Saturday, April 27, 2013

Ice Harvest 2013

Now that the weather is finally getting warm you might be wondering how Amish produce farmers keep their veggies cold without electric. Well, they simply harvest the cold when it is freely available in the dead of winter. You might remember that last year we barely had enough cold weather to make any ice. That wasn't a problem this year.
After several nights of below 20 degree temperatures a pond will have enough ice to work safely on it. The Amish prefer to harvest ice when it is about a foot thick and without any snow mixed in, but after last year they didn't want to miss their chance. When the pond ice was about six inches thick in January the community gathered to fill the ice house.

The day starts with a huge gas powered circular saw cutting a cross hatch pattern in the surface of the ice.

This creates blocks about 15 inches wide and 30 inches long. Using a ladder to distribute their weight across the scored blocks, the men break the blocks off with a pry bar and send them floating across the pond. With boards and floats they prod and pull the ice blocks to an elevator which leads into the ice house.

 The elevator sends the blocks onto a chute that goes into a small door high up the wall of the ice house. Inside the building other workers catch the blocks and stack them around the walls.
In less than a day they completely fill a 16 by 16 by 12 foot room. This ice room is attached to the produce room. By opening a door between the two rooms the farmers can control the temperature of the produce. This ice will last all the way through the summer and will keep the vegetables at an ideal temperature and humidity that is difficult to achieve with mechanical coolers.