Thursday, 17 May 2012

My new implements

My new implement has a long handle and lots of wire prongs at the end. It is a super duper grass rake. It does a superb job.

My other new implement also has a long handle. In fact it has two handles, one up top, one half ways down the haft. But it doesn't have lots of prongs, it has one. Made of metal, quite wide, wider than one of the prongs, and slightly curved. It is sharp as well, or is supposed to be. When I am standing with it, it is tall enough for me to lean on. When I am standing with it I look like the Grim Reaper. Yes folks, it is a scythe. Not a 'proper' scythe with a mile long blade, but nevertheless a blade long enough to give me a poke if I don't carry it right.

"Oh so pray tell me," you might be asking, "For why do you think you need a scythe?"
"For to cut my mile high grass" would be my reply.
"Would it not be better to use modern technology in the form of a mechanical machine, one that runs along on wheels, uses petrol, makes a noise, smells, may or may not start, is heavy to push despite supposed to be having front wheel drive...."
"Because our modern technology mechanical machine has broken, never to be mended ever again because, for one, it costs too much, and for two, Hubs is ticked off with having to keep mending the string which has to be pulled so that the motor can turn with sufficient energy to make the machine move."
"A strimmer then?"
"Because they are just as much of a nuisance to operate, plus they get tangled up with things and jam, plus it is difficult to aim it with any accuracy which can be disastrous if one is trying to trim around the bottom of one of Hubs' precious fruit trees and one accidentally slices off a chunk of the tree trunk, and, like the mowing machine, they are noisy, smelly, heavy and a nuisance to start as well."

For ages it has been on our minds that we would like to have a go at using a scythe, then the mower broke, and to replace it is very expensive because we don't have a lawn as such, we have a field which we are trying to convert in to a lawn, so we need a heavy duty lawnmower. So the Scythe Project has been revisited, and a purchase of one has been made.

It is a fearsome looking thing, even in the shop we bought it from I was getting some odd looks as I leaned on it in the queue at the till, but then Lester was also leaning on another  equally menacing implement which had a semicircular blade, and which he thought would be ideal for hacking away at the brambles.

Eagerly we tried our new implements out, Lester first of course, because he is The Man, me afterwards, when he got tired. Now a scythe looks simple to use, even if it has a deadly appearance. It is not simple. Not much grass could we cut. But we were not defeated. On to the University of the Internet, Youtube, not Lester, but me. Eagerly I sat and absorbed the elegant techniques of scything as given by several Youtubers: how to stand, how to hone, how to make hay.

Up at six the next morning, because it is 'best to cut the grass when the dew is still upon it'. Up and down the blade I honed. Out into the front garden I went. And swish went the scythe, and swish again, and again, and again. And yes! There before me were few bits of cut grass. I honed again. Tried a different technique when swinging the scythe and was more successful with the amount of grass that was cut on each swing. Half an hour, that is all I allowed myself on that first trial run, only I did not want to do myself a damage.

Back to Youtube to receive more instruction. Back outside the following morning with increased skill, but not much in all honesty. Trial and error, that is what there has to be when one is learning new things, and this most certainly applied to me.

But........I have managed to cut sufficent grass to make quite a pile out front, so wheelbarrowed it over to the Side Field where there was more room to spread it out to dry. As per instructions from a Youtuber, I spread the grass out, left it, raked it, rolled it, spread it, left it, raked it (again), turned it (again), left it (again), then rolled it up to form a mound so the morning dew can only wet the outside of the pile. Tomorrow I have to rake it, spread it, leave it, rake it, leave it, turn it, leave it, and finally roll into large piles for taking away. And that is all we have to do to make some hay to feed our sheep during the winter.

I am a trainee hay maker and scyther of grass. Scything is addictive. I am a scything addict. Now all I have to do is keep watching those Youtube vids so I can see where I am going wrong. Perhaps tomorrow, or eventually, I might be able to cut with a smooth motion accompanied by a swishing sound. It can be done because I have seen it on Youtube..........

Hubs having his first go at being a scyther


rosaria williams said...

I'm most impressed by all the hard work you and your husband do. Now, you are going back in time and using ancient implements that stood the test of time, but not the test of fatigue. Are you sure you want to get this tired?

Oh well, I'm projecting my maladies to you. I get tired after each effort in the garden that stretches over a half hour. In my younger years, I could probably go half a day before collapsing, but never more than that.

Good luck on cutting all that grass by hand tools.

Niall & Antoinette said...

We've stuck with a strimmer as we're far too scared of the wicked blade on a scythe. N would probably cut off a foot and I'd end up impaling him or a cat! Good luck with honing the technique.

BTW you can have some of our rain if you like. We've just had a run of good days but now it's back to a chilly 12, wind and grey skies *sigh*

Vera said...

Rosaria, strangel enough I don't find scything tiring. I thought that my back would complain, but it doesn't, and the only 'sore' bit of me is my upper arms, which could do with some toning up anyway. But I only scythe for about an hour, and I would rather be tired from making effort rather being tired through sitting in a chair and watching too much TV, which is what I did in the UK before we came here. Like you, though, I can't work for hours like I was able to in my younger years, but I reckon half an hour or so is better than nothing. Hope you stay well.

Niall and Antoinette, yes, that blade is indeed a wicked thing, but only when sharp. Since I am not very good at honing our blade is blunt to middling blunt, which is a good thing at the moment, because if it had been sharp then I would have gathered some cuts by now! It is very therapeutic though, and good all round exercise. Our temperatures have fallen a bit as well but are still around 20, but we need some rain so we don't mind if we have a wet spell, and this is forecasted for the next few days.

Horst in Edmonton said...

Hi Vera, My Dad was a champion with the Scythe. He made it look so easy, but when I tried it, I found out it was not that easy. My Dad told me that a dull Scythe is more dangerous than a sharp one. The exercise you get from doing all that work will keep you much younger than you think. Have a great weekend. Keep watching those videos and keep practicing.

Vera said...

Horst, I love the exercise that scything gives to me, but I would like to know how to sharpen the scythe properly! I keep watching videos on how to do it, but I still don't seem to be able to get a sharp edge although still manage to cut the grass. Scything is good for the soul, though, and good for the waistline!

DUTA said...

You're something! In Romania where I come from, scything on farms is often done in teams as it is considered difficult work for one person.

One thing is for sure - the efforts needed to use the scythe will greatly improve your arms' tonus.

Vera said...

Duta, I am only doing a little bit of scything, not huge great fields,although I might have a go at one of our paddocks later on. But I only do about an hour a day as I have too much else to do. As for my arms, you are absolutely right, they are toning up as is my waistline! Plus it has a calming effect on the mind.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Wow Vera I am impressed, I am sure it is also a good excessive to lose weight. I have to admit I hate the strimmer as it puts my back out of action for several days each time I use it, but a scythe I am sure is well beyond me. Good luck. Diane

Vera said...

Hello Diane, a strimmer pulls my back about as well, but a scythe does not seem to, maybe because it is lighter, maybe because of the movement one has to make to get it to cut properly.But it does pull my upper arm muscles though, so I only scythe for an hour or so, and then I stop. Hopefully my arms muscles will get stronger, but either way I do find scything addictive whereas I dislike strimming very much.