ON July 24th we had a blistering hot day at Blackhaugh farm for this years festival, over 200 people came along!
By 9.30 most of the competition squares had been prepared, the signs were all in place, structures up and the chairs and straw bales were ready for play and use. Food vans were up to heat and the five presenters were raring to go. There was still a fair amount of scything to be done in the main area which was gradually mown during the morning by anyone up for it.
Monica Griesbaum gave a fascinating talk about tea growing in Scotland, followed by an inspiring and much applauded talk from Fiona Guest about meadows. Will Sutherland demonstrated and promoted the A-frame scythe which he makes and then fits with modern blades and Charlie Quinnell showed what the Scandanavian scythe is capable of as well as feeding us lots of other insights into scything and hay making in Scotland. Andi Rickard completed the quintet of talks by showing us her peening techniques both freehand and with jig.
Out in the field John Grundy allowed a plethora of novices the chance to try scything and his patience and calming attitude were appreciated by all. There was also a lot of camaraderie with experts helping novices set up their scythes and impromptu peening sessions and honing sessions going on. Rob Brodie took 30 entrants through the competition heats and narrowed these down to the eight finalists who later competed for the champions Quaich.
Up the slope at the top of the farm was a well attended market garden tour from Johnny Agnew. Lou and Frank who also work on the Farm coordinated the scything of a 30m x 30m square of green manure. We all admired what a fruitful and abundant landscape that is being created on the farm.
The competition finals started at 3pm and after some delibaration from the 3 judges it was announced that the Scottish Champion for 2021 is Andi Rickard. A well deserved winner and we hope she will come back to defend her crown next time.
The sward mown over the weekend was collected up by Andrew Lear and will be put to good use feeding various animals on the farm this winter.
The Scythe shop sold out which has to be a good thing and the cider was flowing earlier than usual too – maybe not quite such a good thing?!
The size of square mowed was 5metre x 5metre.
The Gairloch Gathering scoring method was used to create one overall winner. Time is converted to seconds. Points is out of 20 – 1 being the best 20 the worst. The points are then multiplied by 10 and added to the time giving a total score. The lowest points wins.
Please note Charlie Quinnell was using his home made scandanavian style snath, Angus Simpson was using an old A-frame scythe with original hardened steel blade and Mario Pager was using a turk scythe.
Time (mins) Quality time (secs) quality x 10 total points
Andi Rickard 3.26 4 202 40 242
Charlie Quinnell 3.44 5 224 50 274
John Pears 3.46 15 226 150 376
Mario Pager 6.12 11 372 110 482
Angus Simpson 6.50 12 410 120 530
Ewan Thain 8.12 9 492 90 582
Adam Salter 7.31 14 451 140 591
John Grundy 12.18 7 738 70 808