Thursday, February 28, 2013

"When peak oil comes, what else will there be to do but scythe dance?"

That's what Pearl said when we watched the incredibly earnest but incredibly sweet and inspiring DVD that accompanied our very own scythe.
Yes, a few months ago I got a really big, exciting present in the mail. It's taken us a while to fully get into the scything business, on account of all the house-building and garden making that's been going on for us, but believe me: we're making up for lost time.
I can't remember when exactly I decided that I wanted to scythe, but man am I pleased I made that decision. It is such a quiet, gentle exercise that results in a nice, not crazily overgrown orchard, and massive piles of mulch - perfect for mulching the fruit trees in said orchard, and providing a playground for the guinea pigs.

And a crappy day at work simply melts away to the gentle swish swish of the scythe.

The scythe itself was purchased from Scythes Australia - regenerative farming people, fermentation enthusiasts and importers of Austrian scythes which are hand-forged in a factory that's been making scythes since 1540. Excuse me if that's not cool.
It's an amazing piece of equipment, made all the more so, I think, by the ancient-ness of its design. Scythes have history, and they also have culture. They even have counter-culture, in that back to the land-er hippies like us, and a few other people around these parts, are extremely enthusiastic about scythes and what they can do and also what they represent.
We got a scythe starter kit, which has a multi-purpose blade - good for mowing but also good for slightly woodier weeds - in our case fleabane and purple top and small scotch thisles. When the scythe is sharp (which it usually is because I stop and sharpen it with the whetstone every 3-5 minutes) it doesn't take much to slice those buggers down. VERY satisfying.
Honing with the whetstone. The whetstone comes with a very fashionable copper holder that clips onto your belt. HOT.
The years-old over-the-knee kikuyu grass is a little more taxing, but I can tell you absolutely 100% it is still easier and quicker with the scythe than with the brushcutter, and you don't have to wear earplugs. And the cut grass doesn't end up all over the place! The scythe just puts it in this neat little windrow - without me even trying! You can see that in this super-cool video:
The scythe came with an awesome DVD, which was about a tiny-house-dwelling hippie family in Canada who make scythes and are generally enthused about the scythe-related lifestyle (low-impact, relaxed and quiet). As I watched it, I felt like I was being born-again into some kind of religion. I became an overnight scythe-zealot! Not that I'm pushing the scythe revolution necessarily, but I can assure you that when I come home from work (or when I wake up in the morning or if I just have a few spare moments...) scything the orchard is a fun and rewarding and relaxing and energising kind of thing to do for a few minutes or hours. No petrol, no stink, no hideous noise that scares ducks, chickens and children alike.

Oski honing his hoe with the whetstone. Never too young to hone, I say...

1 comment:

  1. I bought a scythe kit from the same people, only I got the bush blade. It's nice and thick and heavy, which is what I needed for our weedy roadside verge.

    I agree with you - it's so much easier cutting established kikuyu with a scythe than with a brushcutter. It's peaceful and quiet, and you don't come inside with millions of tiny bits of chopped grass all over your body. I also got to meet a few more neighbours, who stopped to check out the weird guy with the medieval implement as they drove past!