Monday, January 27, 2014

Amish Ingenuity- Filling the Ice House the Easy Way!

This is an Old Order Amish Farm that I have spent a lot of time at over the last 12 years or so.  They are a great family with eight children.  The oldest two boys are now adults and so there are less hands to help out on the farm.  One characteristic of most Amish is they get a job done as efficiently as possible, within the limitations of their religion.

The 'Pond' where they cut the ice from.  This is after they took the ice out.
This particular farmer is a dairy farmer.  He also makes cheese and is government certified to make organic raw cheese.  This requires him to have a refrigerated area in the cheese house.  He is not allowed to have an electric refrigeration unit and there aren't any natural gas ones of this size (which they are allowed to use) and so he has an old fashioned ice house that is built into an old refrigerated truck.  This provides an insulated area and he built this into the building with a drain out the back.  This set up requires a lot of ice.  He used to go out with his team of horses to the pond in the back and cut the ice.  This was a huge job and somewhat dangerous as all the children were needed to help.  About 5 years ago Arlie came up with this plan.  He puts in a huge (50' x250'x2.5' deep) box up the hill and lines it with heavy gauge plastic.  The autumn rains fill it with water and then they wait until it freezes.  Once it freezes, they enjoy it as a skating rink for awhile.  (Old Order are allowed to go skating, Swartzentrubers are not).  When they have a free day they take a saw up and cut the ice up in the box and send it down the slide.
The slide down to the ice house
 They have built their  aluminum slide down the hill, right to the ice house door.  Here you see it with the last section removed  that went across the gravel driveway.  They then only have to carry it into the ice house and pack sawdust around it.  This is so much easier than taking a wagon out to a distant pond and cutting it and dragging it back.  A block of ice weighs about 100#.  This is a big labor saver.

They make sure to leave about 4" of water in the frame so that they can continue skating the rest of the winter.  They will take up the wood frame and fold the plastic, in the spring  and put it into storage until next fall.

Amish Ingenuity at its finest.

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