We hope conditions will be much different next January.
For those who have never been to an ice harvest, it's often a memorable day. In January 2009, Howell Farm intern Maren Morsch wrote the following of her first ice harvest:
The very first public program I had the opportunity to participate in was January's ice harvest. An impressive igloo, a loaded ice house, a tired bobsled team, and a lot of ice candles were among the day's results. On the whole, the event was a new experience for me from beginning to end.
I was especially impressed by the enthusiasm of a number of the visitors. There were those who showed up at 9:45 a.m. to be the first ones out on the ice, who harvested for hours as if it was their own family farm they were working for, and who left reluctantly only after it was announced several times that the farm was closing. I can only anticipate that this same energy will be found in other programs I experience as my internship progresses.
Also noteworthy is the “polar bear plunge” I took that day. The combination of a sunny day and large number of people working out on the ice caused a great deal of the ice to soften and “go bad” or “get rotten.”
I thought that the odds were against me falling in, as only a handful of staff members have ever done so, and the running favorite for such an act was an employee whose reputation as a bit of a daredevil led me to feel a false sense of security in the distribution of the odds in this regard. Yet, while helping a child learn how to use an ice saw, I suddenly found myself floating away from the saw, and sinking rather rapidly. The child and his father were on firm ice, but I had been close to the edge, and I soon found myself wallowing waist deep in the chilly water.
After climbing out of the pond, I made my way to the farmhouse, where a combination of quick thinking, ingenuity, and clothing donations from the ladies tending to the hungry stomachs of visitors and staff alike had me dried off, re-dressed, and back out into the action in record time. (Thanks again to everyone who helped!)
Even though the untimely swim put my cell phone out of commission for a few days, and I just today returned the last of the borrowed clothing to its rightful owners, I can’t say it dampened my ice harvesting spirit in any way other than physically. I suffered no injuries — although for the remainder of the day people charged me with duties like tending the fire and going for bobsled rides.
In the end, I had a great story to tell my friends when I got back to school that afternoon. While I don’t necessarily recommend swimming in January, I certainly don’t feel it in any way tainted my first programming experience here.