Scything through the Rye – a guide to traditional harvesting

How to setup, sharpen and use a scythe and organize a harvest rye or wheat by hand (based on a Hungarian example)
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Instructed by Judith Varga Lifestyle / Other
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  • Lectures 19
  • Length 1 hour
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 10/2015 English

Course Description

If you are interested in traditional harvesting – using scythes - then this course will be useful. If your interest is academic you can explore how wheat and rye was harvested in the past in Hungary. If you reap your own grain – or intend to in the future – this course will show you how it has been successfully done for generations of Hungarians.

Learn How to Harvest Grain with a Scythe

  • How to assemble and setup a scythe
  • How to sharpen and hone the scythe blade
  • How to add and adjust a cradle
  • How to use a scythe
  • How to create ties for sheaves
  • How to stack sheaves
  • How to organize your team effectively

Traditional Harvesting Techniques via Modern Online Teaching

This is a mix of my own analytical skills with the experience of my father growing up in eastern Hungary where using a scythe was a normal life skill. I break down the topics into teachable units and he shows how it is done. Reaping is filmed on location in Hungary with help from family, friends, and the local Kertbarátkör.

The course includes both PowerPoint teaching segments and video demonstrations of the techniques and an actual harvest.

There are four sections (Introduction, The Scythe, The Harvest, The Wrap-up) with over 15 lectures plus quizzes.

This course is also available in Hungarian.

What are the requirements?

  • If for academic interest only, they only will need to understand English (a Hungarian version will also be available).
  • To try out the skills they will need access to a scythe.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Setup a scythe
  • Sharpen a new or damaged scythe and maintain an edge on a working scythe
  • Organize a team to harvest grain by hand
  • Build a “kereszt” to dry the grain

Who is the target audience?

  • Anyone who is interested in traditional agricultural practices should find this interesting. Those with an interest in farming practices in eastern Europe even more so.
  • Those intending to try it out will need access to a scythe and sharpening gear – and a suitable fields of wheat or rye. Reasonable fitness is also required.
  • This course does not cover threshing or grinding grain.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction
Who your tutors are, what their expertise is and what will be covered in the course.
Some background on Gabor Varga who is providing the information on using a scythe and organizing a harvest with one.

The crop, the gear, and the people you will need to harvest grain by hand.

Checking the overview
2 questions
Section 2: The Scythe
A scythe is normally stripped down to a handle and blade when not in use. This video shows how to assemble it back again using a collar with either a wedge or bolts.
Without a cradle on your scythe it is useless for harvesting grain. This lecture explains what it is and how to make one (or two or three).
This shows how to get the angle of the blade and handle right after you have assembled your scythe (or if the settings slip).
The Scythe
2 questions

How to sharpen your scythe blade using a hammer and anvil by both theory and demonstration.

As your scythe is used (or after sharpening with a hammer and anvil) you have to hone it with a stone. This lecture shows how to do this without making your scythe blunter.
Sharpening the Scythe
4 questions
How to carry your scythe and how to use it to cut. This lecture looks at common errors to avoid.
Section 3: The Harvest
An overview on how the various tasks are shared for harvesting.
Once cut, sheaves need to be bound. This shows how to make “ropes” from the stalks from the harvest itself.
How to begin the cutting and the wall.
This explains in detail the work of the people gathering the cut grain and tying it into sheaves.
The Harvest
2 questions
This looks at why you need to stack the sheaves and how to build a “kereszt” to fulfil this requirement.
Section 4: The Wrap-up

A quick summary.


A list of people that made this video possible.

Section 5: Bonus Section
1 page

A few Hungarian harvest folksongs.


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Instructor Biography

Judith Varga, Hungarian Kiwi

I am a New Zealander of Hungarian descent with an interest in Hungarian language and culture. I have made several trips back to Hungary to visit family and friends and two to study Hungarian at the month-long Debrecen Summer School.

The discipline involved in singing with my Hungarian family made me realize that learning songs is a great way of reinforcing language skills. It just needs someone to select the right songs in the right order and add the necessary grammatical points. That would be me.

When you do my language courses, you will be gaining insights from someone who is both within and outside the Hungarian culture. I can think like an English speaker – and recognize some of the potential issues; I can compare Hungarian with other (human) languages I have dabbled in; and there is also a deep background with family who still live in Hungary and enjoy discussing (among other things) the language and music.

My initial training was as an Electrical Engineer and I have worked as such as well as a Software Engineer. Both of these taught skills in analysing and simplifying large amounts of information. In addition, I am a trained High School teacher; I have a Certificate in Dance Teaching; and have completed courses in Adult Tutor Training. When not programming, I still teach computer skills as well as exercise and dance. So, not only can I analyse and create courses - I have current experience teaching a range of topics to adults.

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