How pleasing to see the grass thicken and rise until we realize that—yikes!—it’s got to be cut, a task that asks for either loud machines or diligent livestock. I’m partial to a third option: the scythe. This Old World tool looks like a musical notation that leapt out of the score, expanded in size, and, when not in service, abides in our shed beside the retired weed-whacker. I loathed that contraption with its dervish-ing string driven by the sniveling engine. Not to mention the backache that it created, along with its habit of spattering grass across my jeans. Another mowing plan involves allowing the cows and sheep out to feed on our lawn. But as they meander and munch, their work is predictably uneven. Plus they leave behind untouched patches, along with excretions. That’s when I reach for my sharpened scythe to dispatch the tall grass. In the morning when everything’s still wet with dew, I wield my scythe like a kooky broom, swinging its curved blade from side to side, as if sweeping. The undercut stems become instant fringe. So quiet: I can hear anything sing. For as long as the growing season lasts—wherever grass rises, I’ll scythe it.
Welcome to the monthly Farmer’s Calendar podcast. These essays come from The Old Farmer’s Almanac annual publication. They are recorded by Julia Shipley, the author and poet. She draws from her life raising animals and vegetables on a small farm in Northern Vermont.