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-   -   Scythe mowing (http://www.wildlifegardeners.org/forum/tools-supplies/11627-scythe-mowing.html)

rockerBOO 05-14-2013 08:22 AM

Scythe mowing
I have been looking over what would be good for managing meadows without needing a large mower.

Managing 3000sq ft meadow which is probably semi-typical to a suburban meadow. I usually hear about needing to mow it once a year and the options were somewhat limited. Getting a large brush mower seems like overkill for such a small area and having to go and rent and lug around a giant mower didn't seem that practical to me.

So I thought about how they manage the alpine meadows you see in the pictures, and they use/used scythes, so decided to look into it more.

Now I have ordered a scythe, and will be planning on trying to mow my small yard (1000 sq ft at the moment), and the meadows I manage (6000sq ft, 3000sq ft). Should be an experience.

Anyone have any experience with scythes?

linrose 05-14-2013 09:15 AM

We did use scythes to manage a small grassy area before, you really need good upper body strength and good body mechanics to use one. Somehow the regular back and forth swaying motion is very zen-like. It helps if you sing a song in your mind to go along with the rhythm of the motion. I guarantee you'll develop some good deltoid, trapezius and pectoral muscles!

Helianthus 05-14-2013 09:57 AM

I use a sickle
I haven't used a scythe, but I do regularly use a sickle in my yard. Using it along with a push reel mower I can keep the yard mowed without using gas.

It's a workout, though, and my forearm is sore most of the time in spring until I can build up the muscles again.

I recommend reading all of Frost's many poems about mowing for some inspiration!!

linrose 05-14-2013 11:46 AM

Helianthus, I think sickles are even harder to use than scythes, it's mostly in the arm with sickles and there's less control.

Now that I think back on our younger lives we used a lot of manual tools to do work both in and outdoors. Have you ever used a two-man saw? We actually cut two cords of wood a year with it in Maine (we called it a "two-person saw") and that really build both muscles and a cooperative relationship with the person on the other end of the saw! Of course after that came the splitting, I did some but had terrible aim!

Then we used a draw knife to shave wood down when you didn't need a plane. A miter box and a back saw served to make trim around doors and windows.

I think our first power tool was a drill although I still have my dad's hand drill. Then it must have been a chainsaw because we always lived in the country and needed one. We cleared our first house lot with that crappy chainsaw when I was 8 months pregnant. What an idiot I was now that I look back on it.

There's a certain loveliness about hand tools, now that we are older we appreciate power drills, saws, mowers etc. because our bodies are not what they used to be. We've since left the two-person saw, sickle and scythe behind in one of our many moves but still have the draw knife.

I'll have to check out Frost's poems about mowing. Using hand tools surely lends itself to poetry.

liquidambar 05-14-2013 12:54 PM

Yeah! When you get older and over do - when you get up in the morning and roll out of bed; the bottom of your feet are so sore that they don't want to touch the ground. No matter how much you build up in the summer -it makes them worse not better.

Oh course I think I got this condition at a very YOUNG AGE so it can happen to any one at any age. :oncrutches
But you must be Very, very young RookerBoo to even consider a hand tool.

There are tons of stuff to mow with though that are out there; that are not so big as a bushhog, and can still take on some very high weeds that you allowed to grow up over the summer . Some you can push and walk; some attach as a pull behind a lawn mower or a tractor.

Linrose 8 months pregnant -- Only the foolish young are allowed to have children-- whew - my hubby put me on a motorcycle to learn how when I was 8 month pregnant. I protested but still did it and of course wrecked it. I have since grown an back bone of steel with him.

linrose 05-14-2013 01:24 PM

Yeah liquid, we were young and foolish. The builder told us we could save $100 if we cut all the trees to clear for the house. I actually tugged on a rope to pull a tree toward me to make it fall in the right direction. So young, so foolish!

We were really smart to stain the whole house ourselves which saved us another $200. Doh!

A friend of mine got a DR brush mower which is a walk behind. He loves it. They also make tow behind mowers for an ATV or garden tractor. We have a back field, about 2 acres, we hire out to brush hog every three years. I've toyed with the idea of getting our own but the investment doesn't pan out for us. Plus the guy ran into a yellow jacket nest last time and I really don't like yellow jackets! I felt like paying him double because he got stung so many times.

liquid, at least I didn't get on a motorcycle at 8 months pregnant, a backbone of steel is really what you need in that situation! I did have my share of motorcycle experiences, but much earlier in my life. Glad you lived to tell the tale!

BooBooBearBecky 05-15-2013 11:27 AM

I cleared the meadow last fall on my riding mower. Now the blades look something ate them up. Seriously, whole chunks of the mower blades are missing. Guess I was a little reckless. Gotta get my mower blades replaced!

As I age, I drool harder over that DR Brush Mower.

linrose 05-15-2013 12:40 PM

BBBB, we have to replace our mower blades every year because we don't really have a lawn and the mower has to chop through sticks and whatnot, especially when we mow the paths through the field. Poor little lawn tractor! We really should have a heavier duty machine.

Equilibrium 05-17-2013 09:45 AM

rocker> What you’re doing totally interests me because…. I tried and…. failed miserably. The phragmites was just too much for me and… the scythe I had was too long for me and the handles weren’t spaced properly for my arms. I definitely got a good work out trying though.... I remember sleeping real good that night after I came inside. My neighbor told me most scythes aren’t made for the 5’4” and under crowd. The scythe I had was bought used. It wasn’t sharpened properly and I didn’t know that which compounded my body aches. I did learn how to sharpen mine though and they do work a lot better when they’re properly sharpened… yours is new so you won’t run into that problem out the gate. You probably know this already but…. we use the same stones to sharpen a scythe that we use to sharpen a hand ax and there is a right and a wrong way to do it… my neighbor taught me but there’s probably a YouTube out there on sharpening them. I think it’s really important getting a scythe that’s sized properly to our bodies so we can get that rhythm going…. if you’re a guy…. you’ll have the advantage of having a better weight distribution than me…. your weight will be in your upper body while mine’s in my lower body. And…. like linrose said…. “you really need good upper body strength and good body mechanics to use one.” A scythe wasn’t the best tool for phragmites or narrow leaf cattails is about all I can say. I think another problem I had was where I was working… in a wetlands. I wore snowshoes which did help me stay upright longer…. I still ended up doing face plants. I ended up getting 1 of these for mother’s day, STIHL Brush Cutters - Professional/Homeowner Use Brushcutters and Clearing Saws | STIHL USA Mobile. They work…. they work well in a wetlands as long as I go out in the dead of winter when they’re frozen over so I don’t sink and lose my work boots…. step in the wrong spot and the wetlands will literally suck the boots right off your feet. So…. brush cutters might be another option if you have problems with the scythe. I wouldn’t buy 1 though without trying 1 out 1st because there’s a trick to using them just like there’s a trick to learning how to use a scythe.
Helianthus> I picked up a few corn scythes…. used. The blades are scalloped for lack of a better way to describe them. I don’t know how to sharpen them…. do you by any chance? I’m growing corn this year and I’d like to give them a spin. Something else that maybe you could help me with, http://www.wildlifegardeners.org/for...-mowers-2.html. I did buy the kit and a grinding compound but…. I have no clue how to use what I bought to sharpen my mower. There was no YouTube…. ;)

linrose 05-17-2013 10:21 AM

equil - I laughed at the mental image of you in snowshoes doing a faceplant with scythe in hand! Sorry!

Those reeds are pretty tough, not tough enough for you though! We have one of those Stilhl brushcutters now too, we got it right after we got the chainsaw. Christmas and birthday presents! We use the saw blade a lot.

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