Photo by Jim Fisher

It continues to amaze me at how resourceful the Amish are. 

I don’t think twice about going to the refrigerator and pushing my glass under the ice dispenser to fill my glass with perfect little square cubes of ice.  I don’t give it a thought on how it needs electricity to freeze it, a water line to feed it cold water, and for my hubby to pay the power bill to keep it running.

The Amish, on the other hand, look to nature to keep things cold. In the small Northwestern Amish Community, I spend a great deal of time in, my Amish friends are starting to cut ice to fill their ice houses. Without the use of electricity, many families still rely on their yearly supply of ice to keep their food from spoiling clear through summer. Traditionally ice houses were made of wood, but now we see old freezer trucks and small buildings lined in styrofoam up to two or three feet thick built to store winter ice.

Not just any ice will do.

Using circular gas-powered saws to cut blocks out of frozen ponds and lakes, the ice collectors observe the weather to find the perfect temperature and winter conditions to pull ice. It’s not a job for the fair at heart, and they are careful to cut ice only when its thickness is safe to walk on. Using ice tongs to pull the ice blocks from the frozen water, they are lined on open carts and packed with snow until delivered to the ice house.

Being careful not to transport the ice on a sunny day, most ice gathering is done way before dawn to ensure the ice is kept as cold as possible for its journey to the ice house. Most winter ice is kept in barns covered in sawdust until needing to be added, a few blocks at a time to standing ice houses.

Every time my friends tell me they are planning an ice cutting workday I rub my handy ice in the door refrigerator and give thanks I don’t need to rely on an iceman to deliver me ice to fill my glass.