Sunday 30 April 2023

Finally, A Fish

    It seems I always have to have something to worry about.  Since the ice melted on the pond, I have been worrying about fish in my pond.  When I first had my pond built, I went to a local lake and netted out some Red Shiners that were swimming along the shore.  Red Shiners are small, minnow-size fish that only grow about 2 inches (5 cm) long.  They eat algae, small invertebrates, and I was surprised to see that they also like eating the fluff of willow trees, when it blows onto the pond.

    I usually see the fish immediately after the winter ice on the pond has melted, but this year, I didn’t see any until a couple of days ago, weeks after the ice was gone.  The little fish are a favorite food of Belted  Kingfishers (I just saw one today) and some of the diving ducks.  I was really concerned when I saw the pair of Hooded Mergansers on the pond.  I was hoping they would nest here, but that would have been doubtful if there were no fish for them to eat.

    One of the things that can happen to a pond is a winter die off.  When ice is on a pond for along period of time, sealing off all the oxygen from the air, decaying aquatic plants can use up what oxygen is in the water, causing the fish to suffocate.  Since I hadn’t seen any fish, I feared that maybe a die off had occurred, but that didn’t seem likely since there had been a constant supply of oxygen-rich water from our waterline that goes into our pond all winter long.

    Well, like I said, I always have to worry about something, but I guess I will have to worry about something else, now that I have finally spotted the fish in the pond.

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Saturday 29 April 2023

From The Fraser River Bridge

    In the end, I did decide to bike into McBride for the library’s Writing Group.  It was an unusually warm day, 23°C (73°F), perfect biking weather.  My legs held out, but my butt was still sore for my first ride of the year, yesterday.  

    On my trip, I stopped in the middle of the Fraser River Bridge and took this photo of the white-capped Cariboo Mountains reflecting in the water.  The river is still low, but if we continue getting very warm days, the snow on the mountaintops will start melting and the “beach” you see will disappear under the river.

    We are having another beautifully warm day today.

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Friday 28 April 2023

I Got The Bike Out

    When I was working for the Forest Service I usually biked to work during the spring, summer, and fall, but since retiring, my biking has been very sparse.  Last year, I don’t think I got on the bike at all.  That made me feel bad, because I know the exercise is good for me, and I like bicycling.

    Yesterday was our scheduled Book Club gathering at the library.  That meant that I didn’t have to bring anything to town except my iPad, and I didn’t have to haul any supplies back home.  The weather was sunny and mild, so there really wasn’t any excuse for me not to bike to the library.

    I got my bike out of the barn, wiped all the dust off of it, inflated the tires, and oiled all of the moving parts.  I was ready to bike the 4 miles (6 kms) to the library, at least mentally, physically, was a different story. 

    After I started off on the trip, it didn’t take long for my leg muscles to send messages of objection to my brain, but my brain ignored it, and I peddled on.  For years those biking leg muscles have had an easy time of it, and suddenly all this labor had been thrust upon them.

    I was tired when I arrived at the library, but the trip had only taken me about 15 minutes, so I was early for the Book Club and was able to rest my wobbly leg muscles before the gathering.  My trip back home was not so pleasant.    

    Biking to McBride is relatively easy, there are some slight “ups” but the trip is mostly downhill, however biking from McBride back home is mostly uphill, especially the steep, torturous, hill up to the Mennonite Church.  

    I decided to take the “shortcut” beside the highway, that went down the very steep incline at the edge of the highway, something I used to do all of the time, but being out of practice and hitting some gravel, made my front wheel veer to the left which caused me to lose my balance, thrusting me forward, off of the bike, and onto the ground.  Fortunately, both the bike and myself survived the fall, and we both made it home.  As expected, the Mennonite Hill was a long, tiring, struggle.

    Once home and walking to the house, my legs felt like jelly, and by evening, my leg muscles were still complaining. 

    Today is another warmish, beautiful sunny day, and I have the Writing Group meeting at the library.  Should I bike or drive?  I would like the exercise, but maybe I should give my leg muscles more time to recover.  I guess I will have to decide later today.

