Jonah and I have been working hard, and the results of our work are about to be fantastic.
First off, we've decided to move. The backyard no longer suits our agility needs (well mostly we're just killing the grass but space is also a concern), so we're going into the woods. We have about 3/4 of an acre fenced in back behind our house which has long been space for the dogs to run. Earlier this summer I cleared out a path around the edge, but this weekend I went crazy clearing out a larger space. Mostly this consisted of raking about 4-6" of wet leaves, dirt and sticks into piles or to the edges of our space. There were also lots of bigger branches to move out of the way, and I cut down about 15 small trees and saplings. There are still a bunch of larger trees and a few 'islands' where large trees have fallen that I couldn't move out of the way. There are now about 15 stumps where I cut down the trees and saplings. There is a rock. The ground is uneven in some places. But...now we have an agility area where we can leave some of our equipment outside and not have to worry about ruining dad's lawn. It's also wider than the yard, although not nearly as long. I paced it out and it's about 75ft x 75ft square-ish. So, it's very, very far from an ideal agility field where you'd have a competition, but it's a very exciting improvement for us.
The reason for doing all this was because...we are making a dog walk! Yesterday I went to Home Depot and got 2 2x12x8' boards and one 2x12x12' board. I got a bag of play sand, some exterior primer, some brown (so as to be less obtrusive to the neighbors) and yellow paint and some hinges. Here's what I did:
1. Prime the boards
2. Tape a line for the contact zone (I did about 2' from the end)
3. Paint the top of one board in the majority color--in my case, this was brown. More common would be blue, red, purple or green.
4. While the paint is still wet, sprinkle sand on it, fairly heavily.
5. Use a stick to spread out the sand so it is a pretty solid layer over the paint.
6. Repeat for the other boards while the paint and sand dry.
7. When the paint is dry, brush off the loose sand that did not stick to the paint. The color of the paint will be dulled a lot by the sand. In fact, if I were doing it again I might do the sand layer as a second primer layer rather than the first layer of color, but I think either way would work fine.
8. Paint another layer of color over the sand. This will take a fair amount of paint to get in all the cracks, but it seals in the sand and it makes the board the nice color you want it.
9. Paint the sides, ends and bottom of the boards.
10. When the paint is dry (I was rushing and did this too soon, so learn from me and wait!), remove the tape and re-tape to paint the contact areas.
11. Repeat the sand painting process for the contact zones.
Ok, that's as far as I've gotten so far. I decided not to rush any more and just wait overnight to assemble. I will just screw in the hinges and prop the boards up on some shelving units we have. It will be more like 36" than 48", but I figure it's a darn good start.
I'm actually really pleased with how well the sand worked. The surface has a really nice grip which Jonah will need, since I didn't put any slats on it to add traction. As I mentioned, I rushed the painting a little which resulted in some messy spots, but overall it looks fantastic and I can't wait to set it up and let Jonah try it out tomorrow. I'll keep you posted.
In the meantime, I moved our weave poles, 2 hula hoop 'tires,' a jump and a pause table (It's a large, old drawer that I put some indoor/outdoor carpeting on the top of. It won't last forever, but it's good for now) out to the new area and we played around a little bit. I'm watching some ebay auctions for a tunnel and a chute and I'm plotting about a makeshift teeter. I don't think an A-frame will happen this fall, but I'm just thrilled with how much we already have going for us and we'll get lots of good practice out of our current toys!