Pound Your Plowshares into Scythes

I’ve been delving into the world of permaculture. I’m fascinated by the concept – it just “makes sense”, and am looking forward to learning as much as I can about it. Working *with* nature just seems so much more sensible. Look around – read the works of Victor Shauberger, and consider bio-mimickry. The world around, above and beneath us is replete with stunning examples of architecture, symbiosis, and energy.


Peter was thinking of all this when he got me what has to be one of the best birthday presents ever. A scythe.Yes, you read that correctly. A scythe. My mother was, shall we say…puzzled at my obvious delight. But mom! It’s a real, honest to goodness, Austrian-bladed, have to be fitted for scythe. Wayyyy cool. I was fitted for it this weekend (yes, you have to be measured for the proper size scythe) at the NOFA NH winter conference by one of the owners of the scythe supply company, “Scythe Supply”.

Now, mind you, I’ve had scythes before. The kind you get at, say, Agway, or Aubuchon. The kind with a big, clunky steel blade and the unisize handle. I had no idea there was any other option available, and must admit I was terribly disappointed in my rather futile efforts to mow any grass, much less a swath of hay ,with that heavy, unwieldy club of a tool. This new scythe is waay different. LIke, the difference between driving your fathers 1985 Oldsmobile or BUick, and driving a Porsche. Like, wow man.

For starters, as they say in their website, the scythes they sell are ” Light, sharp and effective” It will mow, clear and harvest with ease—while you stand comfortably upright.” OK, I know you are saying ” but why on earth do you want to go through all that sweaty work cutting HAY (and probably lots of it) while you walk in a huge field with a little knife at the end of a handle?” Instead of, say, a tractor with a mower bar, a tedder, a baler and a truck with a hay wagon? Well, remember I mentioned permaculture at the beginning? One of the basic tenets of permaculture is to reduce, and preferably never use fossil fuel. That, I think, is very admirable, and worth looking into. Another concept of permaculture is to tread lightly on the earth. And those big, oil snarfing, exhaust spewing machines that repeatedly compact the soil pollute the air and use up natural resources are not exactly what comes to mind  when I think of harmony with nature.


Check out this video: 

So, yes, I’m probably nuts. But I am very very excited to try it out this spring. If we ever actually see grass growing (as I write this we are about to get another 5″ or so of snow. Blechhh.)  I’ll let Elliot Fishbein, owner of Scythe Supply, sum it up, this is quoted from his website, which I encourage you to peruse. It’s fabulous. “

Why use a scythe?
It’s simply satisfying and fun.
Here’s what appeals to me:

  • This tool does such a good job it makes me smile.
  • The scythe is powered by my own internal combustion. This renewable personal resource produces no fumes (OK, I admit to occasional fumes) or noise and requires no complex machinery.
  • It starts and stops when I want it to. It amplifies my strength but is not more powerful than me.
  • An opportunity to momentarily escape from the modern world.
  • The choice of NOT cutting a flower in the grass. The stroke is infinitely adjustable and sensitive to changing terrain and conditions.
  • Appreciation of the beauty and diversity of tall grass. Allow the grass and wildflowers to bloom and be amazed at the variety coming from that boring homogenous lawn.
  • The rhythmic cutting motion does not have to be stressful. Its patterns can be dance-like and relaxing. There is therapy in this kind of mindful exercise. You are both entertained and rewarded by this labor. This is kinetic meditation.
  • Demonstrating a commitment to environmental responsibility.

That’s a lot from a simple tool.”

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