Harvesting wheat with a scythe. A great learning opportunity. A organic, hand-broadcasted wheatfield, ready to harvest soon. We will be harvesting a quarter acre, weather permitting. Details to follow.
Here's a gem. The wheat harvest starts 3:00 minutes in. Good video quality. Watch it full screen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hb4QYOHV8i8&feature=endscreen&NR=1
The winter grains are thigh high already. Time to finally figure out a homemade grain cradle, of some sort. Here are a couple of ideas, from wildseed01 on YouTube. Thanks Wildseed01 for sharing this good info!
Below is a simple bow cradle (boyle) with a pricker. See 0:54 for still picture. This one can be completely homemade with some green willow, a thin angle iron, and some good twine.
This is Crabapple farm in Chesterfield, MA. Tevis is harvesting the wheat using an European scythe and the sickle follows.
Another great harvest video. YouTube sure is a goldmine of info. This one was posted by tempo2002 . It was shot in Super-8 film by Folker B. Jung, in 1983. I think it takes place in southern Germany. Excellent close-up views of the F.A.O.-style grain cradle's construction, and in action! There is a drawing of the F.A.O. cradle on page 77 of The Scythe Book, though the cradles in this video look more artfully constructed.
In 2009 I had another opportunity to lead a grain harvest/experiment. This time, one of my Spring Scythe Workshop participants had a field of oats that she had had planted on her land as a nurse crop for hay. She wanted to try to harvest some of it with a scythe. So we organized a workshop for it. The nice thing about having a grain harvest workshop with oats, was that we had a much greater window of opportunity in which to harvest the grain, compared to other grains. Oats don't fall off as easily, when ripe. This extended time-frame made it easier to schedule a workshop, and also to work around the weather.
Hello Botan, Your site is a great resource for folks (like me) wanting to learn about sustainable farming.
I think of the thing that I made as a "catcher" or "pusher" modification to a mowing scythe for the purpose of harvesting grain. From watching the video on your site, I could not tell if those German farmers had a temporary addition to their scythe or not (though I thought so because at the end, the guy detached his blade and re-attached it under the clamp along the snath), but I wanted mine to be detachable. And that's the real difference in my mind-- one is a temporary modification to a tool to get a specific job done and the other is a permanent and specialized tool. For example, one would not want to use a grain cradle to mow a lawn! (The cradles I've seen have really short snaths and long, wooden tines going out over, parallel to the blade.) David Tresemer, in his The Scythe Book, shows an "F.A.O cradle" (figure 26) that is very similar to the catcher, but it is bent inward (at the blade end) out over the beard of the blade. It does appear to be a temporary attachment.