[Homestead] Fuel price perspective
Clansgian at wmconnect.com
Clansgian at wmconnect.com
Sun Jun 1 10:17:11 EDT 2008
> >Husband almost
> threw out his back in the process of using it, he never quite got the hang
> of it, though if/when a gallon of gas becomes $10+ we'll have more
Gas could be free and I'd still use a scythe. The only IC engines on the
place now are the truck and van. I rigged a snath with a short drop forged
'brush blade' and used a coarse mill file to set an edge on it with the result that
the edge is mico-serrated. It is used to clean out around fences, posts,
bushes etc. It is faster and cleaner cutting than a string trimmer and is less
effort to use.
There are all around the place strips and wedges of grass in odd places,
beside the road, between garden or grain areas, in the orchard, in the bee yard.
They have some of the best grass on the place. In an oddment of time one can
mow such a plot down with the scythe, then turn it with a fork, then rake it
and add it to the closest haystack. Each operation only takes minutes. Each
plot can be cut at its peak and often can be cut three or four times a year.
The cumulative effect is that it adds two or more tons of hay to the winter
supply from sources that could not be made use of at all with a tractor.
I think I ran across some YouTube clips showing good scythe technique.
Almost no one I encounter is scything anything close to a productive motion. Did
you ever see PBS series 'Frontier House' in which three families lived for half
a year as they did in 1880 to see how well they would be perpared to survive
the winter? The family from Tennessee, by the bye, was the only one deemed to
have prospects of surviving. Alas, the family itself didn't survive!
Anyway, they were coached by "experts" as to everyday living skills of the time but
as we watched the series (taped for us by relatives) we were constantly
quipping "That's not how it's done!!" For example, in order to keep the families
from killing themselves with draft horses, an "expert" did all the driving for
them. Said expert hitched a pair to a plow and the commentary was "See how
these modern misfits would have fared! They can't even plow ten feet!" But
that is because the moron driving the horses had them going WAY too fast,
stepping up too abruptly with the result of pulling the plow out of the ground. It
was the wrong kind of plow too. They were attempting to plow sod without a
Likewise the commentary was how hard it was to put up hay for the winter with
a scythe. Sure enough each mower was lofting the scythe and attempting to
hack the grass into submission. Hard work, that? You bet! Why not tie a
couple of cinder blocks to your boots for good measure!
It takes conditioning and effort to mow with a scythe to be sure. But not
all that much if it's done with a proper scythe properly sharpened and done with
anything approaching a reasonable technique. When I'm teaching someone to
mow with a scythe, and this has actually happened a number of times, the first
couple of hours are a constant droning chant of "Put the scythe back on the
ground, put the scythe back on the ground."
You don't pick the scythe up. The right hand grips on the backswing and
relaxes on the cutting swing. The left grips lightly on the cutting swing and
relaxes on the back swing so neither arm or hand fatigues. That is, on the
cutting swing, the left hand supplies the power with the right hand acting as the
fulcrum of a first class lever. On the back swing the right hand supplies the
power with the left hand acting as the fulcrum of a third class lever.
Gripping both handles and muscling the blade scythe through the grass would exhaust
the most fit in five minutes, hence the myth that mowing with a scythe is
backbreaking work of the first degree. The sharpness does the cutting, not your
back. It looks more like dancing or tai chi than hard labor.
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