    In case you are wondering, that thing sticking out from my bike helmet is a rear view mirror.


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Thursday 27 April 2023

Peter the Hermit, Part Two

   ( Continued from yesterday)

    The photo shows the Holmes River.

    Sometime, probably around 1985, my wife and I were in McBride waiting for a Greyhound Bus to take us to Prince George and then on to Victoria.  As we were waiting, I saw Peter also waiting, probably to catch the bus so he could be dropped off somewhere close to Boulder Mountain.  We began talking.

    By this time, it began to show on Peter that living isolated and being too much on his own, was starting to take its toll.  He spoke in a very low mumble, and some of the things he would say didn’t make much sense to me.  Peter asked me where we were going, and I replied that we were going to Victoria to buy a car.

    Peter then said, “I wouldn’t buy a car until they perfected them.”  I nodded that I understood, but I sure didn’t, when would any vehicle, or any machine, ever be “perfect”?  

    I don’t know exactly when Peter moved away from Boulder Mountain, but he started living in a tentout the Holmes River, which was much closer to McBride, just 12 km (7 miles) east.  Trevor, a friend, who also lived east of McBride, made arrangements with Peter to periodically pick him up and drive him into town.

    Once when I was in the library, Peter was there too, and he came over and handed me several pages of print, and told me I should read it, because it revealed the secrets of the universe.  “Wow,” I thought, “What a treasure.”  I thanked Peter and later tried to read it, but try as I could, my brain just couldn’t digest the secret.

    Another time, Peter left a note to me with the librarian.  It said that his guitar was broken and needed a new tuning peg, and ask if I could find one for him. 

    Each make of guitar is different and use different size and spaced tuning pegs.  I left a note to Peter with the librarian asking about exactly what kind of tuning peg he required.  Peter then left the broken 3-peg mechanism from his guitar with the librarian for me, so I could see what he needed.  I took it up to Prince George and to a music store to see if they had a replacement, but they didn’t, so I took it back to the library to be returned to Peter.

    I saw Peter in town a couple of more times after that, his mumble seemed to be getting quieter, and I didn’t always understand much of what he was talking about.

    Last year I heard that Peter had died.  His body had been found in the cabin up the Holmes River.  I don’t know how long it had been between when he died, and when his body was found.

    I always tried to be friendly with Peter, the life he chose to live seemed so isolated and lonely, but  sadly, Peter is not the only person I have run into that have chosen that lifestyle.     

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Wednesday 26 April 2023

Peter the Hermit, A Robson Valley Character

     The photo shows the trail up Boulder Mountain.

    Because of it’s isolation, sparse population, its large expanse of wilderness areas, the Robson Valley has been the home of a lot of strange characters.  One of them was Peter, who was a hermit.  

    I ran into Peter in the late 1970’s, and even then he came off as being a bit strange.  It seems that before our move to McBride, he had been part of the migration of young people that moved to the here.       

    When Peter and his girlfriend moved to the Valley, they lived in a tent, and they were socially active with with their peers.  He was well educated and played classical guitar, although I never had an opportunity to hear him play.  It was rumored that he came from a wealthy family in the States and must have received some money from them, because he never held down a job.  It was after his girlfriend left him that he started his drift into isolation and became a hermit.

    After we had been in McBride for a while, I started hearing stories about Peter.  Every autumn, he would buy a lot of supplies, stock up on a lot of books, and then backpack up Boulder Mountain, where he spent the whole winter by himself, living alone and isolated in a small cabin.

    I assume he would periodically snowshoe down the mountain with his backpack, then hitch a ride 35 miles to McBride, to restock on supplies.  It always seemed strange to me that he would choose to spend the hard cold, snowy, long months of winter, alone and isolated, so far away from other people, but that was Peter.

    During the summer months we would occasionally run into Peter in the library.  We heard from the two elderly librarians, that they always felt insecure and a bit scared when Peter, with his dark long hair, beard, and backpack came into the library.

