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3 Step Guide To Mowing With Ease ?

Quick 3 Step Guide Mowing With Ease ?

Neil Dudman

In todays often fast paced modern life man often looks for a quick way to achieve his aim, to get somewhere faster or produce more effectively. Perhaps in this regard its possible to look at all the complexities of the Scythe and ask, "I just want to pick it up and use it, all your information is very interesting, but I've not got the time right now, have you got the short version of how to use the scythe?" We would love to accommodate people who ask such a question, however its a differcult question, which could explain why, even here there isn't a short cut to offer the inquirer.

One answer to this question could be, which I would call 3 steps to punishment.
  1. Get a blade and snath, hardware shops always have a few.
  2. Sharpen and assemble, finding our own way how to do it, or following vague instructions we sort of understood.
  3. Stand and swing, perhap as we have or think we have seen others or read.
Of course perhaps I'm exaggeration to make the point.

My path was a little like this and looking back it was pretty easy to come to the conclusion that, I just wasn't built for the scythe or that people in the past were pretty stupid to kill themselfs like this. And the next step would normally follow.
  1. Hang the scythe up and consider alternatives, it looks pretty on the wall after all.
Of course another answer could be in 3 easy steps to.
  1. Get an experience mower to prepare and setup your scythe, which perfectly suits your size. Have a blade and snath which match each other and the job in hand. Further to have this scythe sharpened (peened and honed) to a high standard, and adjusted properly.
  2. To mow grass following in the foot steps, of the skilled man who assisted you in step 1).
  3. To continue following the skilled man, how he mows with ease, watching closely, making small adjustments and changes, until your skill is such that its sought by another and the cycle can continue. I guess this has deeper interpretations, to swallow ones pride from this day to your last, and follow in the path with humility men/woman of the highest kind, learning what we can from him/her.

Example of an old man from classic literature.

I like the old man Titus from Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina". Levin was guided by this old man, who cut with ease as the below ex-certs I hope demonstrate. Here are a few excerpts, empasis mine.

"There was also Titus, Levin's tutor in mowing, a small, skinny muzhik. He walked stragiht ahead without bending, as if playing with his scythe, cuttin down his wide swath." .... "Titus kept on without stopping, without showing the slightest fatigue, but levin was already beginning to fear that he would not hold out, he was so tired."..."Titus moved on swing after swing, without pausing and without tiring."... "The old man, holdin himself erect, went ahead, moving his turned-out feet steadily and widely, and in a precise and steady movement that apparently cost him no more effort than swingin his arms while walkin, as if in play, laid down a tall, uniform swath. Just as though it were not him but the sharp scythe alone that swished through the succulent grass."... "The old man did it easily. The tussock would come, he would change movement and, using the heel or tip of the scythe, cut around it on both sides with short stokes. And as he did so, he studied and observed what opened up before him; now he picked off a corn-flag, ate it or offered it to Levin, now flun aside a branch with the tip of his scythe, or examined a quail's nest from which the female had flown up right under the scythe, or caught a snake that had got in his way and, picking it up with the scythe as with a fork, showed it to Levin and tossed it aside"......"For Levin and the young lad behind him these changes of movement were difficult. Both of them, having got into one strenuous rhythm, were caught up in the passion of work and were unable to change it and at the same time observe what was in front of them."..."In the wood they were constantly happening upon boletus mushrooms, sodden in the succulent grass, which their scythes cut down. But the old man, each time he met a mushroom, bent down, picked it up, and put it into his jacket. 'Another treat for my old woman,' he would mutter."
When there is no longer an accomplished mower as a neighbour, old or young, to demonstrate the skills which are still in use, its differcult for the best of us to see our raw technique in its true light, and to have an example to reach up to. We are thus easily lead down a path of dependence upon modern mowing methods and the abandonment of an old and trusted friend. Theres a very nice poem written in memory of just such an old man and all like him, which we all look forward to meeting when we take our scythes in hand to mow, so we can start to learn a little of "The old mans gift before he dies".

Where to look for a guide?

If we can't find a living guide, or someone close, perhaps something has been written that we could study, who going to write such a thing?

The best person to write such a thing would, I guess be a farmer who uses or rather relies upon the scythe annually, mowing large areas. In the past such a farmer would probably not have the inclination or time to put pen to paper. Perhaps there is a little luck, there seems to be a trend, among some educated people of giving up the fruits of their education to return to the small family scale farming of their distant ancestors. Perhaps one such farmer is a Slovakian Peter Vido who's enthusiasm and skill with the scythe is an inspiration for myself and many others.

We are fortunate as Peter Vido and others have unearthed some old and often dusty texts describing the use of the scythe. This together with his own experimentation and hard work are helping to produce written texts which can help the man with a strong will to take hold of a scythe which cuts with ease. But this isn't yet a quick guide.
So why isn't there already a quick and easy 3 step guild to using the scythe and should there be?

Perhaps there is a good reason why there dosn't exist a written quick guide ? Perhaps this is a good thing ? There are perhaps many reasons why anyone might still insist on mowing with a scythe, I offer what has been motivating myself.

Why invest the effort?

If its true that that which has the most value require the most effort to acquire, I don't mean necessarily material things, but more skills and human traits or virtues which take a life time to practise and mature, yet have their own rewards? I'm thinking of a few words by Leo Tolstoy in "What To Do?"

Property signifies that which has been given to me, which belongs to me exclusively;
that which I can always do any thing I like;
that which no one can take away from me;
that which will remain mine to the end of my life,
and precisely that which I am bound to use, increase, and improve.
Now, there exists but one such piece of property for anyman, ? himself.

Can real pride in something be gained without very real effort? Is it really possible to be rightly and truly proud of something, a skill or virtue, we haven't pursued ourselfs or achieved with our own own hands, heart and soul?

To increase and improve anything don't we need to be motivated ourselfs, by our own will. Can a friend, pushing and pulling us, persuading, making it easier, so we don't have to go through the struggle, to sweat blood and tears, are we not robbed if we don't come out the other end stronger. When our well meaning friend stops pushing, progress stops or perhaps we go backwards. I wonder if real increase and improvement in something must be driven by ourselfs, our own will. Of course we need help sometimes, but just how much do we help ourselfs, where is our will? Are we being given fish or a rod ? What prevents us mastering the scythe and other valuable skills, where there is a will there is a way?

The scythe doesn't have a button to make it go, and can't easily be pushed back and forth, people used to, and for good reason, take a very real pride in their scythe and their skill (or developing skill) in using one with ease (literary example of an old man mowing with ease). Can this be said for a grass cutter or perhaps many other machines or methods of doing things in our current stage of high development? Of course there has to be a trade off, for increased speed, but do we see or understand what we have lost ourselfs ? Lets nurture the full experience required when we use our hands, whole body, heart and soul.

I'm starting to understand that the scythe and hand tools in general, are simply different to the motorized kind. The hand holding a tool with no motor dosn't simple become a motor, is not simple rotation, power and propulsion, but is connected with the rest of the body and beyond. The hand holding the tool is just one aspect, every part of our body, heart and soul must participate in balance. Words, at least how we currently express ourselfs, don't seem to be cabable of expressing "with ease" and in brief how to "mowing with ease". For those with a strong will there now exists the start of a guild in the form of written texts (book, internet) its not 3 easy steps however? If words poorly serve us then we need examples to copy (showing its possibility of mowing with ease). I'm happy those with a strong will have already stepped ahead clearing the path and showing by example, the learning of old skills like mowing "with ease" will be possible again by the quick 3 steps outlined at the begining.
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