The “What’s This?” item pictured two weeks ago came from Stan Shavlik, from Linwood, Neb. He called it a “flail” and that’s what some of our readers called it, too.
Dennis Schlichting of Rosalie, Neb., said the item “is not some medieval battle equipment, but a very early threshing machine. In parts of the country, small grains were cut and hauled into barns where, when dried or slack time, it was spread out on the floor, termed the threshing floor.
“The item pictured is called a flail. It was handled by the long skinny shaft and swung at the straw laying on the floor so that the heavy hinged piece hit the hay or floor flat. In this way, it knocked the grain loose from the straw. After beating the grain loose, a special winnowing fork was used to remove the straw from the floor to either feed to livestock or use as bedding.
“Then the grain was scooped up and fanned to remove hulls and chaff and new straw was spread and the whole procedure was started all over.”
Others who responded with similar answers:
It looks like a thresher or thrasher, used to beat the grain out of the chaff of small grains by hand. It seems like it would be a back breaking job, and not the most efficient. I’m sure the early farmers hailed the new mechanical threshing machines as a wonderful improvement. John Rosman, Harlan, Iowa
I think it is a grain or wheat flail used for separating grain from husks. Dave Oliver, Weeping Water, Neb.
The object … is called a “flail” or “flailer.” I’ve never seen one used in the USA, however, at a historical farm show in Germany a few years ago, they demonstrated using a flail on wheat. It is used to beat the grain off the stems of the plant. George DeWitt, Council Bluffs, Iowa
We believe the tool is a flailing tool, used to pound grain from the straw. The straw was swept away and the grain picked up. Deciding what the tools are is a fun time for our morning coffee group at Mel’s Bar in Scribner. Duane Muller, Scribner, Neb.