Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Scythe

Well, it looks like we won't get a third cutting after all. The weather has been too cool and damp, there is fear that it won't dry. The neighbors had cut their alfalfa field, and it didn't dry down well at all. Plus, the field is growing back slowly. Parts are knee high, but others are only maybe 5 inches. The mower wouldn't even reach those parts.

Still, I hate to see those knee high parts go to waste. I got out the scythe.

Here, go watch this video . Everything I am about to say will make much more sense. Plus, it's really cool. It is kind of long, but totally worth it. Pay particular attention to the quote at the end.

Does that girl rock the scythe or what?

I can't make the scythe sing like she does. Yet, anyway. Nor do I mow barefoot wearing a white skirt. I also don't twirl it about my head. I'm not at all like her.

The scythe is a recent addition to my collection of tools. Mowing around here is difficult. If she is up, Mom tries to follow me around when I get the riding mower out. If she is inside watching tv or still in bed, then I can get outside, but I can't use a power mower because I can't hear the monitor.

This is a European scythe, much lighter than the American version.

Here's the business end, along with my sharpening stone and holder. You fill the holder with water to keep the stone wet. Not too much though, otherwise you wet your pants whenever you bend over.

This was my first attempt yesterday. I couldn't mow a straight line to save my life. It isn't cut evenly either. I have to work on my swing. I find myself wanting to operate it like a rake, raising it up at the end of the swing. Keep it on the ground, fool! I also need to lower my stance and follow through on the swing.

I went out this morning to try again. It is raining on and off, and actually that is perfect weather because the blade runs through the grass smoother.

Here is the second row. Still not straight, but the cut is more even, I think. I already raked up the grass and put it in my garden cart, so you can't see the windrow that it left. I forgot to take a photo of the amount of grass this was, I already fed it to the animals. It was a pile about two feet by four feet by two feet high. It only took maybe 10 minutes to cut, another 10 to rake and pile it in the cart, and another 5 to give it to the animals.

As I was mowing this morning in the rain, I thought, this is like spinning. The rhythm, the coordination of feet and hands, and the soothing sound of the blade running across the top of the ground through the grass. Meditative. I can hear the monitor, so I know Mom is safe. I enjoyed it very much.

The quote at the end of the video? Ghandi. He was a vocal proponent of spinning, and was a spinner himself. Mowing and spinning, who knew?

Speaking of using the hands, I am going to be doing spinning demonstrations at my friend's Threshing Bee in St. Charles this weekend. If you're fairly local, come on down. There will be all kinds of demonstrations, blacksmithing, steam engines, a saw mill, antique tractors, spinners, knitters, weavers. All kinds of things. A bluegrass jam Saturday night. All that and more. Just head to St. Charles and ask. Anybody can point you in the right direction.

Now please make this rain go away for the weekend!

Oh, and have my fellow caregivers heard about this? This is a snippet from an e-mail I received.

"The Copper Ridge Institute, affiliated with The Johns Hopkins University, is a leading provider of dementia research, care and education. The Institute has developed the first training resource of its kind for caregivers, providing a step-by-step method for caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease. Available as a DVD and webcast, the FREE program ( recreates many of the daily situations that caregivers may encounter and provides coaching for each of these activities based on best practices developed by The Copper Ridge Institute."

I haven't checked it out yet, but thought it might be of interest to others.


Julie said...

Okay! Why am I thinking this would be a really cool way to leave "crop circle art" in the field to impress the city folk? Or maybe create a summer camp for city people and have the next greatest thing after Pilates?

cornbread hell said...

that is a great video. and a Very great post. you're still my hero. (shero?)

Cindy said...

I am sometimes annoying in my love for the "old ways". There was a method and rythmn to almost all chores and we are no longer taking the time to feel it. Good for you. And, the caregiver program? I am so checking that out! Thanks!
P.S. I am guessing this is St. Charles, MN and not St. Charles, MO?

LostInCO said...

Wonderful Post! I wonder if that is why the girl in the video went in circles? easier to do than straight lines?? I love the quote at the end.

Annie said...

Crop circle art...just think what Mom could do with a scythe. Um, maybe not.

Rick, thanks. I've not been called a hero (or a shero) before.

Cindy, yes, MN, not MO. Dang it.

Lostinco, I think she started going around the tractor/combine/I didn't look close at the machine to tell what it was. Generally, you do go in a clockwise direction around the field, assuming right handedness, because the windrow falls to the left, over what you have already mowed. If you did it the other way, the windrow would fall on part that still needs to be mowed.

JudyP613 said...

Wonderful stuff Annie, you've got me watching and studying this video like I'll be tested on it later.

J said...

I did a bit of catch up reading and saw the fleece... O my how pretty! It was so white it seemed to have a silver shine to it.
I remember my granpa using a scythe to cut weeds behind the barn and then bring them to feed to his hogs.
I'm going to check out the care givers site when I have time that I can concentrate.

rilera said...

That video is awesome! She can really use that scythe. I am going to try to plan to come see you and your mom one of these weekends. I wish I could go to the threshing bee but duty calls. Have fun this weekend.

flintysooner said...

When I was a child we still used scythes. For a long while we had my grandfather's but I don't know if we still do or not.

I can tell you that it is a whole lot harder to use the scythe than it looks like. I am really glad nothing depends upon me using one now.

Great post.

MJ said...

That Scythe-woman must have abs and arms of steel!

Annie said...

MJ, just think how ready I'll be to go canoeing! Quetico 2010?

MJ said...

You'll be paddling, and I'll be in the barcalounger (e.g., leaning back against the Duluth pack) eating bon-bons! hehehehe.... 2010 it is! Get scything!