Saturday, December 27, 2014

Old ways (amended)

When my grandparents' farm implements were divvied up, I thought it would be interesting to have a snath (scythe handle) as a conversation piece.  I actually ended up getting the whole scythe. 

(Here is the amended part:  this tool is not the one Grandpa cut wheat with.  He cut wheat with a scythe and cradle.  The scythe he used for cutting wheat had a shorter handle than the one pictured below, I'm told, and of course the cradle part is an interesting part all in itself.)
Mama described how her father would cut wheat with a scythe and cradle.  The first few heads stalks of wheat were handed to her mother who tied them together.  That was used to secure an entire bundle of the wheat as her father cut it.  When the bundle was fastened, the children were tasked with stacking the bundles.  Ideally the stack was made in such a way as to minimize the absorption of rainwater as the stack stood in the field.  The straw from the wheat was used for bedding.  I did not know that.  The old bedding was dumped out and Mama described how good the new bedding felt compared to last year's bedding that had been compacted over time.
It's very interesting to hear about old ways.  If you would like to see small-scale grain harvesting in action, HERE is a video I would recommend, though this uses a different style cradle than the American cradle.
And if the legend of John Henry appeals to you, you will probably enjoy seeing the pictures of a barefoot girl in a long dress "mowing down" the competition in a scythe vs. gas trimmer competition.  I like a girl with pluck.
On another note, I pulled a few more turnips.  (Some things don't change.)



  1. Ahhh the turnips look good. I am not that old, but I have slept on a 'Straw Tic" I do not know why it was called that but down in Georgia when visited my GGranddaddy. I slept on one.

    Son Mark came home once from an auction down east with the scythe and a cradle hooked to it. I have never used one, but saw plenty of them. I sure did not know the handle had a specific name. Neat trivia what is a snath. (smile)

  2. Apparently, you weren't the only one who didn't know what a snath was. My spell checker didn't even recognize it! I wouldn't have known either, but it was written on the handle with the company name. I think it was something like Eastern Tool Corp., Richmond, Virginia. The snath itself is a beautiful piece of wood (ash, I suppose) with a lovely grain. I suppose it is heat bent somehow. I tried to cut a clump of broom sedge; it must need sharpening.

  3. Scythe versus Weed-Whacker is very interesting. I had seen that one in action. it is amazing how an expert can use that. It had been probably 40 years since my dad used one, but he picked it up checked it for sharpness and neat as a pen, made a cut. I think he said too many people try to pull at the same time they size. or something like that. I was very good with the 'sling'. ha!