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Showing posts from 2016

"2017 is Going to be Better Yet"

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If you care to reflect back on 2016, I'll bet you'll have a reaction somewhat like mine...that is, you might not know what to think of the year just concluded. So let's review...

On Go Wood, we started out at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, which really got the year off to a great start. We followed that up in February with a trip out into the winter woods with Ivan Sopushynskky and Andy Blazewicz. And in March, we visited our friends at Rigid-Ply rafters to watch beams and trusses being built.

But then the year began to take a weird twist. We discovered a new breed of woody guys called lumbersexuals, and examined their techniques in firewood and in chainsawing. And we discovered a dedicated group of folks that re-created an 18th-century windmill in Holland. Perhaps the most outrageous thing we discovered this year was the Amazing Marble Music Machine. But really, that was not as weird as the Earth People of the Australian outback.

But as the year closed out, it seemed like ev…

Kiln-Drying Time Again

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2017 Kiln Drying Workshop   January 9-12, 2017  SUNY-ESF, Syracuse, NY 
 If you've been meaning to go to, or send employees to, a hardwood kiln-drying short course, you have that opportunity once again. For the sixteenth consecutive year, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry is holding its annual kiln drying workshop again next month. If you're drying hardwoods, or thinking of drying hardwoods. don't invest another dime until you've spent some time with Dr. Bill Smith and his team in Syracuse.

Click here for all the information.


Tip AmountOption 1 $2.00 USDOption 2 $4.00 USDOption 3 $10.00 USD

Santa Claus Goes Wood, Naturally!

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One of the more amazing and useful sites on the internet is Zillow. You simply enter an address, and you instantly get details on the house at that address, including square footage, list of features, and Zillow's estimate of the current value of the property.
Which led me to wonder what kind of digs Santa and Mrs. Claus have up in their North Pole retreat. Hollywood movies such as The Santa Clause have the jolly olde elf living in an icy winter palace. But, you'll be pleased, and probably not surprised, to find that the Claus' homestead is predictably a warm, cozy timber-framed cottage near North Pole Enterprises.
Charm oozes from every detail of this finely-crafted wooden home. Here's the listing...

Santa's HouseThe North Pole3 beds2 baths2,500 sqft  OFF MARKET Zestimate®:$656,957 EST. REFI PAYMENT$3,228/mo A toy-lover's paradise nestled on 25 idyllic acres at the North Pole – perfect for spirited reindeer games. The home, constructed in the 1800s of gorgeous o…

Notes from the Road (12) - The Crichtons of Maryvale

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The highlight of my two weeks in Australia was a day our group spent at Maryvale, an outback sheep/cattle station. Our hosts, Robert and Jenny Crichton, were characters straight out of one of our Western movies...think John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara with Australian accents. I told Jenny she was my dream woman...a finely dressed, elegantly coiffed lady running a ranching household about fifty miles from the nearest civilization. Which is where I'll have to be when The Wife reads this.

I'll let Mr. Crichton tell you about the station...



I passed up the 4WD tours of the station, opting instead to re-charge my batteries napping on the porch, listening to the birds, squawk, rattle, chirp, and ring away the hours while I slipped in and out of consciousness. Upon awakening, I discovered a small group of men discussing the wood collection owned by the Australian government and their future disposition in times of budget-cutting, and found a common theme...those wood collections th…

Notes from the Road (11) - Meeting with Fellow Collectors of Wood

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The primary reason for this year's visit to Australia was the 2016 Annual General Meeting of the International Wood Collectors Society. You may recall that the 2015 meeting was held here at Penn State; my visit to the 2016 meeting was to reciprocate in appreciation of the several Australian members who trekked all the way to State College last year.

The 2016 Australian Meeting was well worth the trip, and exceeded my expectations in every way. The meeting location was a horse-race track and meeting hall in Charleville, Queensland, and was spacious, comfortable, and memorable.


Our Queensland hosts provided several great field trips. First, we visited the local base of the Royal Flying Doctors Service. What a great story...


Following our tour of the airbase we went on a 4WD/walkabout of Nick Swadling's property.

Notes from the Road (10) - The Fauna of Australia

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My fellow Penn State Extension Educator, David Jackson, posted an interesting story about deer-car collisions yesterday on his blog, noting that Pennsylvania has become the third most dangerous state for deer crossing the road, behind West Virginia and Montana. That got me to remembering one of the strongest, most lingering impressions I had of Australia - dead kangaroos on the road.

If you think you've seen a lot of dead animals on the road, and you've never been to Australia, think again. Even though the speed limits are strictly enforced, uncountable numbers of animals, and kangaroos in particular, find their end on the bumper of a four-wheel drive cruiser or "road train". Road trains are large tractor-trailer rigs that have two, three, and sometimes four trailers. I passed a couple of three-trailer rigs on my drive-about. When you have to pass a moving mountain, about seventy yards long, while it's hurtling ninety kilometers an hour down a two-lane highway...…

What a Tree Can Do

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How you ever thought about what a tree can do, beyond producing lumber, paper, and habitat for the animals of the forest? Well, the folks at Stora Enso do that all the time, and it's exciting.




Tip AmountOption 1 $2.00 USDOption 2 $4.00 USDOption 3 $10.00 USD

The Cutting Edge in Wood Promotion - In the Trunk

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One of our more creative readers, an Italian scientist who works for Procter & Gamble in Germany, has pushed the limits, in fact the outer limits, in his quest to use his film-making skills to feature our favorite material. I'll bet you've never quite seen wood promoted like this before.

In the Trunk from Michele Martinelli on Vimeo.

Thanks, Michele. Way to Go Wood.

Tip AmountOption 1 $2.00 USDOption 2 $4.00 USDOption 3 $10.00 USD

Notes From the Road (9) - Wellington, New South Wales

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I left State College around noon on a Thursday, and after stops in Harrisburg, PA, Toronto, and Vancouver, arrived in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia at 8 in the morning on Saturday. So, even though it was around 6 pm on Friday night by my biological clock, I had to climb bleary-eyed into a wrong-sided Toyota Corolla and begin to navigate my way out of Sydney towards the outback.
By around noon I came to my first stop of the trip. The town was called Wellington, New South Wales, and my re-introduction to the culture and environment of Australia was just beginning. I pulled over in front of the town's park because I was already seeing ghosts on the road. I needed a good stop to clear my head.
Well, if I hadn't yet realized that I was a long way from the USA, this stop brought it into sharp perspective. And naturally, the first tree that caught my eye was non-native to Australia...a Himalayan, or deodar cedar.

This monster is atypical for the species growing in its native ha…

Notes from the Road (8) - Woods and Sights of Queensland

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Well, where to start? How about walking the bush in southern Queensland with my hosts from the Australasian chapter of the IWCS...here are a couple of the trees we identified and for which I was able to collect wood specimens.




Trees weren't the only thing I took in during my walkabout.  Here's an interview of a gentleman and his pet at the Stockman's Hall of Fame in Longreach, Queensland. I loved Queensland...it reminded me of West Texas, except for the swarms of flies and dead kangaroos along the road.



And, oh yeah, I drove a long way...about 4000 kilometers, which is about 2800 miles.  Most of it was like this - long stretches of no civilization, just long vistas, music from my phone playing on the car stereo, and the occasional "road train" to scare the crap out of me as it approached on the wrong side of the road.



Well, that's just a taste of Australia to get things started. I have hundreds of photos of different types of ecosystems, a few more interesti…