Scythe o’ the Times


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My scythe doing a very bad impression of a guitar

At the end of August, I went a one-day course to learn the noble, ancient and fantastically sensible art of scything. I thought I would give it a go, with no real reason other than to see if I liked it or not (and indeed could actually do it).

Many years ago, I learnt some Tai Chi and I was surprised to discover that scything is very similar in terms of how you shift your weight from one side to the other and allow the momentum of the blade to do most of the work. Once you have the hang of it, scything doesn’t make your joints ache!

Scythe 6

The vegetation is definitely shorter in the bit I attacked, er, scythed

Turns out I did really enjoy scything. So much so, I bought a scything kit at the end of the day. Now, I thought, I can practise at Denmark Farm, helping to maintain the meadows there.

Two months later, I managed to find time to give it a go!

Scythe 1

Honest, there are some windrows in there somewhere…

I manged to scythe an area of approximately 23.75 m2 in just under an hour and a quarter, which included setting the blade angles up initially, and sharpening as I went along.

Scythe 3

Heap o’ grass

People using a strimmer, particularly a petrol-driven one, have to wear ear defenders and usually have an MP3 player too. I did think about listening to some tunes while I scythed but then thought, no, that didn’t feel as if it ought to be part of the experience. So I listened to the swish of the scythe, my (occasional) swearing as I swung the blade incorrectly into the ground, and the glorious sounds of Denmark Farm on an autumn morning with the cries of a kite overhead and the sound of Roesel’s bush-crickets from the field just over the hedge. No mechanical sound, no smell of petrol, no having to stop and remove debris and clumps of wet grass from the blade – bliss!

Scythe 4

Honest, the bit to the left has been cut

My scything teacher told us that a council (it remained unnamed) had trained a number of its land maintenance workers to us a scythe instead of petrol strimmers, for cutting verges by roads. After 6 months, they decided they would train everyone as it was as fast as strimmers, and cheaper. There were also health benefits, mental and physical. How great would it be if every council did that? And, come to think about it, that person who decides to cut their lawn at 8 o’clock on a Sunday morning?

Scythe 7

Blade cleaned, everything ready to be packed up, then off for some coffee!


Categories: gardening, Sustainable Stuff, volunteering, wildlife | Tags: , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “Scythe o’ the Times

  1. pat2727

    That looks like a truly worthwhile skill. Kind of wish I’d picked it up, back when I could do such things.


    • If you have a lot of meadow to cut, it’s the best way to do it, I think. Actually, it is physically much easier than handling a machine – the scythe is very light and spends most of its time with the blade resting on the ground!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Makes me wish we had a lawn… no, not really!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. coppicelearner

    I use a scythe too even though until this year I had no lawn. I use it to keep paths clear – well when I get round to it I do! As quick as the old petrol strimmer, much nicer and it doesn’t run out of petrol with just 5 mins of work left to do. I am also more likely to pick it up and do just a small patch because there in no time spent finding the petrol can, putting on the gear, getting it started…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely! Even the setting up of a scythe is pretty straightforward (wel, I can do it, so it must be). I will be peening the blade soon once I have had another couple of hours or so scything, and that will take a little time to sort out, but with a petrol strimmer, you have to get petrol, get it serviced etc so just the same. 🙂


  4. What a great hobby to take up – and so practical, too 🙂
    I have a field here, in desperate need of cutting, if you ever want more ‘practice’ Lol


  5. Just had to pop by and was delighted to find this post! I used a scythe (some time ago now) when I lived in the country and I liked it, too. I’d have one again in a heartbeat. I like what that council did, too. Here (near Salmon Arm, BC, Canada) the tendency is to spray the ditches / verges with poisonous chemicals for ‘weed control’. My cousins say sometimes the spraying is done by young people in shorts and tank tops, with no masks or other protection. As you might imagine, the whole idea makes my blood boil! So three cheers for anyone who learns to scythe. ~ Linne

    Liked by 1 person

    • And the other thing with scything is that it is sooo soooothing when it is going well – the swish of the blade with the sounds of nature unobstructed by machines. Why control weeds and grass any other way? And it’s easier to prepare the blade than filling tanks with nasty chemicals and a million times safer too! 🙂


  6. Pingback: ScrapHappy September 2021: Scythe o’ the times – Again | writinghouse

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