Wessels Living History Farm - York Nebraska Farming in the 1920s
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Winter - Chores and Work

How can you keep ice in the summer if you don't have a fridge?

Norma Ehlers lets you know.

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Norma Ehlers Video

On winter mornings, children had to get out of warm feather beds in the dark. The house was cold in the morning, so they dressed quickly as the fire in the heating stove slowly warmed the house. Families kept an eye on the wood supply — fuel for the cook stove and the main heating stove. Keeping the wood box full was an important winter chore. Winter morning and evening chores were done in the dark before breakfast because winter days were short. Cows had to be milked, horses, cattle, pigs, sheep, and chickens had to be fed and watered. Then children washed, ate breakfast, and got ready for school. Snow was no excuse for staying home from school.

  Photo of horses pulling ice cutter on pond.  
Before electricity and refrigerators, harvesting ice during winter was the only way to keep things cool during the summer.

Harvesting ice

   
Ice tongs were used to pick up the slippery ice blocks.
In winter, creeks, rivers, and the mill pond froze solid. It was time to harvest blocks of ice for the ice house. Albert Friesen remembers harvesting ice from a nearby pond.

Albert Friesen Photo"During the winter when that pond would freeze solid, we'd go and cut ice and they had ice saws. You did it by hand, just like wood. Saw it like that… You'd slide that, put tongs around it and pull it up along the skid way, up into that wagon… and then haul it to the ice house. That would be a sort of silo, a deep hole, and they'd pack this ice in there and then with straw. You had to have straw around it or else it would melt in the summertime. And we went to ice houses in the summertime and got ice to make ice cream." -- Albert Friesen Quicktime Logo (Quicktime required)

Written by Claudia Reinhardt.

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