Farm Collector

The Big Chill

Check out this editor's letter about all the cool Farm Collector stories that are perfect for this hot summer!

By this point in the summer, you may have had all the hot weather you want. While Farm Collector can’t change the weather, we can share a story that just might cool you off a bit.

In this issue, Don McKinley shares memories of ice harvests near his home town in southwest Iowa. This is not a new topic for Farm Collector. Over the years, we have published articles on ice harvests, but none of them were first-hand accounts. Most relied heavily on historic accounts for details, and accompanying images were often limited to illustrations depicting ice harvests, with photos of ice harvest tools from collections.

Just a boy as local ice harvests were winding down, Don’s involvement was limited to that of observer. While the men toiling at a uniquely cold job decades ago might have appreciated another pair of hands, we are well served today by a man who brings the past to life in a way very few can.

As I read the article, I thought of men working outside, all day, in frigid temperatures. Inevitably, some of them would get wet. Decades before fleece garments and insulated jeans, coats and shoes existed, the best they could hope for was a good pair of wool socks. I suppose folks back then were better acclimated to low temperatures than many of us today are, but still!

And then there was the business of storage. It is almost inconceivable to me that blocks of ice cut the previous winter survived summer temperatures with nothing more sophisticated than sawdust for insulation. What a luxury it must have seemed to be able to buy a block of ice to cool a drink on a hot day or, better yet, use in making homemade ice cream.

You’ll find plenty other “cool” stories in this issue. We’ve brought you an in-depth look at an exceptionally rare gas engine, drilled into the impact of World War II on agriculture in the U.K., and visited agricultural equipment manufacturers’ displays at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1900.
Come in out of the heat. You can mow tomorrow. Today, pour a glass of cold lemonade or iced tea and travel back in time with Farm Collector.


Leslie C. McManus

  • Published on Aug 15, 2021
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