Last Friday I asked you what this very intimidating object might be:
I only got two responses! I thought for sure something this crazy looking would have you all intrigued. But those I got were... well, they were very creative!
"I'm gonna guess: hoof spikes for battle horses!"
"From the time of its invention in 1809 up until the civil war, the swingbarb was used by whaling ships for unspeakable purposes."
Interesting thoughts, but I'm afraid they are incorrect. As it happens, my research has led me to believe that our records are incorrect for this object as well. Our records say that this is a spur. And that does make some sense - it's pointy, has loops to be tied to something, and is adjustable. But that's not right. Get this: It's a device to wean a calf from its mother. Specifically it is a spiked calf weaner (link goes to a modern version). You can see an old version at this online auction site (lot #8).
This is a device which is worn by the calf as a nose ring, making it the most punk of all the barnyard animals. The outward facing spikes (which are not really sharp) poke the mother cow when the calf attempts to nurse, which makes her reject the calf's attempts. They also make it difficult for the calf to suckle. Thus the calf is forced to eat grains and so forth.