Monday, June 29, 2015

How Much Wood Could A Woodchuck Chuck

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck,
If a woodchuck could chuck wood?
As much wood as a woodchuck would,
If a woodchuck could chuck wood.

There are numerous variations on the answer to this American English-language tongue-twister before the final line “If a woodchuck could chuck wood.”

 … A woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could …
 … He would chuck, he would, as much as he could,
 And chuck as much as a woodchuck would …
 … As much wood as a woodchuck could chuck,…

This is one of the most famous examples of a "tongue twister" or a song that is difficult to say clearly with proper enunciation. The woodchuck ‒ from the Algonquian word, "wejack" or "Wuchak" ‒ is a mammal (or a kind of marmot) native to North America commonly called a groundhog. Woodchucks were not named for their ability to "chuck wood" but rather as a case of converting the Native American name for the creature, into its nearest English pronunciation.

The complete beginning of the tongue twister, "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" relies primarily on alliteration to achieve its effects, with five "w" sounds interspersed among five "ch" sounds.
The origin of the phrase is from a 1902 song, "The Woodchuck Song", written by Robert Howard Davis for Fay Templeton in the musical, The Runaways. The lyrics became better known in a 1904 version of the song written by Theodore Morse, with a chorus of "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?", which was recorded by Ragtime Roberts, in 1904.

The answer to the question posed in this tongue twister has been one that many have tried to answer using scientific study, but it isn't really necessary. A 1957 Associated Press piece refers to the question as "a riddle which beats the Sphinx, since it's still unanswered". A more concrete answer was published by the Associated Press in 1988, which reported that a New York fish and wildlife technician named Richard Thomas had calculated the volume of dirt in a typical 25–30-foot (7.6–9.1 m) long woodchuck burrow, and had determined that if the woodchuck had moved an equivalent volume of wood, it could move "about 700 pounds (320 kg) on a good day, with the wind at his back". Another study, which considered "chuck" to be the opposite of upchucking, determined that a woodchuck could ingest 361.9237001 cubic centimetres (22.08593926 cu in) of wood per day.

A traditional, if nonsensical, "response" to the question is: "A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood" so even the song doesn’t give a true answer. Another proposed response comes from the parody-filled video game Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, where the protagonist asks a carpenter the question and gets the response: "A woodchuck would chuck no amount of wood since a woodchuck can’t chuck wood."...

So moving right along...

We have a wood burner fire that is not only the way we heat our home in the cold winter months but it is connected to a wet back so it heats our water in the wintertime as well. Sometimes it runs so efficiently that the water will actually boil! This is great because I will run a warm wash for our cloths and the bonus is - it is not costing us for hot water to do so.

Normally Harry gets our wood in during the hot days of late summer and early autumn but for some reason this year it never really happened even though I was accused of nagging on the odd occasion.

When it was first cold some friends surprised us with a gift of a ute load of lovely dry wood (part of their own supply) but that soon ran out. So now we have been racing to find some dry wood and get in a supply of our own before it’s too late. We were running the gas heater but it really only heated whoever was sitting the closest to it (and it wasn’t me) and when we needed to buy another tank of LPG we knew it was time to take action.

We are blessed by having a few friends who have farms and so there is often a fallen tree that needs removing as it is taking up grazing space, so we are able to share a little of the wood for our fire. This then only costs the price of fuel for the chain saw and diesel to get there and back a few times so it is truly a wonderful blessing.

(If anyone knows how I can rotate this let me know)

So Harry has been chain sawing and chopping and I have been ‘chucking’ the wood on to the trailer.
So how much did I chuck … as much as I could when it was light enough for me to chuck and the trailer was fill.

It’s a lovely time of togetherness as we work together getting in our supply and just working toward a common good. Harry jokes he just wants a ‘gate opener’ but he has also said it’s a lot quicker if someone is loading up the trailer while he is cutting down and then up the wood (that’s a funny way with words!).

While I am waiting for a new pile of wood to load I will often look for smaller bits and poke them into the gaps of wood which can be used as kindling or just generally getting the fire fuelled up before we place the bigger logs in.

The other day I decided I had some things I needed to get done at home so I didn’t go with Harry and he mentioned that that may be a good thing and it would save time and space from unloading the small bits I had put in. He may scoff now but will often use these small pieces and we will joke at what a great idea it was to collect them, pretending that it was his idea!

And then when we come home the smell of baking and a meal cooking away slowly in the oven is just the thing for hungry tums.

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