Tuesday, 20 May 2014

one man went to mow..

the lightweight Austrian scythe and its heavier English cousin
A wonderful floriferous spring. And the birds have been more abundant than at any time since we took over Cordwood in October 2010.
The gardens are shaping up too - but, of course, the weeds are in full vigour too: time to take control.

a mown path using the Austrian scythe
I try and use my Austrian scythe as often as I can. When the conditions are right I make speedy progress with it: demonstrations consistently show the scythe being quicker than a strimmer. The photo shows my progress along the boundary clearing bracken, brambles, grass and nettles. It's a surprisingly nimble tool taking into account its 'grim reaper' connotations and 24 inch blade. As Britains clumsiest man, Jill was concerned that she would shortly be married to a double amputee when I began scything. But it's lightweight and they even produce a scythe for children's use. Imagine your little God daughters face on Christmas morning when she unwraps her scythe....
It allows me to mow carefully around the bluebell patches and the seedling trees I wish to save. I use it to make neat piles of the mown vegetation that can be useful to all manner of small mammals, birds, invertebrates and amphibians.

Importantly for me too, its use doesn't leave the woodland ringing with the screech of a strimmer or hovermower. This year has been the best I can remember on this site for hearing cuckoo calling. I wouldn't hear him with ear protectors and the whine of the strimmer wire.

The other advantage of the scythe is that it is much less harmful to wildlife than a strimmer or hovermower. Strimmers cause horrific and painful injuries to hedgehogs and frogs. Mowers too kill and maim and are given as a reason why our native legless lizard, the slow worm's numbers have declined. The Victorian naturalist Joseph Whittaker described our local Blidworth Vale as ringing with the 'krex krex' call of the corncrake before mechanical harvesting was introduced. Corncrake are now locally extinct.

So in this corner of Nottinghamshire, one man will continue to mow using his scythe while ever he retains his strength!

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