After 42 years farming a handsome little square mile of western Iowa, my old man hung up his clodhoppers a few years ago for a well-deserved rest. Like a lot of retirees, Hawkdad decided to take up collecting, with a focus on primative farm equipment and toys. Since then he has amassed an impressive collection of unique agricultural objects; unusual hand tools, planter lids and tractor seats, turn-of-the-century advertising signage, antique toy tractors and horses. It's all interesting, but some of it is "interesting" in the same way an H.R. Giger painting is interesting: cool, mechanical, but indescribably creepy. Hooterville steampunk meets the Tower of London. Rather than try to describe it, here are some pictures I took during a recent visit.
For an unsuspecting ear of corn in 1907, this is how the harvest inquisition began: with cornhusking gloves.
For those ears that put up a big struggle, spiked thumbshrouds to strip the delicate husks.
The victims, splayed on spikes. What fate now awaits them?
You guessed it: the box sheller. Hawkdad owns about 100 of these of various vintage and design.
And for those who really put up a struggle, the dreaded Corn King. Hawkdad has more than a dozen similar floor shellers.
From there, their still-beating kernels are fed into the crucible of the bin separator.
But corn is hardly the only vegetable to face doom in this tableau of the macabre. Pity the poor apple skinned alive by the fiendish cast iron Kleen Kutter:
Or those stubborn pecans who face the wrath of high-leverage nut crackers.
And this is only the vegetable portion of our tour. Let's now turn to the animal devices. Pregnant women, persons with heart ailments and PETA member are encouraged to exit now.
Bull pullers: insert one of these in the snout of a recalcitrant bovine, grip tight, and he will follow you anywhere.
Calf weaners, designed to hasten the transition to solid food. Put one of these babies on a calf's snout, and his momma will be less than enthusiastic about the whole nursing experience.
Are your cattle goring one another in the livestock pen? Nip that problem in the bud with the "Leavitt Dehorning Clippers."
Ham technology: snout ringers, hog pullers, and ear-notchers.
Hog snout bobbers, wire fence cow yoke, and a couple of devices you don't even want to know about. Trust me.
Thus concludes our tour of Hawkdad's Little Dungeon on the Prairie, gift shop is on your left. Sweet dreams, and remember: if your car ever breaks down at night on a lonely two lane Iowa blacktop, be careful whose door you go knocking on.
UPDATE! From Coop (with apologies to Grant Wood), "Iowa Cenobite"