In recent decades, sales of the venerable scythe have been on the downswing, with dwindling purchases mostly by Amish farmers and those seeking horror show props. Not anymore.
But The Wall Street Journal reports that a new generation is re-discovering the large, manually operated harvesting tool, most often associated with the Grim Reaper. Sales in the U.S. are up to about 10,000 a year.
The scythe may look ungainly with its crooked handle and long, heavy blade. But its design has been honed through generations of practical application by peasants bringing in the sheaves.
Although sales are up, scythe blades haven’t been produced in the United States since 1958. The Schröckenfux factory in Austria — “a maker of quality ergonomic blades since 1540,” according to the Journal — manufactures about 200,000 a year for worldwide distribution.
Its biggest customer is Iran, where 60,000 blades are shipped a year. Apparently that nation’s modernization efforts are centered around weaponry, not agriculture.
As the Journal reports, the long decline in scything has resulted in a general lack of know-how. But though instruction is in short supply, a bit of experimentation can produce results. Let the shoulders and hips do most of the work.
And as one “expert” observed, “If it hurts, you’re doing it wrong.”
Fighting summer sloth? Here’s an opportunity to get into the old-time swing of things.
And unlike more costly machine-powered yard apparatus, the scythe has the added benefit of being comparatively quiet, notwithstanding the occasional “oofs” of it users.