Richard’s scythe workshop
The management and aftercare of sown meadows is absolutely essential for maintaining flowering interest and balance between grasses and wild flowers. The most important part of this management is mid-summer mowing to cut and remove vegetation after peak flowering. Traditionally this would involve the use of scythes to take a hay crop.
This photograph of Richard's workshop features in our new 2016 catalogue. It shows the large collection of tools old and new Richard has amassed in his quest to find the best tools for the task of meadow management and to be able to recommend these to people who create their own small to medium sized meadows using Emorsgate seeds.
Initially Richard tried using a variety of vintage old English scythes, including one he inherited from his great grandfather. These are the scythes with the curved snaths (handles); there is a group of them in the left corner and one hanging on the right (plus a vintage Scottish pattern scythe). He also tried a variety of grass hooks and sickles which can be seen on the ledge.
Old English scythes are generally difficult to use. The main reason for this is that they are mainly built for past generations of workers who were significantly shorter in stature (like Richards great grandfather, who he calculates must have been around 5ft 2" tall). These simply cannot be adjusted for efficient use by taller people; their handles are too short. Grass hooks can work but are hard, back straining work, not recommended for more than the smallest meadow patch.
Regular lawn mowers are not up to the job of cutting long meadow grass. Richard tried using a hedge trimmer but burnt out its motor. He finds strimmers and petrol brush cutters both unpleasant to operate and inefficient.
Richard finally found the best solution to mowing his own meadow in 2007 when he discovered the efficient new light weight scythes being imported to Britain from Austria (the scythe with straight snath in centre main photo and below). He now enthusiastically promotes their use and we now we offer scythe kits you can purchase through our website.
The other meadow tools which are useful to have are pitch forks and hay rakes for turning and collecting cut grass and hay. Pitch forks are still widely sold in garden and hardware stores. Good rakes are not so easy to come by so we also offer traditional rakes for sale through our website.
Also in the main workshop photo you can see a variety of other tools such as seed fiddle and trough for sowing seeds (we offer a modern version of this seed broadcaster) and benches for maintaining blades (peening) or making snaths (a shave horse). Richard offers courses and training in the use and maintenance of scythes.
Posted on 07 March 2016,