Scything in the city

Here is a lovely little animation featuring some mini urban scythers. Watch right to the end for a little scythe safety tip.

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Learn to Scythe in 2017

biodynamic-calendarAs Autumn turns to Winter we are already thinking ahead to the Spring and the start of the main scything season.

Our 2017 gardening diary recently arrived through the post and some of the blanks have already been filled with course dates – see here for details, more dates to follow soon.

Learn to Scythe

Learning to Scythe in the sunshine, 2016

Of course before we get to the New Year there is Christmas to think of. An Introductory Scythe Course could make an unusual Christmas gift – gift vouchers are available here.

Or if your intended recipient is already a keen scyther how about a place on a Peening Workshop to help them get more from their scythe?

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Scything on Coast and Country (ITV Wales)

coast-and-countryBack in August we spent an enjoyable day with Andrew from Coast and Country (ITV Wales), talking about scything and hand hay making.

The piece will be going out this Friday 14th October at 8pm on ITV Wales.

If you live outside of Wales, the programme will be available at Coast and Country, Series 4, Episode-17

The part recorded at the Trust starts at 11 minutes and 30 seconds

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Falci Blades and The Scything Handbook

Falci 128 70cm

Falci 128 Trimming blade (70cm)

The 50 cm length of the Falci 128 Trimming blade is now back in stock, as is the 80cm length of the Falci 106 International Meadow blade.

Falci 106 80cm 90cm

Falci 106 International Meadow blade (top -90cm, bottom – 80cm)

scything-handbook_plc-3-juneWe also have received stock of The Scything Handbook from the publishers, which is now available to buy from the book section of the shop. Something to read during the lengthening autumn evenings perhaps?

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The Prince and the Barefoot Mowers

Prince Charles loves scything according to the Daily Mail. In the article, Debs Goodenough, Prince Charles’ head gardener, says:

‘Some people even do it barefoot – although not the prince, I have to stress!

Over the years, Phil has experienced comment and surprise when mowing barefoot out in public. Here at the Trust we both generally choose to mow barefoot when conditions allow.

Bare foot mowing in the meadow

Barefoot mowing in the meadow

Mowing barefoot allows you to feel the ground under your feet much more clearly and how the mowing stroke is adjusting your balance and poise. This awareness makes it easier, for us at least, to work on our mowing technique and develop it to be as efficient and effective as possible.

It also feels nice. On a cool dewy morning I’ll often go out into the field in my boots for fear of cold feet. Within minutes of beginning mowing I have usually kicked off my clumpy boots and am enjoying the feel of the soft, cool damp earth under my feet.

It’s not as dangerous as it sounds either, as your bare feet are well away from the cutting arc of the blade. In fact mowers are unlikely to injure themselves whilst actually mowing; minor injuries are much more likely when sharpening (which is why some people choose to wear gloves, but we can go into that controversy another time…..).

It is possible to injure others with your blade when mowing in groups, so it is important to think about setting up group mowing in a safe and orderly fashion and advise mowers to keep a good distance from those mowing ahead of them. Injuries from scythes are included in these historical records of Everyday Life and Fatal Hazard in Sixteenth-Century England (look for the Discovery of the Month, July 2012 for a particular example). No need to add modern examples! When we are mowing with groups of beginners we advise shoes / boots. As people gain in experience they can choose for themselves what they prefer.

Ants, unhappy after unexpected loss of their roof.

Ants, unhappy after unexpected loss of their roof.

There are a few unexpected hazards to look out for when mowing barefoot. I didn’t notice that I had sliced the top off an ant’s nest until a few minutes later, when a number of angry ants were climbing up my ankles and biting me. I might still have got bitten if I had been wearing footwear, but being barefoot meant they got access to unprotected flesh a lot quicker!

The cut ends of hard stalks can be annoyingly painful to step on, as can plants such as creeping thistle. I would never mow bracken bare foot – the cut ends of the bracken plants can be hard and sharp enough to cut your feet – and a bramble patch is not a wise place to try either.

Working the hay bare foot

In the hay field without footware

Having said that I very rarely hurt my feet when mowing in the meadow, the slow low shuffle your feet take during the stroke seems to protect them. It can be more uncomfortable when going out barefoot to work the hay later in the day – the aftermath left by the scythe can be quite prickly, especially when it is hot and dry. I find my feet toughen up to fairly quickly  and for me the benefits of bare feet outweigh the disadvantages. And if it gets too much there is always the option to slip on a pair of sandals.


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There’s a new scythe book coming…..

scything-handbook_plc-3-juneIt’s called The Scything Handbook.

Author Ian Miller is based on a small homestead in Iowa. The American publishers of the book, New Society say:

“Written by a master of the scythe, professionally trained in Austria, and drawing deeply on research into original German texts, The Scything Handbook brings centuries-old scything techniques into the 21st century.

Detailed illustrations cover scythe assembly, perfecting the stroke, blade selection, honing, peening, and aftercare, as well as background on how scythes are forged. Also covered are the basics of making hay and mulch by hand, and how to grow and harvest gains at the home and homestead scale for self-sufficiency.”

The book is being released in the UK from 22nd September. I’m looking forward to having a look, particularly as Ian will be discussing subjects such as hand hay making and harvesting grains as well as scythe set up and mowing. We will be stocking it in the book section of our shop if you fancy a look too.

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Extra Introductory Scythe Course Added

Learn to ScytheDue to demand, we have decided to offer one more chance to come and learn to mow with us this year.

Our last Introductory Scythe Course for 2016 will be on Wednesday 14th September. See this page to book.

We still have places on the Peening and Sharpening Workshop on Sunday 18th September.

This is a great opportunity to get to grips with the art of peeninPeening a 75cm Profisenseg; both if you are looking for the confidence to take a hammer to your blade for the first time or if you would like to improve your peening skills, maybe moving from the jig to freehand peening.

Knowing how to get your blade really sharp can make your mowing experience even better! See this page to book.

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