Then, and now
I'm fortunate to live in a place where traditional farming is still alive. Not in a big scale, nor run by a museum but by a group of local farmers who think it's important to maintain the enormous diversity of plants you find in meadows, and so harvest a few of them in the traditional way using scythes, people and horses. Not only because they are interested in the historical side of farming or of the nostalgic value, but mostly because it's the best, most ecological and nature friendly way to do it.
This particular type of meadow is called a "leafmeadow" and the reasoning behind it is as follows: The meadow is where farmers used to fetch their hay so they could use it as winter feed for their animals. Grass was cut with scythes and the trees branches were trimmed and pruned so that the leaves could also be used as food for the animals. Farming in those days was self sufficient and the number of animals you could have on your farm was dependant on how much feed you could harvest for them. This, in turn, decided how much manure you would get from them to spread on your fields, for growing your own food. Easy to understand.
The harvest the farmers get these days is still being used as winter feed for their animals but they're hardly as dependant as they once were. When the hay has been cut it is then gathered and stacked to dry by the windrow you see in the foto, pulled by a horse, of course.