I was back to Bradwell Community Orchard in Derbyshire last weekend with another beginners scythe course. I taught a group there last year and it was great to see Ellie, Andy and Sally again, mowing well but keen to have a refresher. I also enjoyed seeing how much the grass had improved after being cut last year, much less rank and thatching.
Also on the course were Sarah from Sheffield Wildlife Trust and Alex from Eastern Moors who are both interested to start using the scythe to manage areas for conservation. I’ve taught several people from different Wildlife Trust groups now, glad to see they are taking it on board. Everyone made great progress and we cleared about half the orchard. Jeremy lives just in the next village so took his scythe kit home by bike to use in his own orchard.
There were a few short showers but mostly only long enough to put your waterproofs on before it stopped again. At lunchtime we sat in the sun and Andy treated us to a reading of the poem from the ‘Notes on the use of the Austrian scythe’ booklet which comes with my beginners scythe kit.
Taxman by George MacKay Brown
Seven scythes leaned against the wall.
Beard upon golden beard
The last barley load
Swayed through the yard
The girls uncorked the ale.
Fiddle and feet moved together
Then between stubble and heather
A horseman rode.
After the course I went with Sally to her own patch of ground as she’d been struggling with cutting the coarse grass and tussocks there and had managed to bend a couple of the D-rings out of shape. Her tussocks weren’t as bad as at St Nicholas Fields so I was quickly able to show her how to deal with it with less energy or potential for damage to the scythe.
I was staying with my mate Robin Wood down the road in Edale. On Sunday we got a couple of scythe kits together and took them over to Edale Orchard. The grass there too is much sweeter than when I taught there last year and full of buttercups at the moment. A few more hours of pleasant mowing in good company, what a treat for my day off.