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Soon we will see the combine harvesters rolling across the farm fields harvesting the crops. They will cut, and separate the grains from their stalks. They are monuments to man's ingenuity. The machines free most of humanity to pursue other endeavors that make all our lives easier and better. The scythe is what was used to cut cereal crops before the Industrial Revolution. The fittest men of the village would be the mowers and the older men, women and children would rake and stack the sheaves of grain to dry in the sun. Sometimes a village would hire professional itinerary mowers. The grain harvest would always take place during the hottest and driest part of the year. It was physical and exhausting work for all those involved. During the breaks everyone would collapse under a shade tree, to nap, drink ale, eat a snack of cheese and bread. The grain harvest was always a race against the weather. People pushed themselves hard to beat the rains so they could get the grain dried and into a barn. I have a scythe, that I use to mow clover to feed the chickens. It doesn't destroy my hearing, rattle me to death nor stink of gas. It certainly can't do the work of a gas operated machine, but it certainly is a beautiful tool that moves gracefully with the body. The swoosh it makes as it cuts is music to the ears. U.S. Forces in the Iraq war won hearts and minds by giving Iraqi peasant farmers scythe blades as gifts. Whoever came up with that idea should have been made general and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. That is fine diplomacy!

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