Several members of the Swedzinski family, including one of their furry friends, enjoy a day of ice skating at the rink recently outside of Ghent. Chris Swedzinski secures the corners of the telephone poles with  2" x 6" lumber to keep it in place. During the construction period of the skating rink, Jessica and Chris Swedzinski place the tarp down that will hold the water in place before it freezes. The tarp will be secured to telephone poles border the rink.


A local farm now features an area of frozen fun.
Sometimes having to drag yourself down to the local skating rink or to a lake after getting the urge to ice skate minimizes that urge. But when the rink is only 150 feet from the front door of your house, it makes things much more convenient.
Chris Swedzinski, the District 16A Representative, is admittedly "thrifty" and enjoys making something useful out of nothing by utilizing items he has laying around his farm outside of Ghent. He took a few of those items such as an old large tarp, a few telephone poles and a couple of old stadium lights and made an ice rink on his farm in mid-December.
"It only took me an hour and a half to two hours to make," he said. "The ground was fairly level so that helped a lot."
Swedzinski laid out the tarp in order to get the size the rink would be made into. He then placed the telephone poles he had acquired into a rectangular shape and fastened the tarp onto them to form a "bowl shape" in order for the water to sit before it froze. The poles were fastened together with 2" x 6" boards to keep them in place.
Because a portion of the large tarp was pulled up around the telephone poles and because Swedzinski folded it to make it double thick in case there was a small hole in it, the finished rink is approximately 35' x 45'.
After returning from his office in St. Paul this past Wednesday (Feb. 3), Swedzinski flooded the ice rink. He then gave it a second flooding the following day.
"The ice is pretty smooth and the kids have already used it quite a bit," he said this past Saturday.
Chris and his wife Jessica have five children; Fred, 12; Hildy, 10; Adeline, 9; Harry, 7; and Crosby, 4.
"Through garage sales and thrift stores, we got enough skates for all of them now," Swedzinski noted. "And we have a few extra pairs in case some friends want to come over and skate. I have my own pair of skates, but I haven't been out skating yet."
The ice on the rink is fairly smooth and if some ridges or bumps get built up, a wide "push shovel" is used to smooth them over by turning the heavy metal tool upside down and using it as a makeshift scraper. And if snow builds on the rink, someone can skate and shovel at the same time.
"We have some friends that run a hockey school in Alexandria and they gave us some old hockey sticks, too," said Swedzinski."I suppose I'll have to make some goals sometime down the line. I'll probably be adding things to the rink each year."
When he is not at his office in St. Paul or farming, Swedzinski makes beautiful welded artwork, again utilizing scrap pieces he has acquired.
Swedzinski obtained the two outdated metal halide light fixtures from a friend and originally planned to use them as helmets on a welded piece he was planning to make.
"He still had the 1,500-watt bulbs for them so I figured I would use the lights for the rink," Swedzinski explained.
One of the old stadium lights has already been placed on one end of the rink. Swedzinski plans to place the other one he has on the other end some day.
When volunteers renovated Ghent's ice rink in the business section of town last year, they brought in a new warming house. The plan for the old warming house was to have it torn apart and scrapped. Swedzinski salvaged the old warming house with plans to use it for his chickens.
"It has two rooms so I'm going to use one room for my chickens and the other room for a warming house," he said. "The kids and the chickens will have to share it."

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