There’s no doing without hay in the village. The cows eat it, and the sheep, and the hens need loads of it for their nests. And it comes in handy for people too, when they stuff their mattresses with it and lie on them forevermore, because the scent is just marvelous.
The collective farm is serious about hay-making. There’s tractors for that, and all sorts of technical stuff. But the smallholders are on their own. So they muster a few people together and are hauled to a hay meadow far away and off limits to any tractor.
They mow by hand, old school, with a scythe. And what’s a scythe? A wooden handle with a blade on the end (they call it a litovka around here). You have to have the knack of it, and the scythe has to fit you just right, the handle not too long or too short. The mowers always work in a staggered line, one behind the other, so you won’t poke your neighbor with the sharp end.
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Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.
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