Monday, December 28, 2015

I used to mow at the head of the crew...


Text version:


The clash and the clatter of mowing-machines
Float up where the old man stands and leans
His trembling hands on the worn old snath,
As he looks afar in the broadening path,
Where the shivering grasses melt beneath
A seven foot bar and its chattering teeth.

When a man gits old, says he,
When a man gits old,
He is mighty small pettaters
As I've just been told.

I used to mow at the head of the crew,
And I cut a swath that was wide as two.
Covered a yard, sah, at every sweep;
The man that follered me had to leap.
I made the best of the critters squeal,
And nary a feller could nick my heel.
The crowd that follered, they took my road
As I walked away from the best that mowed.
But I can't keep up with the boys no more,
My arms are stiff and my cords are sore:
And they've given this rusty scythe to me
-- It has hung two years in an apple tree --
And told me to trim along the edge
Where the mowing-machine has skipped the ledge.

It seems, sah, skurcely a year ago
That I was a-showin' 'em how to mow,
A-showin' em how, with the tanglin' grass
Topplin' and fallin', to let me pass;
A-showing 'em how, with a five-foot steel,
And never a man who could nick my heel.
But now it's the day of the hot young blood,
And I'm doin' the job of the fuddy dud;
Hacking the sides of the dusty road
And the corner clumps where the men ain't mowed.
And that's the way, a man gits told,
He's smaller pettaters when he grows old.

-- by Holman F. Day


Whetting the scythe
by Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945), 1905

Whitworth Art Gallery,
The University of Manchester

Up in Maine: Stories of Yankee Life Told in Verse
by Holman F. Day
Boston,  Small, Maynard & Company,  1901, p. 57

Google Books copy

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Convertible field anvil

© Slovenský ľudový umelecký kolektív

A short anvil can be converted to a field anvil by mounting it into an easily-carried wooden base having a point that's driven into the ground. This type of field anvil was traditionally used in Slovakia, as shown in the above photograph (with a wide anvil) and the drawing below (with a narrow anvil).

© Slovenský ľudový umelecký kolektív

A metal band reinforces the top to keep the wood from splitting. When it's time to use the field anvil, it can be driven into the ground using the peening hammer without causing any damage to the hammer or anvil, as long as it's done while a piece of hardwood is held in place as a cushion between the hammer and anvil. (The hardwood "cushion" can be small enough to easily fit into a pocket.)

Alexander Vido made a modern version of this Slovakian field anvil, using hardwood with a short length of copper pipe to reinforce the top portion. Before the bottom portion was shaped into a point, it was drilled to install a lag screw, and then the head of the lag screw was cut and filed (or ground) to a point. The wooden point was then shaped to fit into a large washer that acts as a base in contact with the ground.


Centrum pre tradičnú ľudovú kultúru, SĽUK -- Slovenský ľudový umelecký kolektív (The Centre for traditional folk culture, SĽUK -- Slovak Folk Art Ensemble),

Photo P. Slavkovský, 1972. Archives of the Institute of Ethnology negatives.

Archive drawings SNM Martin.

Two photos by Alexander Vido.