Winter is coming, but don't put away your scythes away just yet. This is the time of year that I like to mow brome grass at the straw stage, for use as animal bedding and mulch. It's great for mulching garlic. My favorite blade for this is the 85cm Falci 100. The 100 is formed to slide well over a bumpy field, and so it leaves rather high stubble. This works great with a prime upright hayfield, but it also works great for mowing brome in the late fall for straw. Whereas a flatter blade like the FUX 2010 blade, which hugs the ground and leaves short stubble, would mow everything and shave the ground clean, the Falci 100 will leave a lot of the short green grass behind unmowed. It takes a lot less effort to mainly mow just the dry straw rising above the green grass, than it takes to mow everything clean. Since I want to use the harvested grass as straw, I would rather have more dry matter and less green grass in the mix. The ease of mowing brome at this time of year is a lot of fun!
A scythe can be used to mow along, and under electric fences, to keep the tall grass from shorting out the wires. You have to be very careful not to hit the metal fenceposts, however. Most cracked scythe edges that I hear about, are from people trimming along fence lines and hitting either metal fenceposts, or wire. Keeping your edge very sharp, enables you to mow with much less force, so you can be more slow and precise when nearing a fence post.
If you wish to gather up the fresh cut grass for feeding back at the barn, or if you wish to make hay with it, it's best to mow from right to left along the fence, (standing with right shoulder towards the fence) so that your windrow ends up away from the fence. You can then rake it up and put it in a garden cart, and haul it away. Or, if you want to make hay out of it, spread it out in place, and ted it until dry before hauling it away. For feeding it fresh to the horses, you can mow from the left end of the fence line to the right (standing with left shoulder towards the fence) as in the video below, so that your windrow ends up on the other side of the fence, so the horses can eat it fresh from their side of the fence.
Two boys spend the day with their grandfather, scything hay. Everything is very idyllic, until a loud and obnoxious guest arrives.
The first Sunday of April has been officially dubbed International Peening Day, by the Scythe Association of the British Isles. The idea was originally conceived by Steve Tomlin, to encourage people to take the time to properly prepare their scythe blades for the upcoming mowing season. Even better is when people gather in small groups, to share their knowledge and experience. It falls on Easter this year, April 5th.1SR Scythe Instructor Andy Graybeal is hosting such an event in Coolville, Ohio. Andy will help those who need assistance getting their blade sharp. Starting at noon. Rain or shine. Contact Andy at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you want to attend, or register on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/928546020509355/
I will be hosting an event in Minnesota, near Hastings. Contact me at Botan@oneScytheRevolution.com, or call 651-604-7090 if you wish to attend. Bring your scythe blade, whetstones, and whatever peening gear and stump you have.
If you participating in the international event, either in groups or on your own, you are invited to share pictures with Steve Tomlin https://stevetomlincrafts.wordpress.com/2015/03/08/international-peening-day-2015/
- Botan Anderson
Ever wonder how to get the hulls off of your homegrown Einkorn and Emmer, so you can eat them? I have heard of this solution, but I haven't tried it yet. Here is a video on YouTube of a simple way to do it. At 1:00, notice that a thick, flat rubber ring has been mounted over the main steel plate of a Corona or Porkert grain mill. The other steel plate is left bare. The grain heads are cut off the stems, and then run through the grinder. The plates need to be adjusted for firm, but not crushing pressure. As you turn the crank, the metal teeth of the steel plate, rubs the hulled grain against the rubber plate, and the friction rubs the hulls apart. Then the grain is separated from the chaff, by winnowing it in the wind.
On an even smaller scale, you can use the ancient method of toasting the hulls in a frying pan until very dry, then crushing the hulls with a mortar and pestle, and then winnow in the wind to separate the grain from the chaff. - Botan Anderson
A History of Harvesting Grains, from the Scythe to Gigantic Modern Combines
While it's amazing what a $500,000 combine can do, how does a small acreage farmer homesteader grow and harvest their own grain? Even small walk-behind combines cost a fortune. From 4:40 to 14:14, the above documentary shows how grains used to be harvested by hand, with a scythe and a flail. There is some good historical footage in this video. While the modern reenactment was done when the grain was at peak ripeness, the narrator explains at 6:55 that grains were traditionally harvested with a scythe before peak ripeness, so fewer grains would get knocked loose while harvesting. Then the grain was tied into sheaves and stacked in the field, in shocks, to finish ripening. Modern combines harvest wheat at complete ripeness.
1SR Falci 100, in "Botan Blue", 85cm, 50mm wide, 603g, This blade has a fully-formed belly and rocker, to handle bumpier fields, like my favorite Penn. Dutch Redtenbacher blade. I asked Falci to reproduce my favorite Redtenbacher blade in 85cm, and they said there was no need to. This one is similar, they said, and will probably mow better! So there you go. This blade is awesome. A strong, stiff, well-formed, and balanced blade. The form of the blade is more like a cross between my Gartensense blades and the FUX 2010 or Profisense. It doesn't have as much of a hook in front, as the 2010, making it easier for beginners to use, and requires less twisting of the torso in the full field stroke, which I prefer. I like using a lot of lateral motion in my scythe stroke. Only double peened, but to a thinly tapered bevel that runs easily over the nail, in the thumbnail test. I finally got to really put it through it's paces this fall, and shoot some video of it in action. See the three videos below:
The farmers at New Story Farm called me up, and said they needed a scythe asap, to mow some green feed for their beef cows. Their last pasture was exhausted, and their newly seeded pastures weren't ready to withstand being trampled by the herd yet, but could be mowed. Sounded like fun to me, so I personally delivered their scythe, and showed them how to mow and helped them harvest some green feed. http://www.newstoryfarm.com/