Our scything journey began in 2005. Penniless but keen, we managed to get a place on a Scythe Course being run 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 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 providing mulch for the garden. We also make hay by hand, mowing about 6 acres of conservation hay meadow every year.
Peter has not been to Britain for a many years now, but the scythe renaissance goes from strength to strength. Philip is one of several people teaching scythe courses in the UK. The West Country 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.
Why do we love the scythe?
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 a versatile tool, ideal 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…