It seems like last weekend was the day that everyone in Europe started to mow. Christiane made the first cuts in her meadow in Austria, Beth Tilston was leading a gang of mowers on a tussocky field in SE England and I was teaching my first group of students on a Learn to Mow course in Cumbria.
The course was fully booked with 8 people including Martin who’d come up from Bristol specially to do the course with me and my friend Stefan who’s finally learned after being surrounded by scythes for the last few years.
As always we started out with setting up the scythes before going out to get cutting. Because of the weather the grass we had was all very short but that’s a great tool for learning. One of the most difficult things for beginners is to learn to keep the scythe blade on the ground but with only 4″ of grass you’re forced to do that or nothing gets cut!
After an introduction to the tai-chi mowing style and instruction on sharpening we had lunch then walked over the fields to Stefan’s place where he had the main scything for the day, a large lawn full of dandelions and a rougher patch in amongst fruit trees. This gave us a chance to try out the scythe in different situations and was useful for the folk who’d come to learn to mow in their own orchards.
You can see from the photos what a great job they did and, for me the nicest thing is to look at their posture. Everyone is upright and making use of their legs to do the work rather than their shoulders. This is success for me and hopefully those skills will stick when they continue mowing on their own.
It was so much fun that we kept going and finished the job which meant that, once we’d cleaned the scythes and I’d explained and demonstrated peening we were late finishing but everyone seemed happy and they all went home with a scythe kit to start the real job of learning.
I’ve two more courses planned in Cumbria this summer but the places are going fast. Alternatively I still have some dates available when I can come to you and teach your group on your own land. Email me if you’re interested in either of these.