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Hand-mowing; a vanishing farming skill

MIDDLEBURY Some call it hand mowing, some say scything either way, its the same thing. A metal blade called a scythe and a long handle called a snath with two smaller handles, one for each hand used to cut standing hay or grain. Little did anyone know when this contest started at Addison County Field Days in 1978 that it would continue to be popular and be recognized far beyond the county. In March, a phone call from Alberta, Canada, by a contributing editor to the Farm Show magazine, published in Minnesota, resulted in an article in the May-June issue. When the Maritime Hand Mowers Contest stared in Nova Scotia in 2004, we were contacted for information and many of our rules and classes are being used. Entries for this years Hand Mowing Contest at Addison County Fair and Field Days, Thursday, Aug. 7, are beginning to come in. There were 26 contestants last year, 18 Vermonters, 10 from Addison County, two from the state of Georgia and one each from New Brunswick, Canada, New Hampshire, the Netherlands, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. The 6 classes are: 1. Men, age 17 through 59; 2. Seasoned ages, ages 60 through 79; 3. Old bucks and does, open to anyone; 5. Women; 6. Roger Shattuck Memorial, 80 years and over. Youth, women, and 80 and over mow a 15 foot strip and all others mow 25 feet. Judging is based on time, width of cut, height and evenness of stubble and evenness at the end of the swath. Everyone gets credit for finishing the course. Entry forms are available and should be sent to Lucien D; Paquette, 397 Weybridge St., Middlebury, Vt. 05753, no later than July 30. For more information, 802-388-2898, e-mail L2Paquette@aol.com.

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