Some sections of the internet have been buzzing about a youtube video of a Scythe vs Strimmerrace. (The scythe wins if you don’t want to go and watch it). Then there are the scythe competitions – some people can mow really fast! And with a good quality cut too.
But it is ok to be slow. I was listening to an podcast of the BBC Radio 4 show “The Educators”, in which the presenter and the guest, Jo Boaler, were discussing maths. Jo was saying that children need to explore maths in an un-pressured environment, going as slow as they wish, before they are exposed to time pressured environments such as exams where they are expected to perform quickly.
This reminded me of what we say to participants on our scythe courses. When you are beginning with the scythe, the most important thing is to get the mowing action right, so that your body is comfortable and the cut is of good quality.
Often that means people need to mow slowly to begin with, with attention and thought. We start people off in short grass so they can really see what the blade is doing, even if they are cutting nothing. As the body learns the movements and they begin to feel natural it is possible to speed up whilst still maintaining a quality cut and an action that is kind on the body.
The same is true of sharpening. It looks very flashy when someone sharpens quickly, the stone whipping down the blade fast with a satisfying ringing sound to boot. But for many people it is better to learn by sharpening slowly, concentrating on holding the stone at the correct angle to get a good result. Before long, the wrist holds the stone at the correct angle with little conscious thought and the whole process can be speeded up with no loss of quality.