How Scything Will Change Your Life

by: EJ on 06/29/2017

There are many sounds of summer, but with a scythe, the sound of a mower does not need to be one of them! Today's blog entry is an excerpt from Ian Miller's book, The Scything Handbook: Learn How to Cut Grass, Mow Meadows and Harvest GrainBe sure to download the excerpt at the end of the blog explaining all the different ways a scythe can come in handy! 

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Imagine a town or suburb where nobody has a lawn mower. Walking along on a Saturday morning, from time to time you hear the sound of a whetstone being dragged across metal, a bit like a knife being sharpened, but duller, softer. Later in the day, you walk by again and see cut grass spread evenly across lawns and the occasional haycock, proudly displayed in the front garden, destined for pets and livestock, mulch for the garden or the compost pile. 

Now imagine a cluster of small farms where nobody has a tractor. On most days during the growing season, farmers wake up to milk their animals and move them along to the next paddock. But first, before the morning dew has evaporated, they grab their scythes, hone them and do an hour or so of mowing before spreading the grass out to cure and collecting some for the animals to munch on during milking.

That evening the farmers hang the grass up on a quadripod or Swedish-style wirerack so that water is shed should it rain. In a week or two, depending on the weather, the finished hay is loaded onto a cart and dumped into the hayloft in the barn, to be dropped down to livestock as needed over the winter.

Author using scythe

In midsummer, a patch of small grains, maybe up to 1 acre (0.4 ha) or so, is cut, bound and stooked by these farmers, now working together, then threshed and winnowed a few weeks later with a treadle-powered thresher they chipped in to buy together. Undersown grasses and clovers then take over the patch, returning it to meadow. Animal impact, mostly from pigs, establishes the seedbed in the next acre of meadow for the following year’s crop of small grains. 

The scythe and the techniques involved with it come from traditional Alpine farming, which is based on local production for local needs. It improves the soil, increases biomass, prevents erosion and makes for extremely high-quality foods. It involves meaningful work that is creative, challenging and invigorating. In an age where climate change is upon us, the scythe is a technology that is relevant and useful to us all.

At this point, you might think that if it is so easy and pleasant to make hay and grow grains yourself, why aren’t more people doing it already? One explanation is the ubiquitous assumption that the latest, most high-tech solution is necessarily the best one. But, for example, the existence of cars doesn’t mean that bicycles are irrelevant. Both are forms of transportation, yet they meet completely different needs. Replacing your lawn mower with a scythe is much like the experience you may have when choosing to ride your bike to work: exhilaration, rejuvenation and increased energy and confidence.

 

Click here to download tips on ways to use a scythe

Remember receive a 35% discount on all New Society titles when you order by June 30th.

 

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