This tool at Smith’s Tavern is a hay baling hook used to secure and move bales of hay. Securing and moving hay bales with maximum efficiency can save farmers precious time and energy, making tedious work much more enjoyable. Imagine, day in and day out, having to bend over and manually grab thousands of haystacks—the hay is often packed too tight for gripping, especially with bulky gloves in the wintertime, resulting in plenty of sore limbs and frustrated feelings. When it comes to smooth transportation, no other kind of instrument will do the job like a hay bale hook.
The tool has a long wooden “T” shaped handle, since metal is cold to the touch in winter, and a curved iron hook. T-shaped handles ensure less slippage yet can cause blisters between the fingers (even when worn with glove protection). They can be harder to grasp, causing soreness. Regarding the hook, the curvier the hook, the easier it is to miss when turning loose the bales and to lose the hook along with the bale. A good guideline to consider: less curve for shorter arms and more for longer ones. The Smith’s Tavern tool is short and less curve so probably was used by smaller workers.