25 November 2012

Le balai-ramasseur

One of the most interesting and useful pieces of equipment we acquired when we bought this house  nearly 10 years ago is something that is apparently called « un balai-ramasseur » — a lawn sweeper used for picking up autumn leaves. (A balai is a broom, and ramasseur derives from the verb ramasser meaning "to pick up" or "gather.")

It works on the principle of an old-style carpet sweeper. It doesn't have a motor — you just push it. There's a brush on the axle between the wheels that sweeps up leaves (in this case) or dust (in the case of a carpet sweeper). The lawn sweeper has a canvas bag that collects the leaves as you roll the apparatus around your yard.

Progress on the leaf front at La Renaudière

And it works really well. It's quiet. It doesn't burn gas or diesel fuel. It doesn't require a power cord. After trying to use the lawn mower to pick up the leaves, Walt pulled the old push sweeper out of the garden shed yesterday morning and made quick work of sweeping up a lot of leaves that had fallen out of our apple and linden trees this week. The grass catcher on the lawn mower was just too small for the job.

The balai-ramasseur we found in the garden shed when we arrived here in 2003

It's a heck of a lot easier than raking — which is what I was doing yesterday morning out front on the driveway, where another ton of maple leaves had fallen. At this point, there are no more maple leaves on the two trees out there — heureusement ! The lawn sweeper is also a lot less annoying and less polluting than those gas-powered leaf blowers that everybody uses these days.

Walt trying the leaf sweeper on the gravel path — the leaves there
were too wet and mashed down for sweeping, though

We had high winds overnight. In a few minutes, I'll go out and see if all the leaves we swept up and raked up — which we piled neatly on the vegetable garden plots — have just blown all over the yard again.


  1. We used to have one of these when I was a kid (in central PA). It was my job to sweep up the leaves, which then got put into a great pile into which we kids were happy to jump. I'd never seen one here. We're stuck with raking. You're right, those blowers are a nuisance.

  2. We have a leaf blower but rarely use it because it's such a noisy, unpleasant thing to use and not that effective either. So we resort to a rake, which, on a nice sunny day is not too much of a chore.

    Your sweeper looks a great idea.

  3. omg I want one for all my neighbors who blow leaves at 9 am (and I want one too to keep from raking)

  4. We had one of those leaf sweepers in NJ, too. I don't remember when I last saw it, but I had forgotten all about it. Is this the first time you've actually used this one?

  5. We used it a few times when we first got here, but stopped because when we used it, the leaves were wet. It works best with dry leaves. This year, the leaves were pretty dry, so it worked great.

  6. Never seen a balai-ramasseur like that, but it sounds good. It's not as tedious as a rake, or as annoying as a noisy machine.

    I don't live in a place like that, but when I travel I think dad some tines, and only sometimes, making such work must be some calm. But then, how was it going to be calm with a noisy machine!! So I like that kind of 'silent vacuum cleaner' to pick up leaves.

    And, wow, I have read you're making confit de canard! I wan to confit my own canard, instead of using shop-bought before Christmas.
    Yours must be great, using wings, that I never found at supermarket, I have to satisfy with legs.


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