More about Peter tomorrow.



More about Peter tomorrow.

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Tuesday 25 April 2023

Just Look At Those Flashy Orange Feet

    This morning just after 7:00, I was walking Kona around the pond.  As we got to the dam I noticed a male Mallard sleeping in the water with his head tucked down on his back.  We were just 10 ft. (3 m.) away, but it didn’t even realized we were there and just slept on.  I thought, “What a great photo that would make,” but alas, I didn’t have my camera with me, another great photo missed.  

    The Mallard finally realized we were standing right there looking at him, and without panic, it just slowly paddled further away from shore.  As we walked on, I heard some splashing, at turned to see it fly off.

    About a half hour later, on our second walk, I did take my camera along, and was surprised to see the Mallard resting in the same place.  This time I got some photos.  Its eyes were open, but it was snoozing.  It woke up, aware of us, but didn’t move, it just started scratching itself with its feet.  I was surprised to see how bright orange its feet were and got the photo below.

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Monday 24 April 2023

Early Risers

    I don’t know what the name of these small flowers are, but every spring, immediately after the snow melts in our lawn, they come up through the brown grass and bloom.  About fifty years ago, the previous owners of our house must have planted some bulbs and they have slowly spread across an area of the lawn and are still coming up every spring.  

    The grass in the lawn has not yet awaken and is still brown after being covered all winter with the snow, so it will be a while before I have to do any mowing, but when I do, I will mow around these flowering plants, even though the blooms will be gone.  The leaves of plants with bulbs need time in the sun to produce enough energy to enrich the bulb buried in the ground, so they can come up again next year, so I don’t want to cut off the leaves with the lawn mower.

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Sunday 23 April 2023

Cat Cave

    Every morning when I go upstairs to paint, Lucifer our cat, bounces up the stairs behind me and jumps up into her cat cave to snooze the morning away.   The cat cave was an accident.  The old quilt was damp after being washed and so I draped it over two chairs to dry.  Lucifer was intrigued, jumped up into the dark area beneath the quilt, liked the ambiance, and laid claim to it.  That was probably two years ago, and it has been her “go to” morning spot ever since.

    I obviously, just let the quilt on the chairs remain untouched, and now that I have taken a photo of it, I am somewhat embarrassed to see all of the cat hair hanging on it.  I guess I need to do some maintenance, but I will have to wait until Lucifer is done with her nap.

    Below is a photo of Lucifer, all curled up in her cave, and somewhat peeved that I disturbed her by trying to take a picture.


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Saturday 22 April 2023

"Falling Out of Place" a Play by Sharon Stearn

    Last night I went to see “Falling Out of Place” a pioneer drama written by local playwright, Sharon Stearn of Wishbone Productions, and performed by local actors.  It was a three character play starring Andrew Hyrhirchuk, Bob Thompson,and Abi Ward.  There was drama, comedy, tension, and mystery.  It  was an enjoyable way to spend the evening and the playwright, actors, and everyone else responsible for the production should be commended.  I am always amazed at how much local talent there is in the Valley, despite our sparce population.

    I took my camcorder along so that I could take some closeup shots of the actors, but I didn’t realize that I had taken the flash memory card out of the camcorder, so it was useless.  Luckily, I had my iPhone with me and used that.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t take a closeups of the actors, but you see them in action in front of the amazing set.

    The final performance will be held tonight,, April 22nd, 7:30 at the McBride High School auditorium.  Tickets are $20.

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Friday 21 April 2023

Wow Again, Hooded Mergansers

    I feel doubly blessed with seeing two species of exotic looking ducks on my pond.  On my last blog I told about seeing wood ducks, and this morning there was a pair of Hooded Mergansers out there swimming around.  Both Wood Ducks and Hooded Mergansers are tree nesters.  I have 5 nesting boxes on trees scattered around the pond, so I have my fingers crossed that they both will find a suitable box for nesting.  

