Monday, February 9, 2015

Amish Ice Harvesting

No electricity - does that mean no refrigeration for food? Absolutely not. Places like Lehman's sell refrigerators that run off propane. I once had one that ran off kerosene. There is also the old fashioned icebox. 

The icebox is a cabinet for food. A block of ice is put in to chill the interior. At one time, icemen delivered blocks of ice to homes across America.


Amish in Wisconsin and other areas harvest ice each year. Groups that do not use electricity will have iceboxes to keep food fresh. The ice is cut and stored for use during the year.
  • 25-30 tons of ice are needed to fill a 12 x 12 x 8 foot ice house
  • The Amish use a circular saw on a sled, supplemented by a chain saw
  • Workers wear “ice cleats” for traction 
  • Each load weighs about a ton-and-a-half and is hauled by at least two or three horses
  • The ice they gather is worth $5000 to $6000
  • The ice house may be a refrigerated truck body, but the preferred house is a two-foot-thick Styrofoam structure
  • 30+ tons of ice is enough “for even a couple of families” and may last into a second year

Ice harvesting can be a fun, community event with women bringing hot drink and doughnuts and “friendly competition” of sliding ice cakes across the frozen surface.
Ice cutting
Amish Wagon Hauling Ice
Sounds like a fun day if you don’t mind the subzero cold.