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The reason I don't use my scythe much. Advice?  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
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I love my scythe, and use it when I can, but my property is so uneven that the blade seems to get caught up in the sod way too often, jamming, killing my rhythm and dulling the blade. 

I stone the blade regularly to keep it quite sharp, but have not learned the skill of peening yet. 

I know that I have pretty good scything technique, as when the ground is more level I can do a huge amount of work with very little labor, but not on much of my present property. 

I have a sloped feral meadow, full of a range of grasses and broadleaf herbs and others such as raspberry.  There is a history of animal grazing, and resultant manure deposits, and these deposits have become tussocks, raised above the rest.  In addition to this, my rampant vole population seem to lift the sod, or bring aggregate material to the surface all winter, all over the place, and thus create more unevenness as the tenacious perennial grasses root up and sprout into it.  This is all on top of the whole area being an alluvial fan from a creek, so the entire place was already undulating/uneven. 

My primary scything task is taking down Canada thistles (in hopes of knocking down their potential to spread and hopefully slowly reducing their incredible resilience to live). 

I have resorted a heavy duty mechanized brush saw (at their peak of putting out buds for flowers), which consumed more than 30 hours of my time (and I didn't calculate the gas) to complete the job this summer alone.  I would much rather take care of this with the scythe, and hope that, in the least, I will get the patches down in size mechanically enough that they can be handled more easily manually in the future.  With that in mind though, I would much rather be told that I could just do something differently with my scythe thus not having to run the brush saw for this task, and be able to use the scythe instead.  Thoughts? 

Should I just get goats?
 
pollinator
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Should I just get goats?
Not unless you are sure they eat that particular thistle.

In my video of the different scythes I have I demonstrate cutting clumps  but  they are very light weight. In the case you describe I would use my heaviest scythe which can tolerate cutting through the loose soil.

The stroke you are trying to achieve cuts with the heel of the scythe and not the toe or tip of the blade. The nibs or handles should be set to hold the tip up with the left hand and the heel down with the right hand.
Do not try to pull the scythe with the right hand it should be holding the height and arc of the swing. The left hand supplies the power.  If the nib for the left hand is set so the thumb is pointing forward and the end of the handle is against the forearm then the tip can't drop down.

Previous answer with video and picture of wauna blade that I use on gas cutter.

It is quite dull in this picture because I have been cutting through the roots with it.
 
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Heel down, toe up, ride the ground with the heel, using your hands to control the tilt of the blade to follow the contours.
 
author
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What may also potentially be useful for you is a blade with a point made to allow the blade to glide past stones without damaging the blade, such as the Falci 187: http://onescytherevolution.com/scythe-blades.html
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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What kind of a blade do you have right now? Do you have a photo, perhaps? When you look into the edge is there a gradual rise or "smile" to the blade?
 
Roberto pokachinni
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What kind of a blade do you have right now? Do you have a photo, perhaps? When you look into the edge is there a gradual rise or "smile" to the blade?
I have several scythes as I pick them up at yard sales and auctions, but I  don't have photos, and they are presently snowed in, up at the garden shed, 1/4 mile from the road... so I'm not going to get any photos anytime soon.  The scythe that I have had the longest and have used the most, is curved.  I have one with a straight blade as well.  That said, when I do get the scythe cutting in season, I will endeavor to try the process of changing my style slightly, scything with the point angled upwards/heal downwards and get back to you all in the spring/summer about any success/failure
 
Roberto pokachinni
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I definitely do not have a falci 187 amongst my scythes.  That seems like it would work great for doing the rougher work, but stones are less the issue than soil/tussocks of grasses.  I'm not sure I'll be buying more scythes in the short term, but if I do, the 187 model would probably be the one.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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What kind of a blade do you have right now?
  The one I use the most looks like the Falci 100 that is in Ian's link above.
 
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