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Scythes

Posted by Dave Strnad 
Scythes
August 07, 2013 02:40AM
I am looking for advice on purchasing a scythe for my orchard and farm in general. I suppose I shouldn't over think such a purchase. However I believe this may be one of those things that if I choose the right one it gets used all the time if not it gets hung in the barn to collect dust. I have read contradicting info online and I am no better off then when I started looking. If it matters I AM 6'3" 285 athletic build. Most of the use will be in the orchard possibly some small grains, etc. I was thinking a curved snath with a 26-30" ditch blade to start. Any opinions?
Re: Scythes
August 17, 2013 05:05PM
Hi Dave,

I would get a first scythe at

[www.earthtoolsbcs.com]

Inexpensive and a very good, durable snath in my opinion.

Brian Caldwell

Hemlock Grove Farm
Zone 5 in New York
Re: Scythes
August 21, 2013 05:35PM
I've been using the same straight handle wooden snath for about 30 years (knock on wood) for a variety of mowing: close work near the trees, bigger areas of mixed grasses and forbs, fence row clearing. It's not my only mowing tool, but in some situations, it's the best. I usually make my first clearing in Spring of the ground under the drip line with the the scythe, near the end of scab ascospore maturity, mulching with the cut material.

The setup you describe would be about as heavy as you can get. A curved snath is so much heavier than a straight snath, it would be much more likely to "get hung in the barn to collect dust". I like the straight wooden snath, but I would get a straight metal snath before I got a curved wooden one.

Ditch blades are quite heavy, as you swing them over a period of time. Grass blades are a bit long for my uses: I don't have long expanses of "amber waves of grain"and my orchard is on rocky ground. I prefer an intermediate length, and for closer cutting with less likelihood of slicing trees, I like a bit more curve than on a grass blade. For cutting bigger--but still skinny--saplings in the fencerow at ground level, I prefer loppers or clippers.

In recent years, I've bought my blades from Scythe Supply



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/21/2013 04:16AM by Ed Anthes.
Re: Scythes
August 26, 2013 04:16PM
Marugg makes some pretty nice ones. I just replaced mine with a Marugg, straight snath with a longer ditch blade. This is a serious blade, going through saplings with ease. For me it is really a raspberry cane blade, which is what I need most often, though it does ok with longer grasses and weeds. I had been using a curved- American styled snath and grass blade for years, and after repairing it a few dozen times (a stolen joke- I have had the same scythe- replaced the blade and later replaced the snath, but is occupied the same space), it was time for a new tool.

More important was my purchase of the sickle/scythe from the same folks- really a sickle that you can swing. This I am using a lot more, especially in getting things cleaned up beneath low limbed trees during borer checks. There is no substitute for being on your knees when you want to pay attention to what is happening down there. Thing never runs out of gas either, though the operator might.
Re: Scythes
May 21, 2022 12:13AM
I am embarrassed to say that I have never swung a scythe in my life. Nor, as appealing as scythes are to me, did I ever consider that one might be practical in a larger orchard. However, with fuel prices through the roof, I am curious . . . I know that many or most HON members are avid scythe users. Those of you who are, would you mind sharing what kind of acreages you're tending with a scythe? I mean, I know there are people who do hayfields and lawns with these things, and certainly Middle Age peasants made proper use of them, so I assume it's not necessarily impractical to consider mowing the under-canopies of 18 acres on MM111 (pretty wide undercanopies on some varieties) with a scythe?

I currently bushhog our aisles a few times a year, close-mow in between trees and as much as I can under them with a lawn tractor, then weedwack the rest. It's a lot of hours and most people can't believe I pull off that much weedwacking, but it actually goes remarkably fast and efficiently -- it's the close-mowing that takes so long, so much wear and tear on the tractor, etc. I do have an old BCS (from the '80s and not heavy duty) with a sickle mower attachment that I bought a few years ago specifically to try out on under-canopies. It works well, but being an old fixer upper, every time I've used it, it's broken down with something or other before I get much cutting done, so it's pretty much stabled at this point. I have a much larger, more powerful BCS tractor that I could get a heavy-duty sickle bar for, but the expense and the idea of trying to maneuver that thing under a low canopy doesn't appeal. Ideally, we will eventually maintain hay mulch under all our trees, not just certain blocks and it will be a moot point. Until then, the tractor is continually on the go and the weedwacker is perpetually in hand. But perhaps a scythe should be instead . . .

Kordick Family Farm
Westfield, NC
Zone 7a
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