Chucking Wood

Posted by on Jul 13, 2011 in Johnsons from the Front | 0 comments

We were traveling in the Colorado Mountains recently with our two grandsons, where we saw a yellow-bellied marmot sitting on its hind legs alongside the roadway. Even though the yellow-bellied marmot normally lives in burrows within rock piles, it is considered a ground squirrel. Some ground squirrels are called woodchucks or land-beavers.

As a child I had learned a tongue twister about woodchucks: “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a wood chuck could chuck wood?” The two boys tried rolling that around on their tongue for awhile, when one of them asked, “How much wood could they chuck, Grandpa?”

Hummm? I didn’t really have a good answer, so I challenged them … as a homeschool project, see if they could find an answer to how much wood a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood. They were so impressed that I could even say that so quickly, they didn’t tease me about not knowing the answer, but accepted the challenge.

A week later, my oldest grandson called me on the phone. “700 pounds, Grandpa!” he exclaimed. “What?” I answered. “That’s how much wood a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood,” he said. I could hear that he had been practicing the tongue twister.

With a little help from his grandmother, he discovered that a wildlife expert in New York State determined that a woodchuck could chuck about 35 cubic feet of dirt while digging a burrow. Using this as a reference, the expert then reasoned that if a woodchuck could chuck wood, the wood would probably weigh about 700 pounds.

Now of course, there are a lot of unknown variables to deal with when coming up with an answer … did the woodchuck actually desire to chuck wood, or did he need to chuck wood, or does he actually have the ability to chuck wood as a woodchuck?

Probably the safest and most reasonable answer is that God made the woodchuck so that it would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.

Lanny Johnson

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