On Sunday and Monday, Golden Ears hosted a scything seminar. Chuck Hayes shared his knowledge and experience; with a bit of coaching thrown in during the actual scything. Sunday focused on the blades -- reconditioning old blades, comparing Chuck’s old, well-maintained blades with newly made blades, and sharpening (we’ll get to that later). Different snath (handle) styles were also discussed, with American ones having a curved aluminum shaft with two handles and European ones having a straight shaft with either one or two handles.
Jigs were set up so that when peening (hammering), the impact was placed adjacent to the edge of the blade. This helps to make the blade thinner, which, in turn, makes sharpening easier. Each participant worked with a peening kit, complete with sharpening stone, that they took home with them. Who knew that blades need to be sharpened with a wet stone every 5 to 6 minutes? It makes sense when you think of the acres of scything that was done years ago -- a sharp blade meant less struggle and fatigue.
A huge thanks to Alexander at scytheworks.ca for getting us the peening kits in a speedy fashion, just in time for the seminar!
Early Monday morning, the group went out and scythed a 1/4 acre section of barley. It was crisp and dewy -- perfect conditions for a clean cut. Chuck provided feedback on posture and motion to improve efficiency and endurance. An ‘echelon formation’ was used to work through the patch -- each person used a staggered start (so the person in front of them didn’t lose their ankles!), and once they were finished their row, they sharpened their blade and cycled around to start again. It was great to watch the flow of it, and it was easy to imagine that once a crew was well-practiced, it wouldn’t take long at all to get through a lot of grass.
In only an hour, the section was mowed down; ready for raking and stooking. This grain will probably go to our cows before the pigs are moved in. For half the cost of a weed whacker, you can mow your grass with no fuel input except for a bit of elbow grease (and practice)!
Two Fridays ago, our large cooler space broke down. Horrible. This made things quite complicated, on a day of the week that was already very busy as we prepared for the Saturday market and had Lauren shooting B-roll footage for the farm video that is being produced.
An incredibly heavy rainfall a couple of days prior caused a short in the compressor that runs the cooling unit. While figuring out whether a part could be replaced, or if the whole unit would need replacing, Sam came to the rescue and finished installing the air conditioner/Coolbot combination in the small cooler. By the time we needed to refrigerate market-ready veggies, the small cooler was up and running. Thank goodness!
Also on that Friday, Johan continued to wire lighting into the prep area and both coolers. This was a huge help! We can now easily identify bins in dark corners, carry out quality control while bagging, and see the scale when we’re weighing harvested crops. Thanks, Johan : ).
Next to all of this activity (in the commercial kitchen) was Tristan, who bakes yogurt-soaked whole wheat and spelt bread, along with oat square and pies on Fridays. In the photo, you can see him and Avé mixing the dough, getting ready to proof it, weigh portions, proof it again, and bake. There is never a dull moment on the farm, but this Friday was particularly lively!
Photo credit: Martín Bustamante