Friday, May 25, 2012

Scythe

A scythe  is an agricultural hand tool for mowing grass, or reaping crops. It was largely replaced by horse-drawn and then tractor machinery, but is still used in some areas of Europe and Asia. The Grim Reaper and Death are often depicted carrying or wielding a scythe.
According to the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities of Sir William Smith, the scythe, known in Latin as the falx foenaria (as opposed to the sickle, the falx messoria), was used by the ancient Romans; for illustration, Smith shows an image of Saturn holding a scythe, from an ancient Italian cameo.
According to Jack Herer and "Flesh of The Gods" (Emboden, W.A., Jr., Praeger Press, NY, 1974.); the ancient Scythians grew hemp and harvested it with a hand reaper that we still call a scythe.
The scythe was invented in about 500 BC and appeared in Europe during the 12th and 13th centuries. Initially used mostly for mowing grass, it replaced the sickle as the tool for reaping crops by the 16th century, the scythe allowing the reaper to stand rather than stoop. In about 1800 the addition of light wooden fingers above a scythe blade produced a form of scythe called the cradle which soon replaced the simple scythe for reaping grain and mowing other tall vegetation such as reeds. In the developed world, all of these have now largely been replaced by motorized lawnmowers and combine harvesters.
The Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet in Sheffield, England is a museum of a scythe-making works that was in operation from the end of the 18th century until the 1930s. This was part of the former scythe-making district of north Derbyshire, which extended into Eckington. Other English scythe-making districts include that around Belbroughton.
Mowing with a scythe remained common for many years even after most mowing became mechanized, because a side-mounted finger-bar mower (whether horse or tractor drawn) cannot mow in front of itself. Scythes would therefore be used to open up a meadow – to mow the first swathes, thus letting the mechanical mower in to complete the mowing.


“I mowed some grass with the scythe in the yards this morning and then we went over to Mr. Holme’s and got a jag of straw for bedding.  I went over to my son Pierson’s this afternoon and got a stick for a 24 foot ladder.  Has not rained any today.”
Leesah

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