About fifty years ago, the Steward authorised spending money to rebuild the dam that had for a very long time been used to create a reservoir for the mill, for grain grinding and so that there was a place to cut ice for use in keeping meat and other such perishables from spoiling. When we stopped milling our own grain and electricity made possible the use of commercial coolers and freezers, the dam went to ruin over several decades. All that changed when the Steward decided that it would far less costly in the long run if we were self-sufficient in electricity, so in the Seventies she started us on the way to being so, and now we use wind, solar and water to generate every kilowatt of the power we use.
We even added power to the yurts, the old crofter cottages, and the common bathing facilities that they share with those like like Gus and his wife, who live in one of those old crofter cottages. It means that they use electric power to heat their domicile and only use wood when they want a fire going. And all of our energy generation, even wood, has effectively a near zero carbon footprint in its effect on the environment.
That’s the boring part of this story. The fun part is that we’ve had our skating pond back for a couple of generations now. Not to mention ice for our curling and hockey games as well. It’s a big pond, some six acres all told. It freezes solid by the third week of December and stays safe most often ’til late March. It’s a half mile from Kinrowan Hall, so we built a club house there to get warm, change clothes, and even grab something to eat, as there’s a kitchen there.
Fifteen years ago, The Steward authorized a Zamboni to be purchased and a building to house it as well. That means we can clean up the ice when too many skates make it too rough for use anymore.
Now the pond gets heavy usage, such as midnight skating parties and championship curling tournaments that draw some hundred folk to the Estate in the winter. What the Steward would not allow is any permanent lighting there as he, and Tamsin, our Hedgewitch and Mistress of All Owls, said that’d interfere with the night creatures here. So we built a stone lined fireplace instead for bonfires, and only use it at night when the moon is strong.
But skating remains the most common use of this ice, as nearly everyone here skates and cross-country skis as well (the latter is another tale to tell later), as nothing beats skating across ice that’s three quarters of a mile from end to end and is several hundred feet wide. I’ve skated in many places in Europe and this is the best ice I’ve experienced.