MIDDLEFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio – Mike Yoder’s sitting on a hot commodity, which is somewhat unusual given these three factors: He’s peddling ice, it’s January, and his business operates in Northeast Ohio.

But the region’s warmer-than-normal temperatures put some sizzle in Glacier Block’s sales, primarily to Geauga County’s Amish settlement.

Why? Well, to keep the milk from spoiling.

The electricity-shunning Amish bought ice blocks in record numbers last month to use for refrigeration. Yoder estimated that Glacier delivered 360,000 pounds of ice to his Amish customers during December; the previous year, they received about 90,000 pounds.

The reason’s simple: Most winters, the Amish store perishable food – such as dairy and meat products – on the back porch in the chilly outdoors. That’s just not possible when the thermometer’s reading 50 degrees.

“We’ve never bought ice before,” said James Miller, 38, of Middlefield Township. “But it’s never been this warm.”

Companies that refill ice storage bins scattered around the community are making weekly deliveries to keep up with demand. Most winters, the visits come about once a month, said Middlefield Ice owner Mike Durosko, who stocks a dozen coolers. Another company, Geauga Ice, maintained its local route past Thanksgiving for the first time.

Business should only get busier. Many Amish harvest ice off of frozen ponds to create a stockpile to use over the coming months. The long-term forecast – even with some cooler temperatures looming next week – makes that task doubtful for this year.

Still, few Amish are complaining about the cost of buying ice blocks to keep the kitchen refrigerator cold. Most homes are spending an extra $3 to $6 a week.

That’s a small price to pay for a mild winter.

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