January 22nd, 2013

Last spring, the dearest wish of my heart was to own a scythe. You know, one of those old agricultural tools with a long curved handle, and metal blade. They were used to harvest grain before modern farm machinery took over.

Eastman Johnson (American painter, 1824-1906) Man With a Scythe 1868
Man with a Scythe, Eastman Johnson, 1868

Turns out though, scythes were primarily the domain of men. Something about upper body strength and reach, not to mention the possibility of cutting off a leg. Women stuck to the smaller, crescent-shaped sickle. At least in genre paintings (reference my ongoing obsession with Gleaner subjects).

So today, I finally purchased my first sickle. It’s got a wooden handle and a curved metal blade, lined with little teeth on the inside of the crescent.

My new sickle

Coincidentally, our yard is badly in need of a mow. So I had to go outside and give it a try. It’s surprisingly efficient. Especially with long grasses. You have to hold onto a clump with one hand, while you hack and saw at it simultaneously with the sickle, so lots of crouching is involved. But it gets the job done. I estimate it will take the better part of a day to mow our yard using the sickle. By then, I should be an expert.

Oh, and I’m already learning. It’s a good idea to wear heavy gloves while wielding something this sharp, that close to your knuckles…