Mowing Reed in Norfolk

At the end of January Phil and I travelled to the winter meeting of the Scythe Association (SABI). This year the meeting was hosted by Richard Brown in Norfolk. As well as attending to the business of the Scythe Association the group spent two enjoyable sessions mowing in the wetland nature reserve that Richard helps manage.View over The Saltings
Called “The Saltings”, the approximately 8 hectare reserve is dominated by common reed. Areas of reed are cut annually to maintain a diversity of age and cover and therefore a diversity of habitat. While some areas are cut in rotation at intervals of several years, the area we helped cut is mown annually using scythes.

Attaching bow 1Simple willow cradleAttaching bow 2Before we went out to mow we all equipped our scythes with a simple willow or hazel cradle. The reed is very tall and the bow is needed to catch and carry the tall reed as it is cut and deposit it in a neat windrow to the left of the mower.

With a strong ditch type blade the stiff reed was very enjoyable to cut and the group soon cleared a sizeable area. It was great to have the opportunity to do a couple of good mowing sessions so early in the year, and with good company too.
Mowing Reed in NorfolkMowing reedSharpening in the reedsReed cutting - progress

2 thoughts on “Mowing Reed in Norfolk

  1. That does sound an interesting way to start the year and in a beautiful south-eastern area. Does the fitting of the bow and subsequent removal have an adverse effect on the snath’s longevity?

    1. No, I don’t think the bow will have any effect on the snath.

      The bow is attached to an L shaped bracket at the bottom, which simply slips in the clamp between the blade and the snath and is held in place by tightening the clamp. You do need to watch that you do not adversely effect the relationship of the blade to the snath though, eg by putting the bracket to one side in the clamp, which can rotate the angle of the blade tang in relation to the snath (“side wedging”) and effect how it then mows.

      The top is tied on, using existing holes and fixing on the snath, tarred string holds the knots well and makes it easy to get tight and then subsequently remove.

      With the set up we used there are no extra holes or permanent fixings added to the snath it’s self. I guess the bow might put some extra strain on the snath, our experience so far is that the bow is more likely to break if put under too much stress rather then effecting the snath.

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