04 July 2016

The versatile scythe

Inspired by this gif of a girl cutting grass with a scythe*, I searched further and found the video above.
Every day, over 1,300 Nepalese, mostly men, are leaving the country for employment in neighbouring countries. As a result, fewer people are working Nepal's land, which undermines the self-sufficiency and food security of the region. A means of speeding up the harvest would be of clear benefit to Nepali farmers.

Introducing the scythe to places where the sickle is traditionally used will result in several benefits. Scythes ease the burden of harvesting with a sickle, which involves bending or squatting for hours. At the same time, a scythe increases productivity without introducing petroleum-powered machinery
More on the scythe at Wikipedia:
The scythe was invented in about 500 BC and appeared in Europe during the 12th and 13th centuries. Initially used mostly for mowing hay, it had replaced the sickle for reaping crops by the 16th century as the scythe was better ergonomically and consequently more efficient. In about 1800 the grain cradle, was sometimes added to the standard scythe when mowing grain; the cradle was an addition of light wooden fingers above the scythe blade which kept the grain stems aligned and the heads together to make the collection and threshing easier.

The Greek and Roman harpe and the Egyptian khopesh were scythes or sickles modified as weapons or symbols of authority. An improvised conversion of the agricultural scythe to a war scythe by re-attaching the blade parallel to the snaith, similar to a bill has also been used throughout history as a weapon. 
"Peasant infantry armed with scythes pray before the battle of Racławice (1794) by Józef Chełmoński."

Those must have been incredibly bloody battles.  You can read more on the Polish Kosynierzy.

*Addendum:  A tip of the blogging hat to reader snotty, who located the video from which the gif was extracted:

It always fascinates me to watch a skilled person do their work.  This video, btw, apparently comes from the same family that filmed "The Hay Pusher" that I blogged last summer.


  1. gif source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQVWj_vWJPw
    and, more importantly, from the same family (on a different account):

    1. Thank you, snotty! I've added the source video to the post.

      The Hay Pusher I blogged last year:

  2. Take a look at this (and related) articles about: The religion of complexity http://www.notechmagazine.com/2013/03/the-religion-of-complexity.html

    P.S. As English is my third language I am unsure that I would ever pronounce the word "scythe" correctly if I was required to.

    1. An interesting website I had not encountered before. Bookmarked. Tx, Aleksejs.

  3. Here's a video off of YouTube on a scythe vs. a weed whacker. The description reads:

    "Annual race between brushcutter and scythe - honours go to the first to cut a stand of grass. This is the British Scythe Champion against an experienced agricultural worker with a three-tine brushcutter, working flat-out. Held at the Annual Green Fair and South West Scythe Festival in Somerset, UK, on 13th June, 2010. No trick photography here - he really is that fast."


    1. Thanks, Heather. One has to wonder, however, whether the area set aside for the task was designed to favor the scythe-wielder. By the end he appeared very fatigued, while the brushcutter was going strong.


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