The Summer of Hay Making Begins.

Orchid in budIt’s a weekend of firsts – we had our first beginners scythe course of the season yesterday and we started the first hay making of the year. Phil also found the first orchids in the hay field.

The first was in bud…….
and the second was starting to open.orchid in the hay field

The beauty of the scythe is that the mower is very aware of the vegetation that is being mown. Once spotted, the subtleness of the tool allows the mower to leave selected plants to flower on. You can see in the second photo how closely Phil is able to cut but still leave the orchid standing.

We will be hay making right through the summer now, in a “little and often” policy that keeps the work manageable and is beneficial for wildlife, with a variety of heights and maturity of vegetation being present at any one time.

This approach was being advocated by Bunny Guinness on Gardeners Question Time today (question starts at 24.30), although with 6 or so acres to mow this year our “small bits” will be bigger then the tenth of half an acre that she is discussing with the questioner!

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Falci Scythe Blades

Falci 106 80cm 90cm

Falci model 106 – 80cm and 90cm

Falci 128 70cm

Falci model 128 – 70cm

Following trials of blades from the Italian Falci scythe factory this spring, we are pleased to offer a limited number of these blades in our shop.

Available for the first time in the UK, these blades have a strong international reputation. See here for the blades on offer. More models may be added as trails continue.

To give you a taster of the blades in action, here is Phil mowing a with a 90cm Falci 106 early yesterday morning.

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Scythe Better!

Scythe festival flier 2016It’s not long now until the Twelfth West Country Scythe Festival. If you are looking to improve your scything skills there is still time to book on the Improvers Scythe Course (10th -11th June) that runs in the lead up to the fair.

An excellent opportunity to improve your scything as well as meet and socialise with the wider UK scything community. Book your place now!

To book, contact Simon Fairlie scythes@myphone.coop tel 01297 561359

 

Why Struggle? 
Learn how to get your blades sharper and to scythe expertly
at the
IMPROVERS’ COURSE
at the
West Country Scythe Fair

Friday 10 and Saturday 11 June 
for
• mowers with some experience who want to develop their skills;
• team leaders managing volunteers or staff;
• people who want to teach scythe use to others.

Over two days, you will get personal attention from three of the most experienced teachers in the UK:
Christiane Laganda, scythe and yoga teacher from Austria;
Phil Batten master peener and scythe competition winner from Scythe Cymru;
and Steve Tomlin author of the definitive scythe manual Learn to Scythe.

The course covers: correct set up of the tool; your mowing stance and style; sharpening, peening and repairing blades; teaching and organizing volunteers and novices.

The venue is at Thorney Lakes. Muchelney, near Langport http://www.thorneylakes.co.uk/
The cost is £125 for individuals, £150 for organizations, £80 concession for unwaged. Meals are provided. Camping on site is available. Includes live Gypsy Jazz from the Gaulois Brothers on Saturday evening.

Nicole Clough of Bucks Berks and Oxon Wildlife Trust who did this course two years ago writes:
I came away with a far deeper understanding of the scythe and my technique, as well as the tools and course structure to teach others in a safe and efficient manner. It has revolutionised our team at BBOWT, and we now use scythes for a great many of our tasks. As a result our management is more wildlife sensitive and volunteer friendly. A number of my colleagues have now also done the course, with more booked on in the future. This has enabled us to train in the region of 50 staff and volunteers across our three counties in just 2 years. Great for wildlife, great for people.

To book, email Simon at scythes@myphone.coop tel 01297 561359

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Peening for the Spring Festival

It’s only 12 days until the Spring Festival (previously the Smallholder Show) run by the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society. We are exhibiting Austrian scythe at the show this year and preparations are in full swing.

Edge peening a styria bladePhil has been peening his way through an impressive pile of blades, preparing them both for the festival and for our first scythe course of the year on 28th May.

If you’re wondering why he is wearing ear defenders, have a look at the video below. While scything is very quiet, peening certainly isn’t. If you do a lot of it you need to look after your hearing!

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Wooden Hay Rakes

wooden hay rakeWe are pleased to be stocking traditional British-made wooden rakes from Rudd’s rake factory in Cumbria. Light and strong they are used for many purpose, including raking gravel, collecting autumn leaves and, of course, haymaking.

Below is a lovely little video that gives a taste of the family firm, and here is where to find them in our scythe shop!

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Spring Beekeeping

warre beekeepingThe appearance of the dandelions, which began a few weeks ago, is the cue to think about the “spring expansion” of our Warré bee hives. Last week’s warm sunny weather was the ideal opportunity to carry out the work. Here is Phil and his beekeeping assistant, wheelbarrow loaded and ready to go.

In Warré hives, expansion is carried out by placing empty boxes underneath the existing boxes of the hive – nadiring. This gives the bees extra space in which to build comb and expand the colony as the spring build up of numbers progresses.

The brighter coloured box on the bottom has been "nadired" onto this kive

The brighter box on the bottom has been “nadired” onto this hive

With the mild winter and reasonably early spring a couple of the colonies were already fully occupying their existing boxes. While Phil lifts the hive, his assistant takes an empty box and places it on the hive floor. The remaining boxes of the hive are then put back on top, all with minimal disturbance to the bees.

To fuel the spring increase in activity bees dilute honey stores with water so they can be consumed . Bees do have a rather odd taste in drinking water though! Many gather water from around the cow house which is heavily flavoured with cow dung, or from pots of compost around the polytunnel.  These bees are delighting in the water in a bucket of rotting garden weeds! Dozens can be seen here when the sun is shining.Bees in a bucket

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Spring Trim

Mowing in the gardn with Falci 128With the lighter mornings there is time to slip in a bit of work before breakfast. Here’s Phil using a scythe to tidy up the grass around the annual veg beds. Another useful opportunity to assess thSharpening Falci 128e Falci Model 128 blade.Falci 128

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