    Hooded Mergansers are considered “Uncommon” so I feel very fortunate to have them.  They always seen like “Punk” ducks with their bizarre hair styles.  I have had them nesting here several times before.  Below is a photo from several years back of a nesting female coming out of her nest box.

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Wednesday 19 April 2023

Wow, Some Wood Ducks

    Decades ago when I had my pond dug and in the spring it first filled with water, I saw some unusual looking ducks swimming around it in.  I didn’t know what the spectacular-looking fowls were, so grabbed my bird book, looked them up, and discovered they were wood ducks.  It was quite a treat to have such exotic looking ducks as my first arrivals.

    Many wood ducks started using my pond, one fall evening I counted 41 of them swimming around out there.  I learned that wood ducks were tree-cavity nesters, so I got some wood duck nesting boxes which I put on trees around the pond, and while most of the wood ducks were just migrating through, over those early years, I had a handful of them mate and use the nest boxes.  It was thrilling to see the tiny balls of fluff, which is how the ducklings looked like, jump from the high nesting boxes, to their encouraging mother below.

    For years the wood ducks returned to my pond, then suddenly, none came and for about 10 years I didn’t see any wood ducks at all, and heard of none being in the Valley.  

    Three years ago, when a pair of ducks flew off from my pond, they sure sounded like wood ducks, but they were too far away to identify.  Last year from a distance, I was pretty sure I saw two wood ducks on the pond, before they flew away.

    Two days ago, I saw three wood ducks swimming around in my pond.  I was amazed that they didn’t fly off, because they are usually very skittish.  Those first wood ducks that came to my pond, used to fly away whenever I peaked around the house, which is 75 yard (68 meters) away.

    Wood ducks are magnificent looking ducks and it is so nice to have them return.  The nesting boxes are still up, so I hope some will nest here again.

Two males and a female.

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Tuesday 18 April 2023

Planting My Peas

    I once read in a gardening book that peas can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked, and even though two weeks ago there was still snow on my garden, now its soil is soft, dry, and workable, so two days ago, I tilled an area, put up my fence sections for climbing, and planted my peas.

    Planting them early means they can be harvested early, before all of the other vegetables come in.  Peas are tough plants which like it cool, and they can stand a bit of freezing temperatures once they come out of the ground.   I always plant my peas earlier than anyone else around here, and so far, I have always been rewarded with a good yield.

    I always save some of my peas for seeds.  I pick out peas that are in pods that have eight or more peas in them, hoping to improve my pea crop each year.

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Monday 17 April 2023

Someone's Dream Collapses

    We own the 14 acre (5.6 ha.) piece of property across the road from our house.  It is pretty much untouched land, which is why we bought it.  We didn’t want someone to buy it and log it, we wanted to keep it in its natural state.  All that being said, before we arrived in the Robson Valley, some owner of the land had built a small hut on the property.  It wasn’t much, but probably worked okay as a retreat during the summer. 

    For decades, the hut was slowly deteriorating, and the other day I walked through the property and noticed that over the winter, the hut had finally collapsed.  I did noticed there were a few pieces of useable lumber stored under the hut.  I will salvage those and anything else that can be used, then let nature take its course on the hut.

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Sunday 16 April 2023

The Day the Pond Melts

    The photo above shows how my pond looked this morning.  I am thinking that by tonight, all of the remaining ice will have melted.  When the ice melts on the pond is one of those seasonal landmarks I always look forward too.  

    Seeing open water is always a treat.  The color of the pond changes with the sky and wind.  It’s sometimes gray, sometimes blue, sometimes sparkling; it is always changing.  

    At present, all we have is a pair of mallards on the pond.  I look forward to seeing more ducks as the migration progresses.


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Saturday 15 April 2023

Spring Clouds

    Of course the most recognized joy of Spring is the explosion of plants and flowers, but one of the other things I always look forward to in Spring are the beautiful, billowing clouds that form against over the mountains.  Here are some examples I have seen lately.


