Keeping cats out of the veggie garden

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This post is not about cats or vegetable gardens, but I will get to that later. It is about an old fashioned tool, a scythe. Yes, scythe, like in Grim Reaper; and no, not for a Halloween costume. A few weeks ago I ordered a ditch scythe from Scythe Supplies, a company located in Maine. After measuring my height, arm length and distance from ground to hip, I sent the info with payment off to Perry, Maine, and waited impatiently for my very own scythe to be made and shipped.

It just came! I am super excited. It arrived in a long, surprisingly light mailing tube. Opening it I find several items wrapped in a local newspaper from June 10, 2011. In fact, there is almost no plastic in the package, either as wrapping or as part of the tool. The newspaper, The Quoddy Times, proudly informs readers that it is the “Most Easterly Newspaper Published in the United States.” Immediately I notice an article called Backyard Gardener: “Cats in the garden.” Putting the beautiful parts aside, I read author, Jo Tilley, discussing cat poop in her vegetable garden and the conundrum of how to keep cats out. Since chemical deterrents, serious fencing, and plastic forks buried with the tines pointing up, are not for her, she hits on something that works, at least so far. It is placing prickly apple tree branches, from a recently pruned tree, to cover the garden surface with the something uninviting to kitties. I love the temporary solution – she plans to put up more serious fencing in the future – and right away feel a kinship with a fellow gardener on the other side of the country.

Turning back to the objects at hand, I see my name written in ink with the measurements I sent, further reinforcing the connection between product and client. This was not something stamped out by machine half way around the world, rather it was carefully crafted by my countrymen, and yes, probably it is more expensive than a mass-produced scythe would be. I did not spend the extra money frivolously, though. I believe that it is a better product, one that will work well and last a long time. The personal connection is an added benefit, but an important one, nonetheless.

Individually labeled parts of the snath. The main shaft is made of native white ash and the handles are rock maple or birch (they seem like birch to me).

Scythe parts. The only plastic things in the package are a blue flag to highlight the key for the ring clamp, tape and a small plastic bag for the peeing jig, no styrofoam peanuts or even bubble wrap.

In addition to the parts, there are pages with information on how to construct, use, and care for the scythe. There is also a book, The Scythe Book by David Resemer, addendum on Practical Use of the Scythe by Peter Vido. I can barely contain my excitement.

After reading the instructions on snath assembly, I dry fit the parts together, grab my camera to photograph the process, and retreat to my office to write about it. Tomorrow I will glue it and hopefully be ready to give it a whirl in a few days, after I have read more on the art of scything.

Scythe blade, light weight but very sharp, is manufactured in Austria. Apparently American scythes are not nearly as easy to use as the European versions.

Lower handle, made of smoothly sanded wood, feels so good to hold.

Dry fitted scythe. Can you just see me swinging this thing!

One thought on “Keeping cats out of the veggie garden

  1. sima

    Can't wait to hear about how it performs and to see photos of you swinging it!

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