Nova Scotia

Lawrencetown enthusiasts promote scything for little farms

As the spring brings greener lawns that need mowing, two people from the Annapolis Valley are hoping to offer a sharp alternative.

Reap the benefits of an older way to maintain your property, couple says

As the spring brings greener lawns that need mowing, two people from Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley are hoping to offer a sharp alternative to machine-based grass removal.

Peter and Helene Redden of Lawrencetown are promoting the benefits of scythes through various workshops in the province. On June 20, they will be teaching at the Harrison Lewis Centre in Port Joli.

Peter Redden and his wife, Helene, host scythe workshops 4-5 times a year in Nova Scotia. (Harrison Lewis Centre)

The Reddens host about four or five workshops a year. They've visited Sackville, Pugwash, New Ross and now the Harrison Lewis Centre.

Peter Redden says if our forefathers used a scythe to great effect, there's no reason why modern homeowners can't.

"It's an environmentally friendly way to mow grass or hay," Redden says. "It's good physical work. You can hear what's going on. And I think it's kind of fun."

Redden does admit the scythe, while practical, isn't always fit for city dwellers — unless you're "really good and you have a really sharp blade." 

"I wouldn't cut anything smaller than the size of your pinky finger," he said.

According to Redden, people who'd benefit most from switching to hand mowing are those with small livestock, such as rabbits, chickens, goats or sheep.

Other benefits include not having to wear ear defenders, an awareness of the surroundings, and no gas fumes.

"I get up in the morning and I kind of love getting out and mowing. I can hear the birds sing. I can feel the sun on my back, even though my wife tells me I should be wearing a shirt."

Bring your own sycthe

Redden says people wanting to live self-sufficiently are turning up at their workshops. Attendees are told to bring their own scythe. They're taught good practice, form and how to maintain the blade.

"[The] biggest one we did was during the 10th anniversary of the Maritime Hand Mowing competition," he says. "We had what I thought was close to 35 people come out for it, which was pretty impressive."

Even though using scythes may not be for everyone, Redden explains there are plenty of people around Nova Scotia who are beginning to make the switch.

"It is pretty incredible when you see people coming up, with big smiles on their faces saying, 'I was wondering how I could do that!'"

Check out scything in action at the 2011 Maritime Hand Mowing competition (including a 100-year-old competitor!):

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