A manure fork was an essential tool on a farm for cleaning out barns and spreading manure for fertilizer. Manure is heavy and laced with straw and the forks work better than a shovel. Young boys living on a farm quickly learned from older male relatives how to use this indispensable tool. The owner of this fork, Consider Dickinson (1761-1854) burned his initials into the handle. Although the fields were owned by individual farmers, the men often cared for them collectively; branding one's tools with initials was a practical way to assure their return at the end of a day.