Every couple years we cover our dog yard with a fresh layer of wood chips from the local sawmill, Northland Wood. This year I decided to keep closer track of how much effort it takes to move all 30 yards of wood chips by counting each wheelbarrow load, recording how much time I spent, and by using a heart rate monitor to keep track of effort.
The image below show the tally board. Tick marks indicate wheelbarrow-loads, the numbers under each set of five were the number of minutes since the start of each bout of work, and the numbers on the right are total loads and total minutes. I didn’t keep track of time, or heart rate, for the first set of 36 loads.
It’s not on the chalkboard, but my heart rate averaged 96 beats per minute for the first effort on Saturday morning, and 104, 96, 103, and 103 bpm for the rest. That averages out to 100.9 beats per minute.
For the loads where I was keeping track of time, I averaged 3 minutes and 12 seconds per load. Using that average for the 36 loads on Friday afternoon, that means I spent around 795 minutes, or 13 hours and 15 minutes moving and spreading 248 wheelbarrow-loads of chips.
Using a formula found in [Keytel LR, et al. 2005. Prediction of energy expenditure from heart rate monitoring during submaximal exercise. J Sports Sci. 23(3):289-97], I calculate that I burned 4,903 calories above the amount I would have if I’d been sitting around all weekend. To put that in perspective, I burned 3,935 calories running the Equinox Marathon in September, 2013.
As I was loading the wheelbarrow, I was mentally keeping track of how many pitchfork-loads it took to fill the wheelbarrow, and the number hovered right around 17. That means there are about 4,216 pitchfork loads in 30 yards of wood chips.
To summarize: 30 yards of wood chips is equivalent to 248 wheelbarrow loads. Each wheelbarrow-load is 0.1209 yards, or 3.26 cubic feet. Thirty yards of wood chips is also equivalent to 4,216 pitchfork loads, each of which is 0.19 cubic feet. It took me 13.25 hours to move and spread it all, or 3.2 minutes per wheelbarrow-load, or 11 seconds per pitchfork-load.
One final note: this amount completely covered all but a few square feet of the dog yard. In some places the chips were at least six inches deep, and in others there’s just a light covering of new over old. I don’t have a good measure of the yard, but if I did, I’d be able to calculate the average depth of the chips. My guess is that it is around 2,500 square feet, which is what 30 yards would cover to an average depth of 4 inches.