Posts Tagged ‘scythe’

No, I haven’t cut myself.

I did, however, develop a nasty case of tiny, red, itchy blisters on the backs of both hands late Saturday afternoon after spending an half an hour Saturday morning scything. It worse when I woke up Sunday morning. I assumed I had touched some stinging nettles, or something similar without noticing it, which was causing the reaction. It was similar to something I’d had occasionally before, which I always assumed was some kind of heat rash or contact dermatitis from touching some plant or other.

One of the local Ontarians we were talking to at Music in the Pines noticed me scratching and diagnosed it as a Wild Parsnip burn.

Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) is all over the place out here. The juice from the stem and leaves contains “furocoumarins” chemicals that makes your skin ultra-sensitive to UV radiation. So if you get Wild Parsnip juice on your skin (say, from cleaning the cuttings off your scythe blade before you re-sharpen it) and then your skin is exposed to sunlight, you get a bad burn. Which explains why I only got it on the back of my hands – my palms are busy holding the handles of the scythe, and thus aren’t exposed to sunlight.

Now I’m going to have to wear gloves to scythe. Bah. And be a lot more careful what I touch when I’m out in the fields walking the dog. Double-Bah!

There’s some info from the Ontario government about Wild Parsnip here: Plants You Don’t Want to Touch!.

It’s one of the few things that warrants¬†using herbicides to control, because it can very easily cause second-degree burns – which you don’t feel at the time, and don’t even know about until 24 to 48 hours later!¬†

This isn’t going to stop me from (very, very carefully) harvesting some for dinner in the fall.

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