Who Needs a WeedWacker When You Can Use a Scythe?
By Barry Newman, WSJ
With a WeedWacker under his arm, Dan Kowalsky was at work trimming the median strip of U.S. Route 1 in suburban Westport, Conn., when he was asked, above the din: Why not use a scythe?
"You mean that Grim Reaper thing?" he yelled. "Can't get grass nice and short with that thing, nice and perfect."
People who scythe put up with a lot of Grim Reaper cracks. Then again, long-handled, crescent-bladed scythes don't use gas, don't get hot, don't make noise, do make for exercise, and do cut grass.
Which is what Jean-Paul Pauillac, a 55-year-old French chef, was doing a five-minute drive away. "This is my samurai chop," he said in his backyard, swinging a scythe through ankle-deep growth. His neighbors' lawns were cropped like putting greens. "They come to the fence and look," said Mr. Pauillac. "Maybe they think I'm cuckoo."
While Americans persist in cutting grass with labor-saving devices, faithful scythers believe their old tool has plenty of life left in it. In the dozens just 10 years ago, U.S. scythe sales are nearing 10,000 a year now, for a kit that costs about $200. Predictably, scythe buyers are small, green farmers; unpredictably, they are also city folk and suburbanites.
At Marugg Co., which has been selling scythes out of Tracy City, Tenn., since 1873, the typical scythe buyer used to be an Amish farmer or a horror-movie prop master, according to Amy Wilson, the current owner. Now, it's "anybody and everybody," she says. "It makes it difficult for advertising, but still…"
Read more & watch video -- P.S. Never scythe downhill, or that Grim Reaper joke might be à propos.
Brian Kerkvliet of Inspiration Farm in Bellingham, Washington shows off his scythe with a homemade snath.
His side job is not really being the grim reaper.
He sharpens the scythe with a whetstone every ten minutes or so. And every few days he peens the blade.
Brian tells a story of the story of a strapping young lad with a string trimmer competing against a barefoot maiden with a flowing dress and a scythe. And maiden won the 100 yard dash and all of her grass was laid nice and neat while the string trimmer has stuff scattered everywhere.
It takes a little practice to get the hang of using the scythe.
Brian talks about making his own snath or buying a snath.
He talks about how with the string trimmer you have to take it to the shop every spring to get it tuned up; regularly buy string (where does the string go?); the gas mixed with oil; make sure to wear pants because you will get slug parts and other stuff flung at you; annoying the neighbors when they are trying to sleep in.
Brian demonstrates using the scythe on short grass and on tall grass and shows how the cut grass can be left nice and orderly.
music by jimmy pardo
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A 14-year-old girl with a scythe, cutting circles around a tractor equipped with a mowing machine!