The Amish people have some survival skills that are really good to know. The fact that they live off the grid will create questions in many people’s minds as to how they get certain things done. How do they preserve their food that need to be kept cold or frozen? Some Amish families do ice harvesting. They harvest ice during winter to preserve their food.
Most of the Amish people do not use electricity (from the grid), so they find ways and means to supplement for some of the things that electricity would help with. One such thing is refrigeration. Some of them do it the old fashioned way.
While many Amish use propane or natural gas-powered refrigerators to keep food cold, the more traditional Amish use what they call ‘ice houses’ or ‘ice boxes’. These are insulated container-like boxes which they use to stack the ice in and use it to keep their food cool. Ice houses were traditionally made of wood. Today, some of the ice houses are made from the body of old freezer trucks. Others are made from styrofoam structures that are up to two feet thick.
Harvesting Is Not An Easy Task
The Amish will go to a frozen body of water where they use circular gas saws to cut blocks out of the frozen water. To lift the blocks of ice they have to use ice tongs. Then load it on to the carts. The Amish have to be very careful when harvesting the ice. They cannot just go to a body of water as soon as winter is on and the snow starts falling. They have to watch carefully until a time when the atmosphere is really cold and the bodies of water (lake, pond etc) are really hardened. This will ensure that the quality of the ice is good enough to last for a long time and also ensure that the body of water is rock hard and not just surface hard.
To transport the ice without letting it melt from the wind and warmth of the air, they harvest the ice very early before daybreak and stack snow between the ice blocks and on the outer areas. Horses are used to transport the ice. The ice is usually stored in a building such as a barn. It is stored covered in sawdust for insulation. Pieces are taken from the pile to be used in the ice houses.
How Long Does The Ice Last
Surprisingly, when the ice is harvested in January, it can basically serve some homes straight through the Summer months and into mid October. And we know that by then Winter is right around the corner. But if you think that is where it all ends, think again. Some Amish reportedly store so much ice that it last them throughout the entire year and into a second year.
Before the invention of the refrigerator, ice houses used to be the common thing in America. Some men would travel around the neighbourhoods with horses and carts, delivering blocks of ice to households to use in their ice houses. Photos Via Lovena West