THE SCYTHES ARE OUT!

While every uber-shed in the countryside contains a ride-on mower, in contrast our equipment of choice is the sycthe.

Edward Budding invented the lawnmower in Stroud just a mile from here, a machine that would put gangs of skilled scythemen out of work the world over. And so scything today is a relic craft. One we are slowly re-discovering, through skill sharing, self teaching and YouTube videos.

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Sharpening stones are out for honing the blades. Fingers are feeling the burr and gingerly checking for ‘keenness’. It has been sunshine and heavy showers but Nigel has managed to get the job done with some helping hands.

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Why do we scythe? – to avoid chopping up the insect population, huge numbers of crickets and grasshoppers here. Our petrol mower cannot manage waist high grass. The key to good wildflowers is annual cutting and removal of hay to leave low fertility conditions.

When? – from early August onwards having given the wildflowers, especially the orchids time to set seed.

With what? – a Simon Fairlie standard Austrian scythe with wooden handle and 60 cm steel blade. (he is Mr Scythe in the UK).

The hay? – gets placed 15cms deep in wide circles around the bases of trees and hedge plants as a feeding mulch mat.

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Then? – once the hay is off we use the mower to run over the meadow and these grass clippings are picked up and used as mulch in the garden.

And then I need a cup of tea and a long lie down!

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