Monday, 28 August 2017

Scything on a Sunday


Scything is apparently the thing to do these days.

Who wouldn’t want to cut grass in a very slow, energy draining way that gives you multiple blisters and leaves hitherto unknown muscles aching?

Actually, it IS great fun. Though I’ve not yet seen any Poldark-esque figures, and his technique really was all wrong!


Why have I been scything? Because a local community group I volunteer with looks after a couple of meadows in York (the Poppy Road Project). Jonathan (master scyther) from St Nick’s conservation team has been teaching us how to scythe with traditional Austrian tools as a way to care for the ground.

It’s meant learning a whole new practical skill from scratch.

You have to think about your knees, moving your weight, holding the scythe, getting it the right distance from the ground, leaning over it a little, not digging the blade into the ground, getting a really big arc, stepping forward in time with the blade, and sharpening the darn thing every 5 minutes. (and that’s just the stuff I remembered)

Jonathan makes it look genuinely effortless. His posture is amazing, the ground clears in front of him with terrifying speed, and he hardly seems to be concentrating at all.

I’m reliably informed that for lots of dog-owners, it feels a bit like that when one of our trainers borrows your dog to demonstrate something in class.

Suddenly your dog is doing this amazing stuff, the trainer is managing the leash + clicker + treats and looks relaxed.

Inspiring, but also potentially pretty frustrating!

Dog training actually isn’t that easy, and neither is scything. With a bit of careful guidance and trying stuff out you can get some results.

The really good stuff happens when
  • you’re given just one or two things to concentrate on at a time.
  • your trainer gives you super-targeted feedback, and doesn’t let you keep making big mistakes.
  • you feel able to try the new ideas out, and the support is there to help you.
I’m loving learning a new skill from a great teacher, and I really hope you get the same experience in our classes, workshops and 1-2-1 sessions.

Remember – dog training is our job and we do it every day of the week. If we make it look easy, that’s just because we’ve had a LOT of practice, and a lot of good feedback.

If you’re struggling, or feel stuck – ask us for help. You can guarantee that I ask Jonathan lots of questions during the scything workshops!

I hope you had a wonderful bank holiday weekend whatever you got up to.

Morag and the Collie Girls

PS the girls didn’t help with the scything, instead they supervised a Scentwork workshop on Saturday and enjoyed an early morning trip to the Yorkshire Arboretum on Sunday before I went to collect scything blisters.

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