Today was a beautiful day for carving ice. Bright sunny skies, light winds around mid-day, warm temperatures in the high teens, just a gentle dusting of snow falling from blue skies. So I tackled the ice sculpture.
The ice build up around the spring overflow had grown immensely over the past month or so. The base was over two feet thick and about ten feet in diameter. At one point it had been long like the narrow prow of a ship but now it was a massive column of hardened water. A beautiful piece of art carved by wind and winter. Unfortunately, last night with the high winds the drinking hole for the pigs had frozen over solid.
You might remember that Pablo and others had suggested taking a sledge hammer to the structure. Given how much the ice sculpture had grown that was rather dangerous as well as hard work. The sledge bounces off the ice quite nicely. The pointed steel tamping rod was more effective. Using it I was able to chip down two feet through the solid ice pedastal to the ground and water. That left an overly deep hole that was hard for the pigs to access due to the depth. Not good.
Since I had to use the tractor to move round bales of hay I switched around and used the back hoe attachment to carve up the ice sculpture. A 48 horse power tractor makes short work of even a huge several ton solid block of ice like this and soon the pigs had access to water again. I estimate that the ice I removed was about 19,600 lbs or 2,450 gallons. There was still a considerable portion of the sculpture left when I got done. I did not shoot the requested video footage but Holly did get a still photo of the tractor at work.
One might not think of a back hoe bucket as an ice sculpture carving tool but it does a remarkable job. Not only is it powerful enough to quickly cut through tons of material but the leading edge is quite sharp on that scale. The result was the remaining ice revealed its layered depths and crystal caverns under the slicing motions of the tractor. I then threw a bucket of water against the still towering ice to clean off the chips. This really showed the colors and striations of the ice which contrast with similar veins in the rock and soil of the bank.
The image below shows a strange formation that was down near the base. The photo does not quite capture it but what I was looking was a large ultra-clear piece of ice with radiant lines in it. It looked almost like a jellyfish in the hollow central cavity where the water falls deep within the ice sculpture. I suspect that the ice was so clear because the water was chilled and moving such that it had lost the excess gasses. Otherwise those gasses would have formed air bubbles in the ice. But I am not sure what would have caused the radiant lines in a circle like that to be embedded within the ice. Ideas?
So, if you need an ice sculpture for your next formal dinner or reception just let me know. It only takes me four months to grow one and I have one heck of a carving tool for the final job. Free ice chips on the house!
18째F/9째F, 1/2″ Snow, Flurries, Sunny, High winds in the morning.