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Thursday 13 April 2023

Donkey Work

    Decades ago when we first bought our 5 acre “Hobby Farm”, one of the first things I did was to buy a wheelbarrow.  Now I have two different types of wheelbarrows, and two different types of carts, all of which seem to be constantly in use.  Like a donkey, or some other beast of burden,  I am either pushing a load of something on one of those wheeled contraptions, or pulling a load on one of them.

    Over the years I have loaded them with firewood, manure, leaves, compost, wood chips, dirt, gravel, boulders, and sticks.  It seems that there is always something out there that I need to push some where or pull somewhere.  The photo above shows me tugging a cart full of big chunks of wood up to the shop, where I can use the electric splitter to split it, and transform it into firewood, which I will then have to load back into the cart and pull down to stack with the rest of the firewood.

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Wednesday 12 April 2023

Hella: Success!

Continued from my last two blogs:

Two weeks passed, and Hella began being ravenous in her eating, eagerly sucking the bottle of Flossie’s milk, and scarfing down the calf manna we gave her— all a good signs that she is improving.  Hella finally got to the point where she was able to stand up using the wall as an aid.  Once up and in standing position, she would prop herself against the living room wall for balance, and then leaning against the wall, she would walk along the wall.

Having reached the point where she was able to walk, we borrowed a baby playpen and set it up in the living room for Hella.  We needed to confine her activities through the night.  

We began putting Hella outside during the day, and finally she and Flossie reunited, with Flossie allowing Hella to suckle.  That was a real landmark which relieved us of both milking Flossie and feeding Hella.  We continued to keep Hella in the house at night for a while, until finally, Hella was strong and well enough to be out with the other goats full time. 

The whole Hella episode had been a long and stressful ordeal.  One entry in my diary mentioned that I rarely got a full night of sleep because of the nighttime activities of both our dog Sundance, and Hella.

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Tuesday 11 April 2023

Hella's Ordeal Continues

    This blog began yesterday.

On Sunday we carried Hella outside, and held her underneath Flossie,  hoping to get Hella to nurse from her mother, but she didn’t seem to understand what to do.   Her energy did seem to be a little better.  Hella seemed to be a fighter, but we began to worry on the fifth day of her illness, because she slept most of the day.

However, later in the afternoon, I carried Hella in my arms, outside and let her nibble on some willow leaves, which she took a real interest in.  We were encouraged that night because Hella became more active.

I began feeding Hella more willow leaves, but probably too many, because she threw up some of them.  Hella, who was very thin, did seem to be coming more coordinated.   By the ninth day, still in the living room, Hella began to show how spoiled she was getting.  She would bleat out, “Ma” every time we would get out of her sight.

By her eleventh day, I began to take Hella outside and lay her down in the grass and roll her over onto her bad side and she would almost stand, trying to flip back over to the side she usually laid on.   Two days later, still very thin and her neck still feeling like a thin cable under the skin, Hella began to sit up by herself instead of just always laying down.  She kept trying unsuccessfully to stand, but still couldn’t quite make it.  We began feeding her calf manna, which she really liked.

The conclusion of Hella’s story tomorrow.

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Monday 10 April 2023

An Ordeal for a Baby Goat and Us

    This happened in 1984:

One morning while I was at Forestry, my wife went out to the barn to check on our Angora goats, some of which were giving birth and discovered that Hella, one of our newly born kids, was lying on her side, panting with her head twisted back along her backbone.  It looked like the kid had been butted by another goat and had broken her neck.

I immediately clocked off work and rode my bike home to see what we could do to help the poor baby goat.  We took Hella to Dr. Bill Sanders, a friend and local vet, who after examining the pathetic looking creature, told us that Hella had encephalitis; her brain was swollen.

    Bill gave it shots of antibiotics and thiamine.  Hella was really out of it and to us her situation seemed hopeless, but we brought Hella home and laid her in our living room on some towels.  I then after a phone call, I drove to a neighbor’s house, whose son was lactose intolerant, to get some goat milk that they had, which we then tried to feed to Hella by slowly dribbling it into her mouth using a needless syringe.

