Tuesday 8 June 2021

Time for an upgrade - Austrian Scythe

 So for a long time now I've been thinking about upgrading my scythe. 

This owes me nothing, but its not the easiest to use

I have an old English one, and although it's great for knocking down a few nettles it is quite heavy to use for a long period of time and I've never managed to cut grass in a tidy way with it. Probably as I'm a good six inches taller than whoever had it before me! 

Time to buy a different one.  

I'd heard good things about Austrian Scythes and last year, while writing an article for Country Smallholding about hand tools around the smallholding, I made contact with a man from the same county who was an expert in the subject. At the time he offered to sell me one, but I held out, not sure what lockdown would bring, but I kept thinking about it.  

The other day I contacted him and asked if he was still willing to sell me one and show me how to use it. 

I ended up spending the day there, sharing his loaf of bread and having him show me how to sharpen, peen and use the tool. We have quite a bit in common and got on well, a really fun and interesting day. 

It's fair to say that although I don't think I can call myself a natural I'm already hooked on what it can do. It's lightweight, easy to maintain (when you've been shown how) and I swear tidies up around trees far quicker (and safer) than any strimmer. 

Sharpening is always a subject of obsession with me, so I like that this is so different from other tools, having to hit the blade into shape for part of the process - called peening - makes it really interesting. I've already built a peening pony with my eldest daughter at the weekend (I'll do another post on this but you can see her carving here) so have no excuse not to have it razor sharp, along with the full selection of water stones needed. 

No Mow May

I started with just tackling a few different places when I got home, then the lawn that was over grown from No Mow May. I've loved letting everything grow but it's nice to have a small area with short grass for the children to play on. The scythe made short work of it, maybe enough there for a crop of hay! 

I'm now working my way through the orchard in the cool night air, I've always worked better at night and it seems to be the perfect way to spend an evening just knocking down the grass. If I had somewhere to store it we could make some hay, maybe one year we'll learn to make and thatch our own stacks! But for now this is the quiet alternative to the strimmer and a good way to keep fit. 

Who else still uses a scythe? Any tips you'd like to share?


  1. my dad always used one and swore by it.nothing like the smell of freshly cut grass!

  2. Kev, I am insanely jealous of you right now. This is something I have looked at in the past, but at least in New Home, the amount of land to scythe ratio (is that a thing?) does not justify the expense. Well done sir.

  3. This brought back happy memories - I love watching scything done by someone who knows what they are doing. Our gardener when I was growing up in Surrey (the 1950's)used a scythe on some parts of our large garden that were allowed to grow rough. He also worked for the Council and kept the roadsides cropped with the scythe. I loved watching him.

  4. Mt grandfather apparently only mowed his lawns with a scythe - the longer cut is much better for biodiversity (we now know. He wasn't motivated by such considerations). Have you considered trying a barrel full of silage with the cut crop? All I know about silage making is that it requires tight packing and sealing to remove as much air as possible and then it sort of ferments. The stock love it so much more than hay and it is apparently much better for them. If you want hay for poultry bedding, trying pitching it onto a slanted or A-frame drying rack (chicken mesh on a frame), and storing it in a tight pile somewhere (well covered compost bin) once it is dry.

  5. The Austrian scythe is Dan's favorite too!


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