Spring Equinox - Cut Grass: Truman Scythe and Kangaroo Grass
A friend, Heiko Mahr, inspired me to restore an old scythe (he restored a beautiful sickle). I took note of Heiko’s discovery of a manufacturer’s mark on his restored sickle – and found, after the removal of 130 years of rust, George Truman’s name on my scythe.
George Truman was a blacksmith and iron worker at Mt Gambier still remembered for his great iron windmills – but he turned his hand to a variety of tools, and this one is listed as No. 2 in his inventory of wares.
A sickle is a short blade on a short handle, balanced and designed for work at arm height – necessitating the user to bend or sit while using it. A scythe is on a long handle, and a user can stand or walk while cutting grass or grain at ground level in long steady strokes. Truman’s scythe is a more brutal instrument, which has the feel of a machete rather than a finely tuned hay scythe - probably adapted to cut through the harder wood of bush shrubs.
Rusted and pock marked with chips out of the blade, I had stored it at the back of my hand tools. When i turned my mind to it, the dust fell off fairly quickly and the blade sharpened to and held a razor sharp edge.
Kangaroo grass (Themida) is one of two high protein Australian grasses. It loves our cursed dry summers, and turns red when cured. It can be milled for flour for a traditional bush bread baked under coals. The plant makes a resilient pasture for stock or wildlife. The dry stalk can be used to weave into baskets, carrying bags and fishing/crayfish nets. I left last summers crop on its pasture to feed stock over winter, but now it is time to remove the old grass heads for new growth.
I was able to use the scythe to cut a couple of sheaves of it. I will collect the seed and lay down the hay for my poultry.
I have electrical and petrol tools that do the same cutting job – but they are heavier and louder and, surprisingly, slower. The Truman scythe sings softly as it slices the air.