If you call them watering troughs, you don’t live in Toronto

Stock tank 'pools' have been a hit during the pandemic for housebound urbanites with tiny backyards

Stock tank ‘pools’ have been a hit during the pandemic for housebound urbanites with tiny backyards

You might think of a stock tank as a way to get water to your thirsty cattle or horses.

But these days, city dwellers are seeing watering troughs in a whole new light — stylish little pools that fit into even tiny urban backyards.

And they’ve proven to be a pandemic hit, said Jaclyn Kelly, who has sold a large number of the ‘pools’ to city folk in Toronto and surrounding areas.

“I’d seen these pools coming out of places in Texas like Austin, and California for years,” said Kelly. “I always wanted one, but never thought I could have it in my yard.”

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Like countless Canadians, she turned to home and yard improvement projects when the pandemic arrived, which led her to a store (located an hour away from her Toronto home) that sells stock tanks.

“I started doing research and found one that fit my backyard, and from there, I installed a pool pump in it,” she said, adding there’s a whole bunch of do-it-yourself videos online on how to make watering troughs into soaker tubs.

“All my neighbours got so excited and so jealous,” she said, adding that one of the neighbours bought two after she founded Salt Shack Stock Tank Pools.

“Everybody is just so excited about this opportunity. It’s cost effective. It’s stylish. It looks cool. It’s also a great way to enjoy smaller backyards, like we have in Toronto.”

Of course, what’s cost effective on the ranch and in Toronto can be two different things. Salt Shack equips the stock tanks with a pool pump, dispenser for bromide tablets and filter. The cheapest model is a galvanized oval tub that’s two feet deep, two feed wide and six feet long. It sells for $1,275 (shipping to a Toronto address included), versus $350 (sans pump et al.) at online retailer www.livestockequipment.ca. A 10-foot-diameter round tank will set you back $2,375.

“The 10-foot round is massive. It feels like a pool,” she said.

Kelly’s company will also paint the tank for $500 to $600, with the five paint options including Oatmilk and Sunset.

Kelly said she couldn’t provide sales numbers but she and husband Morgan had hired two employees to help them out. She’s had inquiries from all over Canada, and even a few from New York state. The farthest she has travelled to deliver pools is Montreal.

When Toronto entrepreneur Jaclyn Kelly installed a water trough with a pump and bromide dispenser in her backyard, neighbours got “so excited and so jealous” that she decided to start a new business, Salt Shack Stock Tank Pools.
photo: Supplied

Clients seem to be people who are into esthetics; like designers, entrepreneurs and artists. She hasn’t had any inquiries from ranchers or farmers.

Kelly said the pools are more of a soaker tub (but are great for children, too) and so appeal to those wanting to relax in their yard.

“I’m pretty busy. I have a bunch of different businesses, and during COVID, it’s been pretty stressful,” she said. “I pop in my floatie after the workday or after my son is asleep, and I just float and listen to the sounds of my neighbourhood. I find it so relaxing.

“It’s a big stress reliever during this time. I think that’s why it took off so big. We’re all home. We’re all trying to manage a new way of living.”

With summer on the wane, Kelly only had about three pools left to sell when interviewed earlier this month.

But some of her customers are thinking ahead and planning to hold on to their newfound slice of backyard heaven by turning the troughs into hot tubs for the winter.

About the author

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Alexis Kienlen

Alexis Kienlen lives in Edmonton and has been writing for Alberta Farmer since 2008. Originally from Saskatoon, Alexis is also the author of two collections of poetry, a biography, and a novel called "Mad Cow."

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