Scythe use

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Pink_Carnation, Jul 5, 2006.

  1. Pink_Carnation

    Pink_Carnation Well-Known Member

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    Does anyone use a scythe? Can you tell me what to look for, why you like them or hate them?

    We would be using it for weeds with blackberry vines potetially in the mix.
     
  2. katlupe

    katlupe Off-The-Grid Homesteader Supporter

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    We bought one this year, instead of purchasing a lawn mower. DH uses it to cut our lawn and gives the cuttings to our three horses. They now nicker when he gets it out, which is almost daily.

    He bought a pretty decent one at our local hardware store for around $90.00. The reason he wanted one, was so he wouldn't have to buy gas for a mower, and so he wouldn't have to buy a new lawn mower that wouldn't last for more than a year.

    He looked for one with a long handle so it would have a long swing, as he wanted to cut grass for hay. He says he likes it, even though when he comes in, he's usually hot and his arms are tired. Considering he has 2 bad shoulders and a crushed right elbow, he is still able to use it. He loves not having to inhale the fumes from the mower! Or listen to the noise. You also have to keep the blade sharp and they sell a thing for that too.

    katlupe
     

  3. naturelover

    naturelover Well-Known Member

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    I use a scythe. I have 2, one with an aluminum handle and one with a wooden handle. Both blades are 4 feet long. I think a 3' blade is too short and a 5' blade is too long. Also I would advise trying to find one with a handle that is the right height for you so you don't over-extend the space between your hands on the gripping handles. I prefer the aluminum scythe because it is lighter weight and easier to get a good back and forth swinging action happening without putting as much stress on my body. It's good exercise, but if you aren't accustomed to using a scythe you need to start off using it for short periods at a time then work up to longer periods. For the first couple of days you might find you have stiffness and muscles aching in places that you didn't know you had muscles. :)

    I use them for cutting through really tall grasses that are too tall or tough to use the mower or weedeater on. Then I'll go back afterwards and mow if necessary. If you keep a really sharp edge on your blade at all times you shouldn't have too much trouble slicing through blackberry vines. Just remember to keep it a few inches above the ground because it's really easy to tilt it forward and end up driving the tip of the blade into the ground, and that can cause you to come to a bone-jarring stop that rattles your teeth. Same thing happens if you try to slice through vines that are too thick and it gets stuck half-way through. I prefer a sickle or lopping shears for cutting through thicker vines.
     
  4. JAK

    JAK Well-Known Member

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    I remember reading in an old book that it was getting increasingly difficult to find a good man with a scythe. They were refering to the skill required for cutting a lawn short with a scythe. That would be fun to try. Where is the grim reaper when you need him eh?
     
  5. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

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    After watching the video of these girls using them, and mowing where a weed wacker would break you back to get to, we decided we would invest in one...

    http://www.scytheconnection.com/adp/video/index.html

    We are just learning, so can't offer advice... but there is

    great info on that site..
     
  6. JAK

    JAK Well-Known Member

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    Way cool video.
    I think even lawn work might not be so bad with a little practice.
    Close enough for the girls I go out with anyways.
     
  7. FarmboyBill

    FarmboyBill Well-Known Member Supporter

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    havnt used one since i was a young man. Itall get u in shape if it dosent kill y first. The short blade is for brush, the next up is for grass, and the longest is for grain, ie cradle. I think id use one if I was retired and had more time. Once I start the Cub with the belly mower, I mow everything it can reach, same thing with the push mower. I hog down what is tall. i do agree that I dont like the noise either, nor the vibratrion. Just remember, keep feet out of the way, create a walking/swinging rythem, keep the toe up and the heel down, and you should have good luck. Id establish a suitable rythem and feel for using it on already mowed grass, so i can see that the blade is skimming the grass straight across, and that the minds eye can take it all in and program that so that when your using it in tall stuff, you dont need to look for what the blades doing, just look in your mind for what felt right when on the lawn or whatever. Make sure nobodys in front or to the right side of you when swinging. There sharp. Dont buy one without buying the sharpening hammer and anvil for it, and KNOW how to use it
     
  8. MaineFarmMom

    MaineFarmMom Columnist, Feature Writer

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  9. caberjim

    caberjim Stableboy III

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    I love my scythe. I have the short brush blade and have been using it to clear out nasty, overgrown briar infested pasture just so the goats can get into it to eat down the rest. Keep the blade sharp and it will mow down anything up to 1" saplings. With the brush blade, I just use a fine metal file to sharpen, rather then the stone. When I'm going thru dense brush, I put the file to it every 10-15 minutes, particularly the tip - the tip must be sharp. Doesn't take much time or effort to hone the blade and it makes all the difference. It does take some practice to get the feel for the swing and the rythmn, but once you have it, you can do lot of damage to underbrush in a short amount of time without much effort or strain.
     
  10. Ed K

    Ed K Well-Known Member

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    Pink,

    I use one and am totally in love with it. Stringtrimmers are terrible compared to this tool.

    What you should look for is a European style scythe rather than the typical US pattern. The European ones are much lighter and more effective. Check out www.scythesupply.com for lots of information. You should also pay attention to proper adjustability so you can set it up to work best for your body.

    I like them because they're silent and good exercise and effective. The really won't strain your arms or shoulders when you use them because the motion you should be using is a rhythmic twisting at the waist not a golf swing type hacking with the arms.

    Weeds will be fine. Blackberries if large can be a little tricky since it's possible that they may fall toward you and/or prickle you but if you remove them when they're smaller you should be OK.

    I can't say enough good things about a well fitted scythe. It's as well thought out of a hand tool as has ever been made in my opinion.

    If you're thinking of getting one read David Tressemer's book The Scythe Book Get the second edition if you can. It's available through Scythe Supply too.

    Best Wishes
     
  11. stormwalker

    stormwalker Well-Known Member

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    I learned to use the scythe in a hayfield in New Hampshire. That was tough work, but I got the rhythm of it and became pretty effective with it!
    I think learning to work the scythe on bramble is going to be more difficult.
    I hope you have some tough pants!
    Good luck!
     
  12. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    i always had difficulty using them. i don't think i had the blade sharp enough. it would tend to pull and not cut.
     
  13. Pink_Carnation

    Pink_Carnation Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all the info. Mostly the scythe will be for dh. As for the blackberries they must be on steroids so a certain amount of them getting us happens with anything we use.
     
  14. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I use a scythe. I'm almost 5' tall, so that should tell you how easy it is to use. If your back hurts after using it, you are not doing it right. Although mine was measured to fit me, my 5' 7" husband can also use it without causing strain. I second the European design.