Photographer David Marvitz has captured some striking images of Amish doing an important winter chore in Iowa.

While many Amish use propane or natural gas-powered refrigerators to keep food cold (see point #4 here), the more traditional Amish use ice houses.

This is prime time to collect frozen fuel for these structures, which keep food chilled well into the warmer months.




Here’s what those ice blocks look like stacked up inside an ice house:

You can see photos of another ice house here, showing the ice cooling yogurt and hot dogs.

The ice is also used for making homemade ice cream.

The community here is near Hazelton in Buchanan County. Marvitz was invited to take shots on a recent ice harvest day.

Marvitz says that thanks to their close relationship, the Amish trust him, leading to their openness to his photography.

In a video by KWWL, you can see a selection of the photos Marvitz took.

You’ll also hear him describe getting the call to document the event, on a day which saw a minus 21-degree wind chill.

Some other shots by Marvitz. Here’s a “homemade ice cutter”:

Tongs for gripping the frozen chunks:

A pitchfork comes in handy:

A hay elevator moves  the bulky blocks…

…which are then stacked on a wagon for transport.

As you might expect, this job has its hazards. In 2013 an Amish teen drowned in Wisconsin while cutting ice.

Other places where Amish harvest ice include Green Lake County, WI, Knox County, OH, and Heuvelton, NY.

Neat to get a window onto a once-common but now obscure job, still being done in the plainer corners of Amish society.