Chapter: Innovation

Hay Knife

Hay knife from sickle-mower blade uses foot pressure on small metal edge Hay Knife


Over time what was once common can become uncommon or even unknown. Museums work to ensure that something is never completely forgotten. This artifact which looks like a shovel with three jagged teeth leads to many conversations with museum visitors. There are many guesses to its purpose, however it is nothing notorious, rather it is a hay knife.

As European settlers were arriving in the Grand Marais and East Beaches area they needed to provide food for their families. It was necessary to have a supply of hay on-hand to feed to their livestock. After hay has settled in a stack in can be very difficult to pull out with a pitch fork. A hay knife made it far easier. This particular hay knife was used by the farmer pushing down on the metal ledge to apply pressure to assist in cutting off hay from the compressed and tangled stack.