Monday, February 27, 2023

The Farm's First Harvest


Historically, ice was harvested in this area from frozen ponds and lakes using a specific set of tools. 

Thanks to a generous loan from the Freedom New Hampshire Historical Society the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room has been able to present a new program on ice harvesting which we offer free to local schools and community groups.

It starts with laying tools out on tables or the floor in no particular order...

... and inviting the students to then try to figure out the order in which they would have been used, which of course they can not do.

Then we watch the opening scene of the Disney film Frozen and they try again...

...and they are able to figure it out. 

We confirm and expand their understanding of the tools and the ice harvesting process by examining period photos and archival materials from the Henney History Room collection. 

Now they are able to put a name to the tools... such as this ice hook. 

Then the students closely examine the tools and with a little prompting and a few hints they discover that the tools “talk” and through study of details such as shape and wear marks the tools “tell” you how they are meant to be used - in this case, which part was used to push, and which to pull the ice blocks down the channel. 

Then it is back to the "Frozen" film clip to confirm the way that tool was used. 
It is amazing how well the students do with tools they have never touched before

Another student "listens" to the ice tongs and shows how they were used to pull the blocks up out of the water. 

We talk about how the ice harvesting tools fit into the categories of "simple machines" as defined by the ancient Greeks and use terms such as the screw, lever, and fulcrum. 

The film clip also allows for a discussion of the choreographed "ballet" of ice harvesting such as the role of singing while you work, how teams are set up and work together, and the hierarchy within and between the teams. 

We watch the young boy struggle with lifting his block of ice and talk about how he intuitively solved his problem by using the specific density of ice vs water. 

For info on harvesting and storing ice in ice houses see our previous blog on "pond water ice cream" here

This program is part of a larger set of programs we offer under the category of "Colony to Country" starting with the King's charter of the Town of Conway in 1765 to the Declaration of Independence in 1776. 

For more info on these programs contact us at the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room.