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Photo Gallery - Ice Harvest

Living out in the woods, or Off the Grid, means not having continuous power for running refrigerators and freezers. Gas generators are too expensive to maintain for half the year. The pre-modern method of refrigeration was to harvest large blocks of ice in the winter time and store them in a building for use throughout the year. Since we live right at Whipple Pond, there is ice easily available each winter.

January is our coldest month of the year, with the ice usually around one and a half to three feet thick. The whole ice harvesting process can take less than a day if there is plenty of help.

Step 1: Shovel off the snow where our ice will be cut.

Step 2: Mark a 10 foot square area on the ice with 18 inches by 18 inches for each block .

Step 3: Cut each line using a chainsaw with a bar just shorter than the ice thickness. Then finish cutting each line with a hand ice saw, which will reach all the way down into the water.

Step 4: Each heavy block of ice is knocked free and lifted out with ice tongs. They are set aside for loading.

Step 5: The kids enjoy driving the snowmobiles to haul sledfuls of ice to the ice house. We will need about 10 trips between the pond and the ice house to move 49 blocks.

Step 6: Leftover ice from the previous winter may be removed from the ice house to make room. The ice house is just a four sided building with a good roof and wire mesh on the top walls for ventilation. It should be located in a shady spot. There is about 18 inches of sawdust against each wall and sawdust on the ground.

Step 7: Each block of ice is hauled up the ramp and arranged into the ice house. Sawdust is spread over each layer and in between blocks to keep them from freezing together into one giant ice chunk. The cold mass created by stacking the ice together will help keep them cold throughout the year and slow their rate of melting.

Step 8: When all the ice blocks are stored, the top is covered with lots of sawdust. The door is kept closed to keep critters from getting inside. When we need to keep food cold in the summer, we take a chunk of ice from the ice house and put it in our insulated food cooler. We will have ice all summer.