The next day I started milking Flossie, Hella’s mother.  It is the first time I had ever milked an animal, but I was successfully in getting some milk, which we kept feeding to Hella.  Hella still seemed paralyzed, maintaining the same terrible-looking position, as she lay on her little bed of towels on the living room floor.  We continued giving her the antibiotics and thiamine we had gotten from the vet.

The following day using a small nursing bottle, we started to bottle-feed Hella, who took Flossie’s milk very slowly.  I took her back to the Bill’s who gave her a different antibiotic and “cow-strength” thiamine.  The new medicines seemed to have a positive effect, because Hella seemed more aware and would sometimes kick her legs as she lay on the floor.

    More of Hella’s story tomorrow.

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Sunday 9 April 2023

Sweaters on Goats

    I did recently show a black and white photo of some of my Angora goats wearing sweaters in one of my April Fool Photos blog, but I just came across a better photo of the goats wearing their sweaters.  

    Because Angora goat mohair grows so rapidly, they are shorn twice a year.  This is fine in warmer climes, but up here in Interior British Columbia it can be a problem, because of the cold weather we can get in both the Spring and the Fall. 

    We didn’t want to have cold, newly-shorn goats, so after they were shorn we carefully watched the weather and if it was going to get cold or wet, on went the sweaters we had gotten at the second hand store in McBride.  

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Saturday 8 April 2023

Receipts for Income Tax

    While I desperately look forward to the arrival of spring all winter long, there is always one event in spring that I hate;  preparing my income tax.  I don’t mind paying income tax, I know that is what gives me the services I get from government, but it always drives me crazy trying to get all of the receipts I need together, so I can file for the income tax.  

    This year my tax preparation was going smoothly, until I noticed that I didn’t have one of my T5Riff tax statement from the bank.  A T5Riff shows how much money I received from the savings I put away in a special retirement account and received last year.  

    In frustration I called the bank which is in Prince George to see about getting the statement that I needed.  This was an ordeal in itself, since the phone number for the bank which is on all of the monthly statements they send, is no longer used.  After a couple of days of telephone tag with the bank’s automated answering service, I finally was able to talk to a real person.  He told me he would check it out and call me back.  He never did.

    Days passed with no T5Riffs arriving and I was desperate to get my income tax forms to the accountant that does our taxes, so yesterday, I just took a photo of one statement I had previously gotten from the bank, that told the total amount I had received in 2022.  I was going to just going to turn that in with the other T5Riff statements I had, and keep my fingers crossed.

    Before we were able to turn in all of our forms to the accountant, we drove into town.  On the way, my wife noticed some old mail that had been was stuck between the seats in the car.  It was mail from March, and of course, the T5Riff tax statements that we needed were among the other letters, and had been hidden there for a month.

    While I felt like a fool for calling the bank, mostly, I was just very happy to finally having those T5Riff statements I needed.

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Thursday 6 April 2023

Dual-Use Snow Scoop

    The blue object with the handles that you see in the corner of the photo is a snow scoop.  It was designed to scoop up snow, then by tilting it, you can slide the scoop over and dump the snow by lifting the handles.  I use it to clear the driveway if there isn’t enough snow to justify using my snowblower.

    This winter I had a brainstorm and realized that the scoop also works really well for pulling things across the snow.  I used it yesterday to move these really heavy chunks of cottonwood across the snow to my driveway, where I could then pick them up with a cart.  

    Cottonwood has a lot of water in it and some of these chunks were so heavy, I wouldn’t have been able to lift them very high (I rolled them onto the snow scoop).  In fact, before I could load the chunks onto the cart, I had to split them in half, so I could l lift them.  They had so much water in them (some of them were frozen) that when I used a splitting maul to halve them, water foamed up when the maul hit the wood.

    I used an electric splitter to split the chunks into firewood size and was able to get a whole section of my firewood row filled (photo below).   I have three sections of firewood left over from last winter and I now just have four more sections to fill with wood before winter.


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