We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I cannot imagine mowing an entire hayfield with a scythe, but they are excellent tools once you get the hang of the rhythm and the motion, especially for steep or hard-to-reach places. If you sharpen the blade.
We always had a foot-pedal-driven sharpening wheel, with an oil can on top. Handy for sharpening anything. Easy to get kids to do the foot-pedaling for a few minutes.
"The Marugg grass scythe proves itself an excellent tool. It is the most satisfying hand tool that I have ever used. In tough grass it cuts a little less uniformly than the power scythe. In all other ways, in my opinion, it is a better tool because, it is light, it handles gracefully & comfortably even on steep ground, it is far less dangerous, it is quiet & makes no fumes, it is much more adaptable. In rank growth one narrows the cut & shortens the stroke. It always starts - provided the user will start. Aside from reasonable skill & care in use, there are no maintenance problems. It requires no fuel or oil. It runs on breakfast. It's cheaper to buy than most weed eaters & is cheaper to use than any other power mower. And best of all it's good exercise."
Berry wrote a short story titled The Good Scythe.
As for me, I suffer from a decadent weakness for power tools and power equipment - anything that uses gas or electricity - but I am sure Berry is right. I do have two large patches on the farm that require a scythe. One is too steep for the tractor, and one is too muddy for the TR or the tractor. A stuck-in-the-mud heavy machine is no fun at all. A TR on a very steep slope makes for dangerous slapstick, but I've done it a few times.
My Mom still reminds me about how much her Dad - a businessman, Polo player, sailer, fisherman, skiier, hunter and shooter, Poker-player, Scotch-drinker, cigar-smoker, and a good pal of mine - loved to clear his head with a few hours of scything each weekend on the farm. Followed by a few hours of riding over hill and dale. My Mom does not approve of my affection for power tools (unless I am doing something she wants done). I miss the guy, dead from an MI at 63.
He made the most of the time he had, which was and is an inspiration to me. A Congregationalist Protestant, in his will he gave his field next to his house to the RC Church which had wanted to purchase it for a new church, and left them his house for a parish house.
During the War, he made that field into a large Victory Garden with a large chicken coop, and raised cattle on the Farm (and kept his - and my Mom's - horses at the farm too. Big Hunters). My family tradition is to always have some land somewhere, whether for survival or for pleasure.
Great tool and article. A few challenges that currently inhabit the American culyure with regard to this impliment.
"It always starts - provided the user will start. Aside from reasonable skill & care in use, there are no maintenance problems. It requires no fuel or oil. It runs on breakfast. Itís cheaper to buy than most weed eaters & is cheaper to use than any other power mower. And best of all itís good exercise."
1. It always starts ..that means someones got to get off the sofa,as the author pointed out.
2. maintenance? ..just take a look inside the microwave in your workplace lunchroom..enough said.
3.Breakfast? An Coke and a moonpie?
4 cheaper... so you're living in a $300,000 home and you're gonna let your neighbor see you with one of these..he'll think it's Holloween..better to hand it to Gomez the illegal and let him do it.
5.Exercise.."Honey, where's the remote?"
I have one. It was in an old barn on my little 5 acres of orchard I owned back in the 70s when I lived in Edinburg. No not Scotland, south Texas. Got a split in that bentwood handle though, courtesy of my son when he was about 10 and decided to harvest some weeds. Little turd--I'm still mad.
I once saw an attractive and well dressed Austrian woman scything a steep hillside of a hay crop. I had never seen such speed and skill in the use of any manual tool. Until I saw her, I had no idea what a scythe can do.
A scythe is an excellent symbol for why 90% 0f the population once had to live on farms. No matter how skillful a person is with it, you just can't cover many acres. How would you like to have to scythe wheat, knowing that the quantity of bread you would eat in the next 12 months would depend upon on hard and fast you could work?
People who find the scythe overly tiring are either in poor physical shape, aren't using the right technique, or it isn't properly fitted to their height and arm length. If you feel it in your arms you aren't letting your torso twist and do the work.
American style scythes are known for being more labor intensive (and require more of a stooping motion) than the European type, but none should be overly hard to use, at least for half an hour or so. If the tool doesn't feel balanced, something is wrong and you need to watch some videos or get trained.