Peter Vido, 1950 - 2018
By Alexander Vido, originally published by ScytheWorks.
Peter once told me that in some Austrian villages, where haymaking with a scythe was a common practice, they referred to a man’s passing by saying: “He is a mower no more.” Now, six months after we learned about his cancer, with sadness I say: “Peter is a mower no more...” This expression is even more applicable since the scythe became first his passion, then the mission of his life.
Peter will be missed by his friends and family, especially his wife, Faye, and daughter, Ashley, with whom he shared the care of their land and animals. They selflessly looked after him on the farm till the very end.
Even though Peter liked to keep his feet on the ground, he was guided by his vision of the bigger picture, and would often neglect the ‘small necessities’ of daily life. I know their lifestyle was often romanticized, but their focus was on meaningful participation in human existence, rather than an idyllic life on the farm.
A scythe came to Peter’s attention quite innocently, and it soon replaced the horse-drawn sickle mower in their haymaking activities. To better understand the scythe, Peter went directly to the original sources. He travelled to Europe to visit scythe manufacturers, and went to villages to meet with old-timers for whom the scythe was indispensable. He observed the traditional ways the tools were used, and then tested and compared them, seeking the most efficient options. He encouraged others to do likewise. In his view, while some traditions are necessary to sustain a culture, they might also be restrictive, and therefore need to be questioned. He shared his observations with the scythe producers and encouraged them to implement changes to benefit the scythe users. He inspired, organized, and galvanized a new wave of scythe culture in Europe and North America.
At times Peter was demanding, but what he demanded of others he was always ready to match himself. He had little tolerance for someone misrepresenting the facts, especially for their own personal gain.
Peter was my instructor when I visited their farm, and later became my mentor when I decided to take the scythe to Nepal and eventually to India. His long-standing intention was to spread the use of scythes as appropriate technology for small farms around the world. At times our approaches may have differed, but we never questioned our shared vision. Since we lived nearly 6000 km apart, at opposite ends of Canada, we would spend countless hours on the phone. He regularly gave me 'tutorials' as we considered designs, discussed techniques, shared experiences, and made plans, looking for a ‘better way’.
It would not have been an exaggeration to refer to Peter as a ‘Living Scythe Library’. He had the ability to acquire, sort, and store huge amounts of information on the subject, and he was always ready to share it freely. Peter wasn’t a 'simple' farmer. I always thought of him as a visionary intellectual living on a farm, who viewed himself as a steward of the land in his care.
I will miss my brother greatly...