I’ll be at Derbyshire Woodland Festival at Elvaston Castle on 21 and 22 September 2019.
This is a great day out for all the family with lots of fun activities for children, unique crafts and furniture to buy. Professional demonstrators and performers will share their amazing skills, from sawmills and carving to wood turning, weaving, horse logging and many opportunities for you to have a go.
Visitor attractions will include the Vikings of Middle England camp, with crafts, re-enactments, combat and lots to entertain you. Arbor, the incredible 18 foot tall puppet of a tree – enjoy his show and walkabout performance, with some lucky visitors being given a tree sapling to take away. The Green Man is also not to be missed with popular songs and stories.
I’ll be there carving fan birds and will also have a selection of my wooden spoons, the Devon stave basket and other craft work for sale. Come and say hello if you’re in the area.
It was lovely to spend the day with the new rangers team at Preston Park, near Middlesbrough in the north-east as they learned how to scythe. The team are looking to start managing their wildflower meadow by hand to increase the biodiversity and make hay. They’re off to a flying start!
Visit my Learn to Scythe page for details of courses around the UK and how to arrange a course for your group.
It’s Chris from the Improvers scything course here. Wanted to say I had the most enjoyable day. You tweaked my technique which had a huge positive impact on my self taught ‘skill’. You also respected the fact that I wanted to peen by hand and tweaked that for me too.
I went home feeling like I was a better mower. Headed straight for my allotment and wha’ ya know, I swished and mowed like I’d been doing it for a hundred years and had been taught by my father’s father’s father! I even managed to achieve (OK, only a little) that glorious metallic chime which the blade gives as it sings, defining a lovely sharp blade with that beautiful arc-cut. And no sore back.
Just a couple of photos from a terrific scything course at Malham in Yorkshire as part of the Bee Together project for the Yorkshire Dales Millenium Trust. A great group of people, fantastic scenery and wonderful venue at Hill Top Farm bunkhouse.
A few weeks ago I travelled down to Northamptonshire to teach a group how to scythe at Rushden Lakes, a nature reserve managed by the Wildlife Trust. The reserve is on the edge of a retail park which made for an interesting juxtaposition between the weekend shoppers and our group of beginners learning to scythe.
We were working in a beautiful wildflower meadow on the site which made for fabulous scything.
If you have a group of volunteers or friends managing a wildflower meadow, I can travel to you and teach a learn to scythe course at your venue. Please email me stevetomlin8[at]gmail.com for further details.
See my Learn to Scythe course page for more details and information about other scythe courses.
It’s great to see my friend Peter Blackwell and his family getting the recognition they deserve for their work managing the hay meadows Bell Sykes Farm at Slaidburn in Lancashire.
The meadows at Bell Sykes are wonderful wildflower habitats and absolutely beautiful as well as being an important and rare habitat. Over several years, Peter has been working with the Yorkshire Dales Millenium Trust, hosting wildflower walks, seed saving workshops and other events to promote the wildflower meadows. The meadows at Bell Sykes were selected as the Coronation Meadow for Lancashire have also been used as donor meadows, to seed other land in the area and create new meadows.
I met Peter several years ago when he came on one of my Learn to Scythe courses and he’s gone on to be a fantastic mower and key player in northern scythe events as well as winning the Quality Cup at the Somerset Scythe Festival 2018.
I am teaching a Learn to Scythe course at Bell Sykes on 3rd August 2019. If you would like to come and learn scything at a fabulous location in Lancashire and see some of the farm, please email me stevetomlin8[at]gmail.com for details.
Toni & Ken look after a couple of acres near Nantwich in Cheshire. Toni contacted me wanting to learn to scythe so they could cut their meadow and make hay by hand for their donkeys.
I travelled to meet them and we spent a fantastic day scything in the meadow together while they learned how to set up an Austrian scythe, honing the blade and cutting the long meadow grass.
If you’d like to learn to scythe at your own venue, I can come to deliver bespoke training on a 1-to-1 basis or for a group. Please email me for more details.
Here is some lovely feedback from Toni, the day after the course:
Just got the nets in having turned the hay twice today. It’s bone dry so can be netted this evening and then we’ll feel we’re making progress and do some more tomorrow after we’ve checked our blades and honed once more!!!!
It was a great day. Totally exhausting with both the brain and body tired but we both woke up this morning to another gorgeous day and set to turning the hay – a huge amount, it’s filled 8 nets so we hope to get the baler made in the next 2 wks as well need to free up some haynets!!!!
Will let you know how this mad scheme goes. At the moment we’re feeling a little overwhelmed so it’s one day at a time!
We both thought your training was great. Your life sounds fascinating and it’s admirable that you have carved yourself a unique lifestyle. We will certainly recommend you and your courses.
I love hearing from students and their progress and successes after one of my courses. Rob came on my Learn to Scythe course at the beginning of June and set to making hay and hand baling it. Visit my Learn to Scythe page for details of future courses or to book a private workshop for yourself or your group.
I had to share this photo with you. It’s my first hay bale! I found the plans for the baler on an American website.
The scything is gradually getting better with practice. I am cutting the most lush grass first, which is good for the meadow but is putting me in at the deep end with the scything. There is lots of thatch and patches of Cleavers in some parts of the meadow, which is testing my technique beyond my capability at times. However, it is very satisfying to take my first (very small) crop, and I am hoping that the next batch (assuming we get another sunny spell) will be less lush and so a bit easier.
Your ‘Learn to Scythe’ book was very useful to remind me of things from the course. I retired in frustration on a couple of occasions, read the book and then returned a bit wiser each time.
These first few bales are probably too green and moist to store until winter, but the rain was coming so we had to take it in. It’s very satisfying nonetheless. Hopefully, we’ll get some longer dry spells in the coming weeks.
All the best
It was National Meadow Day today and I had a fantastic day teaching a group how to scythe at Hullard Park in Old Trafford, Manchester. The park has a fabulous wildflower meadow which is in need of some cutting so this workshop was organised to train local people in scything.
There was a fantastic atmosphere all day as people made new connections as well as learning the skills of scything and getting involved in the meadow management. Courses like this are fantastic for building community networks and important for that as well as all the work which got done.
If you’re in the area on Sunday 7th July, I’ll be back in the meadow as part of Old Trafford Open Gardens – come along to find out about scything, meadow management and Hullard Park.
Some lovely feedback from Kevin Tone, Wellbeing Team Co-ordinator at the Wells Rd Centre, Nottingham.
We all agreed that it’s the best couple of days training we have had, we loved it and are completely hooked! We spent all day today in the paddock honing our new skills. Sunburn and hay fever riddled but it was fantastic.
I got some feedback from Keith and Rob today and we all agreed that you have a great teaching style and your clear passion and enthusiasm and you encapsulate the whole ethos and what we are trying to create at Spinney Meadow and you would go down really well with our patient group.
I’m going to look into trying to network with people in the local area that are into scything and organising a day where they can come along to Spinney and cut the grass with us and patients and hopefully get you along as well as the VIP for the day (or two). Thanks again Steve I will be in touch.