Scythe work

We have been a bit alarmed at the rate of growth in the orchard. The docks are already threatening to get way out of hand, and it’s only April. In September last year we sowed a special grass clover ley, with a mix of many grass species, a high proportion of clover, and a few wildflowers. I’ve been pretty sure it’s still there somewhere, but this has been more a matter of faith than anything else, because what it looks like underfoot is chickweed, speedwell, docks and old lumps of grass leftover from the old ley.

When planning the orchard, I had a vague, possibly romantic, notion, that we would manage the grass (and weeds) around the trees and soft fruit with a scythe. But faced with the immediate reality of all that grass and all those weeds and only a dim recollection of how to actually do scything, a growing feeling of panic was setting in.

Happily, I am panicking no longer.

Thanks to a bespoke scything masterclass with the really knowledgeable Al Inglis last week, we are now armed and dangerous. (But only if you’re a dock or bit of grass).

We both started our lesson eager to learn, but quickly feeling like this apparently simple scything action was just so complicated. Too many things to think about at once; frustration deepening as the tip of the scythe stuck in the ground again, whilst the grass remained unscathed.

And then we both experienced the amazing feeling when it works; when the grass falls down in neat swathes, when there is rhythm and flow, and nothing can stop you.

We should definitely still be wearing L plates. There’s a lot still to learn, and probably plenty that will yet give us cause to stop, and work around, and wonder why. But it’s a bit like riding a bike; we’ve got the feel of it now.

Managing the grass in the orchard with a scythe is starting to look like it’s not at all a romantic notion, but in fact an entirely practical reality.

It was almost with a feeling of glee that I posted off our order form yesterday to the amazing Scythe Shop. We are buying our very own brand new mini scythe blade, which is designed for working in tight spaces around trees and bushes. Thanks to my sister and parents we’ll also soon have a snath (that’s the whole wooden handle piece) and two larger blades arriving on long term loan.

Watch out docks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *