Saint Ambrose

Saint Ambrose
Photo: Journey Worker Productions, CC SA 3.0 (C)

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

What does the grim reaper have that you can buy too?

A painting of a farmer sharpening scythe.
Pekke Halonen, Niittomiehet (1891 PD)
While in Perth recently, I found myself also reading up on scythes. When growing up, from about the ages of 12-14, I lived for about 2 years on a property that was wild and overgrown with 4 foot high grass. There was a dumpy old house that we demolished it and rebuilt. But in the old house, there was an old shed with a rusted old sickle. With it, I would play at cutting the grass. 

I got to thinking of that old place, and the sickle. It made me wonder how scythes worked. (Yes, Rick; there is a 'c' after the 's' as in scissors). I was particularly interested in whether they'd be a realistic alternative to mowers. 

So, I did some poking around to look for sickles  (Cal, how come its not scykles?) and scythes. I was hoping to see whether anyone had recognised them as a 'convivial technology'. Turns out there was quite a movement. 

Actually, they are more efficient than I'd imagined.

Here is a video of mad English people showing technique (remember, these are English people...don't try to do this at the video and you will see what I mean): 
There's a question of why one would have grass rather than food forest in the first place (ahem, Rick...). But, if one is not stuck, as I am, in rental concrete-ocean horror and one has to maintain grass (i.e. guilty property investors...renters etc), better this than the dreadful whippersnipper or sit-on-lawnmower (however you may choose to spell the word, Rick).

If you want to buy one in Australia, look here:

I didn't go far enough to see how precise a cut it enables. My impression or guess is that it is a bit like shaving; one can do a rough job, or do a smoother one.  The end result depends on the surface and developing some skill. But, perhaps there are set limits to how fine/smooth a grass-cut one can get.

So, you too can have a stylish accessory just like the Grim Reaper. If you try balancing one of these on your chin as the mad Englishman did in the video above, you may just meet Mr. Black sooner than you had anticipated.

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