Grass and the Art of Scything
Our scything journey began in 2005. Penniless but keen, we managed to get a place on a Scythe Course being run in Somerset by Simon Fairlie, in exchange for helping out with the UK’s first Scythe Festival the next day.
The course was taught by Peter Vido, a Slovakian by birth who emigrated to Canada where he makes extensive use of the Austrian style scythe on his farm. He wanted to create a “Scythe Renaissance”, so took his skills and enthusiasm on travels around the Scythe Festivals of Europe, in an attempt to make the scythe a common place tool once again.
After an inspirational weekend we went home with a scythe blade from a second-hand tool stall, the knowledge of how to get it back it to working order and make a handle (snath) for it and a lot of enthusiasm.
Now the scythe is truly part of our everyday lives. During the growing season it does sterling work in the garden, keeping the grass paths short and so providing mulch for the garden and NO HIDING PLACE FOR SLUGS!!!!! We have also make hay by hand, mowing about an acre of conservation hay meadow every year and using racks to dry it.
Why do we love the scythe? Unlike its English counterpart, the Austrian style scythe is light and easy to use (once you know how to keep it sharp). It is quiet, requires no petrochemicals to run and it is fun to use. The experience of hearing and feeling your blade cut through a hay meadow just after dawn on what promises to be a hot summers day, with nothing but the birds and flowers for company, is hard to beat.
It is an ideal tool for the small holder, capable of trimming close around trees in your orchard, clearing scrub, cutting the lawn and cutting hay on that field that is too small/steep…
Peter has not been to Britain for a few years now, but the scythe renaissance lives on! Philip is one of several people teaching scythe courses in the UK, and the Scythe festival is an annual event, where scythe enthusiasts and beginners from across the UK gather to share information and, of course, compete in the West of England Scythe Competition.
Philip co-teaches the Teacher’s Scythe Course at the Festival, along with Christiana Lechner from Austria and Simon Fairlie. He has also won the Quality Cup, having gained the top score of 10 for the quality of his scything during the competition in 2011.
For more information on:
Scythe and hay making courses at the Dyfed Permaculture Farm Trust see courses
Buying a scythe see scythes for sale
Peter Vido and the Scythe Renaissance visit www.scytheconnection.com
To see Philip in action at the West Country Scythe Festival 2010 see Scything master class