On Friday I’ll be doing a scything demonstration and offering have-a-go sessions at Silverdale Country Park as part of their rural skills weekend. It’s a fabulous site and should be a brilliant event. Some of the activites require booking at http://groundworkwm-naturalneighbourhoods.eventbrite.com/
I first taught Rachel and Mike at Broadrake how to scythe in 2013 and over the years it’s been amazing to watch their meadow develop. A big part of that has been due to Rachel’s amazing propagation of wildflower species.
In this video Rachel shares her methods for collecting and growing wildflower seeds. It’s a fantastic resource if you’re trying to increase the diversity of your meadow using locally sourced seeds.
Lovely feedback from the Learn to Scythe course at Broadrake in Yorkshire this week.
Dear Steve – just a quick note to say many, many thanks for such an excellent scything course yesterday. It was truly wonderful, perfectly organised, and has made me realise that scything is a real skill. One cannot just purchase a scythe and expect, the next day, to be a perfect mower. There is a clear and definite talent to it, supported by plenty of practice, so onward and upward for me!
Just a quick note to say thank you for such an informative course you led at Broadrake on Thursday.
I thoroughly enjoyed it – it was well-paced and comprehensive and worth the drive down from Wester Ross! I’ll soon be having a go at the bracken when it’s a bit drier up here.
Here is Martin on his first day of scything, easily cutting a terrific swath through the meadow. My teaching methods can help you learn to scythe easily and efficiently even if you are a complete beginner, visit my Learn to Scythe page for more details of courses
I’m loving how many projects in Manchester are getting interested in using scythes to manage their land. I was invited this week by Friends of Highfield Country Park to lead a couple of evening demonstrations and have-a-go sessions for local people in Levenshulme.
The community have been working recently on clearing brambles and planting to create a bee sanctuary and now are looking at managing some other areas to create wildflower meadows.
It was fantastic to see lots of people turning up to learn about scything, managment techniques for wildflower meadows and to have a go themselves. I’ve developed some special techniques where I can mow with someone so they get a feel of the movement and then gradually let go so they’re mowing on their own. It’s no substitute for a proper lesson but gets people excited and interested in the project.
Congratultions to Peter Backwell and Sarah Robinson, champions of this year’s Northern Scythe Festival mowing competition. The event took place in the beautiful meadows of Bell Sykes farm which Peter farms and is the donor meadow for many other meadows under a Forest of Bowland AONB project managed by Sarah so they are worthy champions on many levels.
Like many of the competitors, Peter and Sarah spent the morning peening their scythe blades ready for racing. Sarah is well used to working with the peening jig and I was happy to give her some help and instruction on freehand peening the edge of the blade to get an extra level of sharpness. I am teaching a peening workshop at Bell Sykes on 10th Oct 2021 if you’d like to come and learn these skills yourself – email me for details.
Racing really isn’t my thing as I always get too nervous so I was pretty disappointed by my own efforts but it’s always exciting to watch and I managed to redeem myself a little by being part of the winning group in the team competition.
Mainly though, it was a chance to meet up with friends and enjoy being out in the beautiful meadow, working together and talking about our passion for scythes and meadows.
I spent National Meadow Day 2021 in south Cumbria teaching a group some peening and scything improvers skills during a course organised by Arnside & Silverdale AONB and Plantlife. Several of the group had previously attended my Learn to Scythe course so it was great to see them again and know that they’re still enjoying working with the scythe.
We focussed the morning of peening the scythe blade to refine the edge for optimum sharpness. Recently I’ve been showing my students how, rather than a simple maintenance operation, peening is used to improve the cutting of their scythe for even easier cutting.
If you’d like to learn to peen your scythe for super sharpness, I am leading a peening workshop at Slaidburn in Lancashire on 8th Oct 2021 – please email me for details.
After lots of hammering and sharpening of the edge, we went out into the meadow and cut a huge amount of grass. Cumbria Wildlife Trust and Lesley, the meadow owner, are hoping to form a scything group to assist each other with work in the future – if you’re interested, you can contact Helen Rawlinson