Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Mining ice in Minnesota January 2, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 11:15 AM
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The icicles and ice dams on our house, before my husband began chiseling away at the ice.


Removing ice dams via a hammer and chisel may not be the quickest and easiest way to accomplish ice removal, but it’s certainly the least expensive method (unless you fall and injury yourself, of course).

On Thursday, when temperatures here in southern Minnesota hovered around a balmy 40 degrees, the hardy Minnesotans in my neighborhood took to their ladders. They knew this was their single chance to pick away at the monstrous ice dams threatening their homes.

A view I took through the kitchen window of my husband on the ladder, chiseling at ice damns.

First, Bob across the street hammered for hours at the ice on his porch roofline. I didn’t worry about him until I saw him climb onto his roof and then stand there like he didn’t quite know how to get down. I kept the cell phone close by, just in case. But eventually he swung his leg around, planted his foot firmly on a ladder rung and descended cautiously to the icy ground.

A few hours later, in the dark of early evening, my husband planted his ladder in the backyard snow mountain, climbed a few rungs until he could reach the ice-dammed eave troughs and began hammering and chiseling away.

Occasionally I would peer out the window or door, checking on his progress, but mostly checking to see that he hadn’t slipped from the ladder.

For some two hours he hammered and tossed huge chunks of ice from the roof. I’ve never been to Antarctica, but I can only imagine our yard now resembles a mini version of a broken ice shelf with chunks of ice strewn haphazardly atop the snow. But better the ice littering our yard than weighing heavy upon the house.

While my husband-miner mined, the next-door neighbor also attempted ice removal. I don’t know that she’s cut out to be a miner as the clink, clink, clink didn’t continue for long. But then again, her mine (house) doesn’t appear to have the same rich, natural deposit of ore (ice) as our mine (house).

Ice dam chunks litter the backyard snow mountain.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling