I had so much fun today — and I have been looking forward to this day since August 20th – six months ago. You can read my post about my finally getting to Muster Field Farm that day – but you also have to learn about Muster Field Farm in Sutton by clicking on this second link. Of course, I have the book about the history of the farm, but when I was there in August I learned about ICE DAY — and finally it was today. AND WORTH THE WAIT. When I confirmed the event by phone I was told that this was the warmest time ever for the harvest — and it was a perfect day.

I arrived about 9:45, parked, and hurried down the path to Kezar Lake to view the harvesting.

now, I have always been fascinated by all things 19th and early 20th centuries — and ice harvesting just one of those things I just had to know all about. Following my August visit I vowed to finally write about Ice Harvesting, and published one of my DID YOU KNOW THAT… articles in the December issue of my publication, THE WALPOLE CLARION. At the end of this post I will include that article.

Wanting to take you through the process, here they are lining up the gas powered saw that does the initial cuts.

Note above that cuts have already been made in one direction, now it is time to do the initial scoring and cuts at a 90 degree angle. And, time to cut away.

and, some action while cutting to view —

here is a second gas driving cutting machine on the ice

following the initial scoring, next comes the final hand sawing. Everyone could cut (cheap labor), and I jumped in also. It was really easy to cut with the hand saws following the line cut by the gas machine.

here is an overall view of the operation  — hand cutting, then moving the blocks to be loaded for removal to the ice house.

and the loading – with a hand operated boom

and onto the assembled volunteer trucks and trailers.

I had forgotten that there were also going to be a number of Snowmobiles on the ice, and fortunately I turned around and saw the five Model T Ford Snowmobile conversions that were there.

Of course, you know that my Dad collected antique cars, particularly Model Ts.  In fact, the first car I drove was his 1919 Model T Touring Car – a tad before the time for my generation. These machines were fascinating, and I enjoyed looking at the conversions since I really do know all the ins and outs of the mechanics and chassis of these ubiquitous automobiles. Later on I got to ride in the below machine.

there is an extra axle and set of wheels – more powerful rear ends – and devices on the front axles to facilitate quick removal of the front wheels when jacked up, and then lowered down onto the skis. (click images below for larger views)

one more for you to savor

and, then it was my turn for a ride

I then headed back to the farm itself to watch the loading of the ice house. In the small center of town is the Follansbee Inn which I mentioned before, and I have to stay at.

I arrived at the small ice house on the farm

when I got there they were unloading sawdust which acts as insulation between the layers of ice blocks.

the blocks of ice (of course I asked) weigh about 280 pounds each

did you see the clear ice below, and the “snow ice” on the top surface? Yes, I asked, the snow ice melts first, but still will be there for summer use.

the bottom layer of blocks in the ice house was still from last year’s harvest. They were laying two levels of blocks, and then a layer of sawdust.


and, that was about it, except for lunch in the School House, I choose the combo – soup, beverage, and desert. About 7 soups, but I had the venison and bear meat Chile, cocoa, and some great cookies. It was all I could do to sit at the school desk.

In summary — RAY RECOMMENDS – investigate and attend the events at Muster Field Farm in Sutton. And, I am now going to  triangulate my adventures between Plymouth Notch, Muster Field Farm, and Old Sturbridge Village.

Let the 2018 adventures begin.

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5 Responses to ICE HARVESTING DAY – 21 JANUARY 2018

  1. Misty Haskell says:

    As always Ray, really enjoyed this!! Wylee thought the model T snowmobiles were really neat!!

  2. Marsha Franty says:

    Another delightful read!

  3. Carolyn says:

    Ditto Marsha’s comment, a really delightful read!

  4. Sue says:

    Never seen anything like this! So interesting to see how it is done!

  5. William Moses says:

    Enjoyed reading this and seeing the old converted snow machines. I do not remember it, but my dad raced automobiles on the ice.

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