field mowing”, yet I still rock sideways (even if only slightly) while performing many short trimming strokes. This is not characteristic of any traditional scything styles I have witnessed thus far, yet will be readily appreciated by readers familiar with the principles of movement (and how a significant portion of force is generated) in practically all Oriental martial arts.
Applying those principles to mowing, it deserves to be emphasized that, to take full advantage of the momentum created by shifting the body, cutting less than an eight-foot wide swath is not desirable. It would tire me more if I were to cut a given extended area by adhering to the more traditional width of swath, which is 5 to 7 feet, depending on the region.
Apart from being unable to use much of the innate strength of the legs, I could not synchronize the motions of my body with the rhythm of deep breathing. It is best to exhale fully (through the mouth) while performing the slicing, and inhale (through the nose) on the return movement. (The short trimming stroke does not afford this, though other rhythms are still worth seeking.)