Monday, April 28, 2014

"Bad Mowing" from 1744

Illustration from The Gentleman's and London Magazine, by John Exshaw, November 1763

A book published in 1744 describes the "misfortunes" and "bad mowing" that result from scything grass without using "even, round, low, sweeping" strokes:   
Lopping In
This is done when a mower heaves up his scythe eighteen Inches or more from the ground, and generally with a swing from the right first, lops in before him to the left, by which he is sometimes forced to chop twice instead of once, and then part of the grass is so small that the rake can't take it, which causes a considerable loss in a large field...
Ribbing Grass
This is occasioned by the mower's saving himself some labour at first and therefore he strikes short strokes; whereas, if he took a round, even, sweeping cut, it would prevent this loss; for by this sort of bad mowing, there is a great deal of grass left uncut, as appears by the ribs or semicircles remaining behind...

Also described are the problems arising from not honing the blade frequently enough:
Driving a Scythe in Mowing
This is likewise thought to be wrong management; for if a scythe is mowed too long with, before it is whetted, they must whet so much that it soon acquires a thick edge, and then there must be the more labour and time employed in mowing, besides mowing the grass, very much to the farmer's disadvantage...

Later, the lay of the blade and the hafting angle are addressed with an example of a young man who couldn't keep up with the rest of the mowers due to his ill-fitted scythe: old mower took pity on him, and altered his scythe, by hanging it wider and flatter for mowing; whereas, before, he had hung it so that the edge cut too low, and the scythe hung too narrow, which obliged him to strike three strokes to the company's two, to keep up with them. But after this alteration, he mowed as well as the best of them.
Quoted from: The Modern Husbandman, or The Practice of Farming, by William Ellis, 1744


Illustration from The Gentleman's and London Magazine: Or Monthly Chronologer, November 1763, by John Exshaw, p. 644

Text from The Modern Husbandman, or The Practice of Farming, by William EllisPrinted for, and sold by T. Osborne and M. Cooper, London, 1744; For the Month of June, pages 96-97

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