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Yard Work Unplugged: Scything’s Quiet Comeback

Photo Essay: Cut the grass—and the noise—with this rare opportunity to see YES! staffers work up a sweat!

Doug and Sharon Scything photo by Paul Dunn

Last May, scything expert Alexander Vido conducted a two-day workshop at the home of Doug Pibel and Sharon Booth, YES! Magazine’s managing editor and circulation design manager. Click here to view the photo essay and see what they learned.

Photos by Paul Dunn.

It’s a moderate workout, a sort of meditation, and, best of all, it cuts the grass quietly.

Scything is an ancient form of mowing that uses the scythe—an elegant tool with a curved blade attached to a long handle—to shear lawns and harvest fields.

Scythes have been around for 2,500 years, and were in common use well into the machine age. They’re still used in areas of the Near East and Europe, from the Balkans to the Basque country (where today, scything competitions remain a popular traditional sport, called segalaritza). 

In the United States, they’re making a comeback—and not just in the places you’d expect. According to the Wall Street Journal, 10 years ago scythe sales hovered in the dozens. Today, the Journal reports, they’re close to 10,000—a number that includes users in cities and suburbs, not just farmers.

Thanks to the efforts of a few pioneers—among them brothers Peter and Alexander Vido and Botan Anderson—there’s a wealth of information on the Web about scythe use, and sources for high-quality tools (check out scytheworks.ca and onescytherevolution.com). 

If nothing else, scything lets you use cool new words like snath, peening, and hafting. And your neighbors will love you on weekend mornings.


Doug Pibel wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. Doug is managing editor of YES!

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