Homestead Refrigeration, hand-dug-style!

We decided we were quite sick of hauling ice from town every couple of days for the igloo coolers in which we keep our perishables. Mostly, its melon and greens, but we do have some cream cheese and yogurt and, of course, beer, which is enjoyed very much when its ice-cold, and the one drinking it is covered in sweat and dirt!


The solution was suggested to me by someone who had a broken freezer which they wished to offload… and I was eager to take it! Lookit that beast! You can also see a bunch of other crap we hauled out from under the awning of the strawbale house. (Those things now live in a shed we built out of reclaimed wood. ) 

(You can also see the French Drain being completed in this picture.) 

So, what to do with this freeezer?
We decided to completely bury it in the ground, as a kind of root cellar. It should stay around 60 degrees just from being in contact with the earth, making our ice work harder for us, and hopefully lasting longer.

Once the weather turns cold again, it will act as a sort of insulator, keeping the food from freezing, hopefully. We’ll be testing that out this winter.

Now, you will see a lot of pictures of us digging a giant hole. This hole needs to be about three feet deep, and about five feet long.  So we gathered our pulaskis, shovels, and all the muscle between the three of us, and started digging.


Time for a little break so the cutie can sleep in the cool dirt…

Back at it!

Lots of hard work! We took turns… good thing we’re all badasses.05224686

Okay, so now the hole is dug, and we are pretty much done for the day!
Jake says, “take a nap!”

We made barriers for safety, for horses, people, and doggies. At this time, the pallet fence was not completed in the backyard, so the horses could still wander over there, and they are very curious about what us humans were up to all day! Again, excuse the mess; we hauled everything out into the open so we’d be bothered enough to build our shed as soon as possible.

We ensured that the hole was 6 inches wider than it needed to be on all sides, so we had some wiggle-room. We also checked that the base was flat and level, and the exact depth we needed so our freezer lid could open from the top.

Now, we must solve the problem of lowering that beast into the hole!

Bright and shiney the next morning, we contemplate the issue. You can see Keno in the background, eager to hang out in his favourite spot under the overhang. He stands there and naps.

We have drug the freezer to the hole, and are at this point thinking of suspending it over the hole on two boards with tie-down straps around it; two people would hold the freezer up by the straps while the third person removes the wood, and just “guide-drop” that thing into the hole. This idea, however, is making everyone uncomfortable because the freezer is ridiculous-heavy.

Hardhats for safety, lol.
I’m telling everyone we should just “go for it.” I’m getting a resounding, “I’m not comfortable doing this safely.”

So, I listen to my friends and workmates, and suddenly, I have an idea! As a huge fan of levers, I devise a way to lower the freezer by using them. I place 2×4’s into the hole, two on each side, so that they make an “X” shape. The freezer will drop down on one side, and be held by the intersecting pieces of wood.


Then I remove one side, the freezer drops a little; we lift it with a strong metal pry-bar and remove the other two 2×4’s, and the freezer drops nicely into the hole, with little-to-no strong-arming on our part. Excellent!

First side!

You can see Kristy removing a 2×4 while I hold the freezer up with a pry-bar (using our good friend leverage.) Notice the use of a giant rock as a fulcrum!

Again, the rock is the fulcrum.

There she goes!

Time to fill in the space around the freezer.

Now, we want it to be extra-sealed, and protected from the tiny bit of morning sun it receives. We had some extra high-density foam lying around, as well as some glue that claims to adhere everything under the sun (Elmer’s Super Effing Crazy-Stick Glue), so we cut and pasted a top layer for our freezer.


(Yes, I cut my hair. It was extremely hot, and I love the freedom!)

Now, we have cold beers to enjoy!




3 thoughts on “Homestead Refrigeration, hand-dug-style!

  1. Pingback: Solving the problem of melting snow with a French Drain. | SplittingElm

  2. Hey! Awesome to read up on your adventures! Awesome you guys! So happy to see your unfolding. How did this buried fridge work in the heat of summer? How is it working moving into the fall/winter? Are you worried about it getting frozen?

    We’ll have to do something similar as we’re getting a small solar set up and Will Not be running a fridge off of it. We may get some microhydro which will supply a larger amount, but that will be later.

    Keep on keeping on !

    Oh, by the way, one of my favorite authors Juliette of the herbs said she kept meat good in the heat of summer for 6 weeks by wrapping it in herbs and burying it in the ground with a large rock placed on top of it (so it doesn’t get dirty)… We may have to try that! Do you guys store meat in the fridge?

    hey, as long as it keeps those beers cold 😉


    • Hmmm! I like this wrapping meat with herbs thing. That can never be a bad thing!

      I’m not sure how its working in fall/winter, but my guess is that its still 40-50 degrees in there, kind of like a root cellar. Its over 3′ into the ground, so it should keep it pretty warm. Plus winters aren’t too crazy these days thanks to global warming.

      It sure kept the beers colder than they would have been! Overall, very pleased though if you have access to running water, say, a creek or something, you can make a KILLER fridge by having, say, 2″ pvc pipe running through the bottom of it, with the cold water running through the pipe. Plus all the other water, keepin’ it supa cold. We had no access to water like this, so down in the ground it goes!

      Its certainly a good place to store canned/jars of food and whatnot, as well as the mead and other things that need very stable, colder but-not-too-cold temperatures. I’m curious to see what you and Ini whip up on your journey! We are no longer on land like you saw here; we’re in a city, tryin’ to stack up some monies.


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