This excavating device was used by farmers to dig ponds and for digging for basements of new houses.  A team of horses would be hooked up to the loop on the front bar.  As the horses moved forward, the farmer would lift up on the handles extending from the back sides thus tipping the front edge of the pan until it was filled with dirt.  The farmer then drove the horses to the spill area, emptied the pan, and then brought the horses back to fill the pan again.  Obviously, this slow process required a lot of time to complete an excavation.