Scythes

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by moonwolf, Feb 26, 2005.

  1. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    Please discuss your experiences with the hand operated Scythe.
    Be it for weed control, harvesting grain, and why and how you got one (and where?). Is it an indepsenable item that you will continue to use on your homestead or farmstead?
     
  2. fordson major

    fordson major construction and Garden b Supporter

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    we have three scythe's and two sickles.scythe no.1 is aluminum handled with a short brush blade .works well on thistle and burdock. sycthe no2 is a wood handled grass/grain scythe works well in tall grass and sorgum but have not tried grain .this one you can equip with a cradle but do not have one. scythe three is gas powered stihl brush blade and grass blade .all have their place and when we got the gas one thought we would retire the others! wrong!! there is a place for them all if i am heading down field to bring the sheep in then i grab a hand powered one and slice off mullen,thistleor poison parsnip(nasty stuff juice causes boils worse than poison ivey!!) .sheep keep the pasture clear of burdock but some grows in the road side ditch. if there is a lot of cutting i take the stihl though it's the biggest model and gets heavy!!!the to sickles we use around trees .aluminum came from pascals 35 years ago.wood one was a present from our neighbour who got it from his father in saskatchewan and had used it as a kid on thistle in their wheat field!hes 65 so anybodys guess as to where it came from(sears would be my bet) hand sickels were my grand ma's and around forever(may have been great grandfathers).we have found others at the dump and have passed them on to people needing them!
     

  3. milkstoolcowboy

    milkstoolcowboy Farmer

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    MN
    I have four scythes. Three I got from my Dad. One has a Lowden cradle for laying grain in a swath. They all have curved wood snaths and I've got a couple dozen blades for grass, bush, wheat (That's what my dad called it.) and I have left-handed and right-handed blades, as both my Dad and I were left-handed. My Dad was a blacksmith out West before he started farming, so I've got his peening hammers and anvils for sharpening, some whetstones as well and a crate of nibs. The other scythe I have my son-in-law gave me has aluminum blade and snath.

    We never used them for haying or cutting grain because we always had sickle mowers and binders, but I still cut grass and weeds around the buildings and some fences with them. If you know how to use them, you can cut quickly and if you develop a good swing you can do it all day.

    Most people don't know how to fit them, (e.g. where the nibs should be, I like to set the lower nib a little below my waist and the upper nib a coupple inches below my shoulder, they don't know how to adjust the hafting angle (the amount by which the blade tip is below the beard of the blad) and they never adjust the openness of the blade when they move from cutting grass to heavy weeds. Just like other cutting tools, you've got to keep your blade sharp or she won't cut easy.

    I suppose nowadays there is some picture book or video to show you how to practice your swing, but the two things I've seen less experienced people do is either swing down and constantly bury the tip in the ground or at least catch it or swing up and end up basically cutting a little and pulling a lot.

    I don't like straight snaths, and I don't like some of these new lightweight blades, I guess because I'm so used to the heavier blades.

    I sure wouldn't call it indispensable, my kids tell me I should quit using the because they are valuable antiques.
     
  4. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    My experience mirrors that of milkstoolcowboy.

    I find it is much easier and quicker to grab the scythe and do around the barns or along the drive than to get out a string mower. A lot quieter too <G>.

    I've tried cutting hay with them and I can see where you either build up muscles and stamina fast or you won't have much hay put up for the winter.

    I have 2 scythes with curved wood snaths. Bought them at farm dispersion auctions.

    Mike
     
  5. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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  6. Darren

    Darren Still an :censored:

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    My first job out of high school was with the State Road Commission working on a crew that used scythes to cut right of ways. As was mentioned, the blade has to be sharpened correctly and you need the proper swing. If you're chopping at the stuff, you're not doing it correctly. The proper swing is a smooth glide back and forth keeping the blade level to the ground. When the blade is sharp it can seem effortless. I've got two wood handled scythes I use occasionally.

    For the steep hillsides I work on, I can go a lot faster with a gas brushcutter.
     
  7. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We have one. It is sized to me, but my husband uses it more than I do and he doesn't have any trouble with it. If you decide to get one, get a European style rather than American.
     
  8. MaineFarmMom

    MaineFarmMom Columnist, Feature Writer

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    I went to Scythe Supply for mine. I was measured first. After that I tried a couple of snaths and chose my blade. I have a gardener's blade. Richard taught me how to sharpen my blade. Carol taught me how to properly use the scythe. Online or in person, the customer service is excellent. www.scythesupply.com

    I love my scythe. I had been using a gas powered weed whacker. When I had to replace the old with a new one late last summer I ended up with one I can't easily start myself. That limited me to being able to use it to either 6 a.m. before my husband left or 7 p.m. after working hard all day when dh was home to start it for me. Blaring noise and fumes are out of the question at 6 a.m. Between the inconvenience, the noise and the fumes I'd had it with with the weed whacker.

    The best time for me to mow is first thing in the morning while the garden is too wet to work in. The scythe prefers damp grass/weeds. You can do a lot of thinking along with rhythmic swinging while the rest of the farm is still quiet. It's definitely my favorite tool. I'll be buying a bush blade in the spring.