Posts Tagged With: scything

ScrapHappy September 2021: Scythe o’ the times – Again

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Too good to scrap

Before the once upon a time started, there was a scythe that was used and hung up after each day’s toil in a slightly-too-big-to-be-called-a-shed shed. This happened a lot until one day, it stopped happening at all, and the scythe hung there, quietly awaiting the day it would be taken down, to feel once more the yielding of the blades of grass to its blade of steel…

Once upon a time, some Snail friends moved into a house next to which was an old barn-like building. In this building-of-indeterminant-status, there was a very old scythe, hanging from a rafter. This was a happy scythe – it had done its work and was resting and rusting in peace, while the world outside went on its way, presumably growing very tall grass and cutting it down again with very sharp, much newer blades.

Time passed, about 12 years to be vaguely precise although in scythe years, that’s about three weeks (they can live an extremely long time). One day, Mr Snail appeared and then things happened…

I mean, you can’t let a scythe rust to nothing without an attempt to rescue it, right?

This piece of scrap really was quite a challenge. I use a scythe reasonably regularly (see here) but I am still learning, particularly when it comes to the black magic that is peening. This is where you repeatedly whack the edge of a blade to make it better at being sharp, which it certainly isn’t immediately after having been whacked with a hammer. I have peened one of my own blades a couple of times but, because I don’t scythe rocky fields and so start to damage the edge, any difference I have thought was there before and after peening might be down to wishful thinking.

This old scythe was an opportunity to see if my peening technique was actually doing something since, when I tried to cut grass with it, it mostly folded the grass over, without actually doing any cutting. The snath (shaft and handles) seemed OK (it’s metal) although the wooden grips could do with a coat of varnish.

This blade was so blunt I nearly called it Emily. Or Anthony.

This blade was so blunt I nearly called it Emily. Or Anthony.

 

Peening jig (not a dance)

Peening jig (not a dance)

 

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Other bit of peening jig (still not a dance)

After peening, the blade was definitely sharper, but the set-up was clearly wrong. A couple more hours of playing and now it will cut reasonably well – ultimately, I think a new blade will be the answer but until then… scraphappiness abounds!

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Proof that the scythe can now do what it claims

One man went to mow etc. etc. Sorry you can't see his legs, his wearing camouflage...

One man went to mow etc. etc. Sorry you can’t see his legs, he’s wearing camouflage…

oOo

P.S. A warm welcome to Jule, the newest Scraphappy member!

Many other people contribute to Kate and Gun’s wonderful ScrapHappy every month – check out what they have been up to too!

 

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, 
Jill, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Carol,
Preeti, Debbierose, Nóilin and Viv

 
 

Categories: gardening, repair, ScrapHappy, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , , | 26 Comments

Hail to thee, Scythe Spirit!

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It’s a jungle out there…

Just a quick post…

Chez Snail doesn’t have a large area of grass or meadow for me to practice my scything on, just a very small bit of grass at the front. So, when Going Batty in Wales said she wanted to cut her meadow which had become somewhat enthusiastic for growing hogweed and pretty much every other type of meadow plant, I offered to help out. Social distancing is easy as there is plenty of space – now there is a bit more!

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…but we tamed it…

I scythed, GBIW removed the cut hogweed and we talked and talked and talked…

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…well, except maybe this wild animal, who we left to its own devices…

When we were done, we had ham rolls and wine and talked some more. A perfect way to spend part of the day, more so during these strange times!

oOo

Categories: gardening, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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?

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

oOo

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

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