Scythe Buyers' Guide
Trimming evergreen trees with a "grass" blade
There is a diversity of cutting techniques demonstrated here, but rather than instructional per se, this few short clip is meant as a satire challenging the "brush blade mentality". We purposefully used the lightest (in relation to length) blade from those listed in our catalogue (370 gm., 65cm.) and a homemade willow (Salix alba) snath weighing 1 1/2 lbs.
Watch the video here
Mowing a lawn with a scythe
We made these short clips for the benefit of a popular writer who claimed great fondness for the scythe, yet still believed that it was a tool for the cutting of tall grass only -- and consequently recommended that people wishing to ready themselves for the transition into post-carbon reality (or let's just say "sustainable living arrangements") and if they wish to keep their classical lawn, obtain a reel mower.
What Ashley is cutting here are various areas of our homestead's yard, all of which are trimmed several times during the season when still relatively short -- and always to ground level. (see photo)
Clip #1 shows the mowing of the "traffic zone" -- which is trampled nearly on a daily basis by people, animals and vehicles. It is therefore cut most frequently, whenever it reaches 8 to 10 cm of growth, down to nearly nothing. Notice that Ashley is leaning forward somewhat more so than otherwise. The reason? As explained in the note this very short and trampled grass requires the application of extra downwards pressure.
The 3 clips in Series 1 show the mowing of an area which we try to avoid trampling much, and usually cut at about 30cm of height.
The down pressure is still applied but less so than in clip #1. Ashley is leaning over less, in part also because she is using the one-grip style snath -- which in itself encourages a more upright posture.
In all these scenes an 85cm blade was used. The swath width is approximately 270-280cm and forward advance at a stroke 20-25cm.
The kitten and the scythe
This is one of the scythes used in the videos above, and the kitten investigating considered it the "cat's meow". Don't scoff at it's opinion; for it has shown uncommon interest in everything scythe-related, and likely understands more about this tool than do many modern people. As you can see in these videos, it is very serious about watching every detail.
The End of Cheap Oil and The Rise of the Scythe
Note: This video, plus it's updated version posted the same year, was previously on YouTube, but they've had a rough life there... First of all, the entire videos' audio was removed a couple of years after they were posted (2008), solely because we had used a few lines from Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" without asking permission (plus the YouTube cops blocked our computer's access to YouTube). About a year and a half passed with the videos being muted, but still viewable, until one day the "audio block" was removed. Ah ha, we thought, they've come to their senses and decided that using a short piece of Bob Dylan's music in a home-produced, not-for-profit video was not such a great crime after all! Several months later, the entire videos were removed from YouTube...
Synopsis: A 14-year-old girl with a scythe, cutting circles around a tractor equipped with a mowing machine! Far-fetched? Today - perhaps. Tomorrow - the use of simple hand tools will make increasing sense in direct proportion to the rising costs, economic and otherwise, of operating oil-dependent machinery. Long live the power of human bodies!
Thanks to Alexander Vido (camera) Greg Hemmings and Jesse Cottingham (editing).
A Good Scythe at Work:Click here to watch on YouTube.
You will likely need version 6 or later of Quicktime Player to view this video.
Download the most recent version (free).
The abbreviated description:
Short scenes demonstrating the versatility of a good scythe in diverse conditions--from "lawn" and field cutting to an "obstacle course" requiring precision mowing techniques. No audio--it got lost in the editing process. Some of the mowing is done by Ashley and Fairlight Vido. When this video was shot in 2003, they were 10 and 13 years old and already good mowers. They are not expending a lot of energy, because they have good tools and have learned the skill.
This "short film" is a temporary substitute for a good, full-length instructional video on hand mowing. We were advised that for a video to be easily played/downloaded, and also to accommodate modern attention spans, the length should not exceed five minutes. Attempting at the same time to present a variety of possible applications, most scenes are shorter than the ideal. However, it serves as an introduction for those who: a) have never seen the scythe being used at all, and b) have always thought that this is a "man's tool" and cannot imagine how it can be wielded by a 10- to 13-year-old. As well, it will demonstrate that a scythe can be used to cut very close to obstacles and reach places where a sicklebar, a rotary mower, or a string trimmer cannot--regardless of the height of the grass.
23 Jan. 2004
Modified 12 Jan. 2013