Who says only weirdos use scythes?
We’re not an organisation with any legal status, we’re just a group of guys living in the Upper Huon (Tasmania, Australia) who like scythes, or more particularly, working with them, from trimming around trees and vegie gardens through to cutting hay by hand. You can learn a bit more about us below. We’re all guys at the time of writing, but women are of course welcome, and we’ll put our shirts back on.
We started getting together at 7am on Saturday mornings to collectively mow at the place of whoever’s turn it was to get some mowing done. We usually go for two or three hours, unless we’re mowing hay, in which case we’ll go until it’s done or we’re knackered for the day, or we just have to go and do something else.
Scythes are the glue that holds our motley crew together. Scythes span divides, build bridges, occasionally hide hackneyed, clichéd tautologies, and even cut grass. The scythe even cuts through religious differences: we have a practising (he’ll get it right one day) Catholic, a (“who needs practice?”) Protestant, a Jewish agnostic (but he’s still not sure about that), and a guy who has “no time for religion” (except when adherents are mowing his garden).
We’re not really certified Luddites. At least not all of us. Amongst us we have a photographer, a lecturer in medicine, a laboratory technician, and an IT consultant. Actually, at the time of writing, that is our entire ‘us’. We know of several more scythe mowers, and hopefully they’ll join us one day. Positions vacant include (but are not limited to) the Indian Chief, the Policeman, and anyone who looks more like Cheryl Ladd than we do. No, we don’t really dress up like this just to cut grass. At least not all of us.
Tony “El Presidente” Robbie
Tony was the first (as far as we know) to get into scything successfully in our neck of the woods. He mows and rakes his hay by hand, and bales it in a hand press he built himself. A television cannot be found in his house (which has nothing to do with his daughter topping the State in recent EAA tests), and he only has a computer for emails because his homing pigeon died while flying back from Leicestershire with his Luddite certification.
Having been in the Huon for much less than 50 years, Tony is still regarded as a Sydney-sider in some quarters, but his family’s Enid Blyton-like farm pursuits have earned them a reputation for pitching in. Tony also headed up the volunteer committee that coordinated the first incarnation of the Judbury Growers’ and Makers’ Market.
Tony is a botanist and, as well as his agricultural pursuits, he leads a Gregorian chant choir, and also has the pleasure of assisting high school students investigate the world around them, with a rigorous adherence to the scientific method (i.e. he replaces the pneumatic troughs when they forget that you can’t fill them with hot water and then rinse them under a cold tap).
Tony has long dreamed of getting a group of like-scythed people together:
“…if there was one other person close by who knew how to cut hay by hand, wouldn’t it be great to have the company, and half the workload? Two? Well, it would have to be better than just yourself. Three? You could start opening the cider by lunchtime.”
When he hand-mows hay, he wears a kilt. Seriously.
Tony is also one half of Bladerunners, purveyors of fine scythes and accessories.
Derek “Which Way?” Choi-Lundberg
Derek wields a scalpel by weekday and a scythe by weekends. Derek has owned scythes for years but, being left-handed, it didn’t work out so well initially. Having recently purchased a left-handed scythe, he’s never looked back, except to laugh maniacally while yelling “look at me go, look at me go!” We’re still figuring out how we’re all going to mow a paddock of hay together, should that ever happen while Derek is free of weekday commitments, but it will probably involve his starting in the middle and working out, while the normal people work from the outside in. That’s him over there with his back-to-front rig.
Lecturing in gross anatomy, Derek can identify which of your organs are protruding from a serious scything wound but, not being a clinician, he can’t actually put you back together again. He can also pinpoint which of your nerves is giving you grief while you scythe, based on what part of your body is symptomatic.
Despite having lived in the Huon since the 1990s, Derek’s Chicago origins are given away by the telltale accent, so he’s unlikely to be able to run for local council elections short of having a voice box reconstruction. Fortunately, this is unlikely to prove a hindrance since, also not having a television in the house, he’s unlikely to know when elections are on, even if he was so inclined.
Paul “Dinger” Redding
Hailing from Wollongong in 2007, Paul turned to the scythe in 2010 as a more pleasant way of controlling the grass on his block after multiple run-ins with his lawn mower.
Noting that a scythe had no moving parts, he liked the fact that it was difficult to flood, had no air cleaner to deal with, and didn’t require topping up with fuel. More importantly, he knew he’d get to stand semi-naked in paddocks, picturing himself in a Tolstoy novel.
Paul is a long-time commercial photographer (any stunning photos on this site are his, any not-stunning ones aren’t) and also delves into the hocus pocus of ginseng production, as well as scaring children with his inventive renditions of the pieces sung with the local community choir.
Due to his photographic persuasion, “Snapper” was Paul’s nickname at school, but his uncanny ability to find any blade-damaging object within a 30 metre radius makes the extrapolation of his surname a good fit for the scythe squad.
Paul has a television, which he insists is for ‘creative reasons’ involving digital photograph viewing.
Marshall “Sheriff” Roberts
Marshall represents the 5th generation on a family holding in the Huon. But he’s been to Hobart twice.
Marshall is the other half of Bladerunners. His introduction to scything was quite unplanned: Marshall’s first scythe was given to him as a gift in 2009, by friends who regularly drove past his roadside home – i.e. in a manner similar to your true friends telling you that you suffer from halitosis. In the right situation, he now prefers to use a scythe over the many other options available to him on a commercial farm.
Marshall has a television. He’s sorry.
When he mows hay at Tony’s place, Marshall wears Hard Yakka drill pants and wishes he had a kilt, or some nappy rash cream.
Marshall splits his time between farming and computing, and enjoys picking up an instrument and playing the same piece over and over again in an effort to convince himself he could’ve been a musician. At the time of writing, his incomplete personal projects include a bathroom renovation, weaning a hand-reared calf, plastering his son’s bedroom, a degree in literary studies, and a websi…