Sunday, December 25, 2011

Getting Going

Hello and Season's Greetings!  If you have discovered Backyard Ice because it was recently mentioned in one of New Brunswick's newspapers, I'd like to send out a special welcome to you!  This little blog is almost two years old, and this is my 35th post about my experiences in "the roofless world of skating outdoors."  As of this writing, this blog has been visited over 1200 times by people in 10 countries.  Also, according to the statistics, my most popular article to date features (among other things) an old picture of my brother on a pond in Titusville (click here); one of my personal favourite posts featured an even older picture of my father and his three brothers on Shaw Lake.  I've also enjoyed writing about my experiences playing in the World Pond Hockey Championships in Plaster Rock, which you can read about right here and also here.  I hope that you will take a look through my older posts.  And, if you would like to contribute an article about your own experiences building a rink or skating outdoors, I'd like for you to send a few pictures and an article to me at  I'd be happy to feature your patch of ice in a future article, just like I did when I featured a frozen pond in Johnville in this article from January 2011.
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Well, this year's edition of my backyard rink really got going today; I would have liked to start sooner, but work has been a beast lately.  Anyway, in the article prior to this one, I hinted that for this season I would be trying a different approach to establishing the base of my rink.  (In past years, I have always waited for a few inches of snow, then headed out with the garden hose and some winter rubber boots and splashed around in the slush for a few hours for a few days; the result was always a good solid base of ice - if the temperatures cooperated! - albeit a very rough one.)  This season I am trying a base made of heavy plastic sheeting.  One challenge this presented was that the plastic came in a roll that is 10 feet wide and 150 feet long; my rink is about 26 feet by 46 feet.  So, the afternoon of Christmas Eve found Susie and me cutting and taping it up...

This was definitely a job that had to be done indoors; I was struck by how big 26x46 appears when you see it inside, compared to how small it seems when you are outside!  Anyway, after the carnage of Christmas morning was over, I headed outside to put the tarp down, build the boards on top of them, fold up and staple the plastic to the back of the boards, and start the water.  Regarding board-building, about halfway through the job I had to switch from drilling screws to hold the boards together to hammering nails - my cordless drill battery didn't like the minus 20 temperatures we had up here this morning!

Flooding with a plastic base is very different than flooding with an frozen slush base.  I only had to move the hose around once in a while, which gave me some time to bring in some more firewood and make a few minor repairs to the rink's lighting system.  Flooding, fixing lights, and topping up the firewood - that's multitasking, backyard ice style!

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