I think of Steve as my mighty man because he is always doing things that I would love to see done but would never or could never do. He hacks down large patches of blackberries and chain saws through fallen trees to build new fencelines in the mosquito ridden woods. He erects beautiful grape arbors, and trellises and hoophouses, fixes the septic system, digs zillions of fence posts holes straight down into glacial till in a weekend (which is no easy feat) and he seems to think this is fun. Me, I cook dinner, and play with plants. He chops a cord or two of wood and brings it home in the truck, I build compost piles.
His efforts build monuments; it's the work that fill woodsheds and keep us warm all winter or keep the cows in from wandering in the woods. He does these things that I really don't want to do and he enjoys it. I really don't get it. But I am glad.
So when he has what seems like a goofy desire--say wanting to get a scythe from the nearby feed store, I don't question him, I know he has an idea. That's what happened last year. When the scythe came and he tried it, we soon had hay drying in the field and then stacked in the barn. Pretty cool. But I didn't think a whole lot about it. It seemed like an awful lot of work for a small amount of hay and besides I kind of like the red-necked hay guy that delivers both hay and philosophy to the barn. He's a kick.
But apparently scything was brewing in the back of Steve's mind because earlier this year I found scything pamphlets hanging around his office. His friend Joseph was scoping out the scything info at a a country fair for him. (Do these guys talk about things like scythes when they get together? hmm...)
Should he order the handmade one from the guy in Tennessee or get the really exotic one from Austria. Are these the thoughts lurking behind those blank stares I get when I ask him to take out the trash and he is too busy to do it?
Always up for a sustainable adventure, Becca joined his scything team when she sent him this gorgeous scything video of a 14 year old girl scything in the most beautiful way possible. It is almost like she is dancing...in barefeet and a skirt! A more techy person than I would have this showing up a classier way but this is the best I could do. The video is on the the right hand side of the home page of this site--you probably don't want to watch the whole thing but give it a minute or two to see what she does. It's incredible. I especially love the end.
Videos like this give a middle aged man a sense of possibility. Soon he was signed up for an all day scything workshop where he learned about snaths, hafting angles, and the lay of the blade. He learned to peen the blade and came home with a nifty tool to strap on his belt for quick blade tune-ups out in the field. This scything is technical stuff.
He was barely home that night (on our anniversary, I might add!) when he out headed to the shop where he banged and whacked and came out of there with a whole new hafting angle, or was it the angle of the tang? I don't know but what I do know is he went straight to the field to try it and seldom have a I seen him happier. This scything is cool stuff.
Luckily for him, that day we were running low on hay and the hay guy was busy for a few days. New purpose filled Steve's heart. The animals might be hungry (no matter that it is late summer and there is still food in the fields). Look at these guys--don't they look hungry to you? Every night when he got home from work he rushed outside to try out his new skills. Gilly and Joey would watch through the fence with big mournful eyes that just seemed to say "Hurry, I might just die over here if you don't get me some of that juicy green stuff right now!" Scything for an hour yielded a couple of loaded garden carts of fresh green hay for the cows and a lot of sweat on the man. Guess it would take a while to make it look as easy as that barefoot girl did.
One night as I was going to bed I noticed I light out in our orchard bouncing almost spinning around. Huh? I thought, what the heck is that...and then I remembered Steve saying he would be back in a bit, he just wanted to check on something. Believe it or not, he was out there armed with his headlamp and his scythe at 11:30 at night. That right there is why I call him the mighty man. He's going to learn to scythe well no matter what. Me, I would much rather sleep. And I guess that's the difference between us two.
Did you know that there are serious scything competitions? People travel all over the world to race each other as they chop down grass in a field. The guy Steve learned from is an expert. A World Champion. I'm impressed. But I was even more impressed with what Steve could do with his apparently inferior scythe (a new one is coming) and its super inferior blade...apparently feed stores are NOT the way to go when buying such a tool.
So if this peak oil thing happens soon, we know how we will be getting our hay. I got the man, and he has the tool! In the meantime, I think I will keep gardening and cooking dinner.
And maybe even growing a few flowers on the side. I hope you get a chance to go outside where it is easy to remember that life is good.