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This instrument is a common farming tool called The Fork. This instrument is an antique tool used for collecting and moving bales of hay. The Fork is a two prong instrument with a long corkscrew like middle piece. The two metal prongs are approximately 20 inches in length with the middle piece being approximately 22 inches in length. Above the metal prongs is a wooden piece that hold all of the prongs together as well as it sports a hand crank and has a little of a foot of rope attached to it. Giving some research about the construction of hay sheds it is possible that this tool could have been attached to a pulley mechanism on a ceiling. Most hay sheds are three-sided buildings with varying height and depth adjusted for the amount of hay that is bound and collected in the shed at any given time. While doors can be added to hay sheds to protect the hay from elements this is a more modern way to build these sheds and it is unlikely that one would have been used at the time that the Fork was used on farms. Then it is probable that a horse would then be used to lower and lift the Fork into bales of hay. Once lowered into a hay stack the crank located on the top of the Fork can then be used to tighten the hold on the bale. After the bale was bound and moved to a new location the process could be started again. A different use for this device could be that after hay was already bound the fork was used to transfer bales of hay from a hay shed into feeding trough for animals such as horses, cattle and goats. According to the label on the Fork the instrument was made in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Since the Fork is made almost entirely of metal it would have had to be kept from rust at all times. There is a rope attached to the top end of the Fork and it can be inferred that this was used to hang the Fork when it was out of use in a dry environment. To clean the Fork one must use sandpaper to remove any rust from the device. Also according to the label if the Fork gets sticky with hay residue to clean it all one needs is to rub kerosene oil along the metal until it is no longer sticky. The fork when it was created at be in direct competition with the pitchfork. A device created in the middle ages to move and transfer hay from various locations. There is no evidence on the device to show when it was created or exactly what company made it, but since the label states that the Fork was being manufactured in Grand Rapids, Michigan it can be inferred that it was made after 1826; since that was the year that Grand Rapids became a city. It is also probable that the device was created before 1876 when Grand Rapids started to boom as a furniture power. Claudia Peterson, 11/5/2015

Collection Tier:
Tier 2

Farming Tools ➔ Farm Tool, Hay Bale Mover

This item appears to be an agricultural tool used to move bales of hay. It consists of a wooden top portion with two long metal spikes at either end protruding downward. In the middle there is a a ratcheting corkscrew mechanism that could be screwed into a bale of hay.;The Museum collects agricultural implements, of which this is an interesting example. The odd form and Grand Rapids provenance make this a particularly interesting piece.;This group of items was part of a small museum at Hope College in the early twentieth century. The items were collected by the Messengers of Hope, a group of Hope alumni engaged in missionary work all over the world. As part of their organization's mission the Messengers of Hope collected items from the various cultures they worked with and sent them back to the college in the hope of inspiring future generations of missionaries.
circa 1910
Wood, Metal
3" h 18" w 6" d
Current Location Status:
In Storage
Gift Of Hope College
Hope College
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