The Woodchuck Work Party.

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

What does it even mean to chuck wood?  I’ve never understood that silly tongue twister. If it means hauling and stacking firewood at my parents’ house, the Woodchuck family chucked 5 cords on the May long weekend, and had fun doing it!

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This is only a fraction of the wood that awaited our arrival (there were a few more piles here and there in the yard; don’t think we got off this lightly!).

Sadly, it turns out woodchucking is a term for woodworking.  There was some of that going on in Grandpa’s workshop, as well, but that’s not where I’m going here.  I’ll abuse poetic license and roll on with the woodchuck thing.

My parents live on a parcel of land near a few ‘lake communities’ (you know, those small, lakeside communities that are over run with cottagers, weekend visitors, and campers all looking for an escape from the city in the summer months) about 40 km north of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.  When asked, I usually just say that they live in the bush.  These crazy kids built a straw bale house and they rely an awful lot on burning wood for heating and cooking.

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As you can imagine, cooking with a wood stove offers it’s challenges, especially when you want to eat, but you don’t want to heat up the house. Nonetheless, mom’s pies and fresh baked bread are big draws for family and friends alike, and nobody refuses one of dad’s big breakfasts of pancakes and bacon!

Before you can feed people, of course, you have to feed the stove.  That’s where the Woodchuck Work Party came in.  Now, mom tells us the delivery of five cords of firewood right before our arrival was a complete coincidence.  The jury is still out on that one, but I will point out that this amazing fluke didn’t stop her from sending emails to let us know there was work to be done, if we were interested.  Smooth operator, Mom.

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#1 Smooth Operator (Mom, Lorraine, Grandma), Brother-in-law Gary, & Dad (Kenny, Grandpa)

Disclaimer: on a normal day, when we aren’t sporting our work clothes, covered in sap and sawdust, wind-blown and a bit hot and grimy, we are an exceptionally glamourous lot. 

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Stacking wood, intended to stay stacked for a couple of years while it dries, is more of an art form than you might think.  You’ve got to get the rows straight and spaced just right. Here, Kenny is guiding Gary, a newcomer to the process.

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Clearly, Gary was a star student, as he was soon starting rows unsupervised!

Advancing so quickly is quite unheard of. Many of us have been hauling wood for decades and still seem to require a great deal of guidance.

 

Of course, there’s also a lot of grunt labour involved, and some of us are happy to work where we’re able to go free-style.  Karen, my sister Debi, and I spent much of our time on wheel barrow duty.

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We even had time to pose for the wood pile paparazzi (hat hair and all).

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Sister-in-law, Margie, was kept running, keeping Gary supplied with wood.  Somehow he moved up in the ranks very quickly.

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Eventually, neighbour Roger brought his toy to the party and things really started to move!

Debi and I have decided that Roger has earned honourary brother status (poor guy).

 

 

After all of this hauling and careful stacking, what does a family do? That’s right!  You get a rip roaring big fire going!

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Roger and Kenny, getting things ready for supper.  These guys never stop working, I tell ya!

 

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Karen demonstrates her natural musical talent.  Eventually, we had a full wine glass symphony going. Family fun!

And now, the results of all of our work.  If these next two pictures don’t bring a tear to your eye, you need to join the next Woodchuck Party, my friend.  You just don’t appreciate the fine workmanship that went on.

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If you’d have told me 35 years ago that one day I would voluntarily spend the first long weekend of Canada’s summer ‘chucking wood,’ I’d have laughed you off this blog (you know, if we’d had blogs back then).  As it turns out, this family work party was so much fun, we’ve suggested an annual event (fair warning, siblings!).


You may have already noticed that my posting has become quite sporadic since my return to Canada. Bloggers do go on about how important it is to post on a regular schedule, so readers know what to expect.  Well, I’ve got gardening and quilting and other fun stuff to do, so I think my summer schedule will continue to be not so much of a schedule.  See ya when I see ya!

 

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16 thoughts on “The Woodchuck Work Party.

  1. This was fun, just watching and reading! I do look for your posts in my reader, and am disappointed when there aren’t any, but boy do I know how much time it takes away from the fun stuff of living, so I can be patient. Just please keep ’em coming when you can.

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  2. Interesting … I always thought “chucking” wood meant throwing it, like into a pile, or possibly at someone (not that I would EVER do such a thing, in front of witnesses). That makes no sense anyway as woodchucks, being thumb-less, don’t actually throw things. But making pottery on a potter’s wheel is called “throwing” a pot, so I guess it’s reasonable that “chucking” wood means making something out of wood? On the other hand woodchucks (or groundhogs, as they’re known here) don’t actually make anything out of wood. They just dig holes. Now, beavers chuck wood, so we should really be calling them woodchucks. But we don’t, because that would make sense. Unlike this comment 🙂

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  3. I laughed the whole way through this comment, and had to wonder if Happy Hour started early.

    Karen says, “10-4” and “Holy F…”

    Good rambling thoughts. I’ll have to pose more silly questions in future!

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  4. That will be fun. Truth be told, I’d rather an occasional popup than one who blogs once or twice a day and fills up my reader so I have to scroll forever to find the blogs that only post once a week or so.

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  5. I remember doing a whole lot of wood stacking at one point in my life. Family gatherings often included fun jobs like your wood stacking or haying and everyone collapsing to eat and drink afterwards. Now I just have to stack a face cord every year. I know it’s gonna sound crazy but I miss cooking on a wood stove. There were some recipes that just took on a whole extra level of flavor… I had a bread recipe that I could never get to come out “right” using an electric or gas stove. Thanks for jogging the ‘ole memory! I always look forward to your posts.

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  6. I’m so glad you enjoyed the trip down memory lane.

    One of my childhood memories of cooking over the wood stove is of stirring a big pot of fruit which was to become jam (likely blueberries). I remember having to move around a lot, so my jeans didn’t get so hot that they burned my legs!

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  7. We actually had a couple of fun days at work… possibly the wine shoild have been reserved for the second night! Haha

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  8. My parents’ house is ridiculously well insulated – the walls are made of straw bales, so they are pretty thick. The awnings on the south side are extra deep, to block the summer’s sun. There are actually days mom will light the stove in the morning to warm things up! She does have to be strategic when it comes to baking bread and pies, I will admit.

    Not my ideal lifestyle, but they love it!

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  9. Lipsa, thanks for stopping by my blog and for the invitation to check out yours. I will certainly have a little gander and see what you’ve been up to.

    I thank you for the nomination for the award, but am going to decline participating. While I appreciate the intent of the award and the encouragement it gives to new bloggers, I have chosen to focus my efforts on simply producing posts. Thanks again, happy travels and happy blogging!

    Liked by 1 person

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