A manure fork was a useful 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 quickly learned from older male family members how to use this tool. The owner of this fork, Consider Dickinson (1761-1854), burned his initials into the handle. Although each farmer owned his fields, the men often cared for them together. Branding one's tools with initials was a way to make sure that they were returned at the end of a day.