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Autumn Greetings,

Recently while working in the greenhouse, I was listening to an NPR report about the lack of food security that happens in so many parts of the world, including the United States. The report was specific to the people of Central and South America, where many of those countries are facing terrible losses of their primary food crops and cattle, up to 70% loss of some crops like beans and corn, due to serious drought conditions.

Drought periods are becoming more frequent and lasting for longer periods of time as climate change manifests as part of our daily lives, and this is true for many places around the world including my own area in southern Colorado which only this year broke out of a severe drought that had lasted a really long time. Extreme weather patterns, not just drought situations, but flooding and excessive periods of rain like they have been having in Arizona , extreme cold as the northwest and mid-western United States experienced last winter…these are realities we must learn how to cope with as our planet’s climate shifts, be it in Australia, Peru, Iceland, Africa…all over the globe.

And it is not just climate change that affects our food security. People have their ability to eat nutritious threatened by many different reasons, including economic influences, logistical problems like food deserts in urban areas, lack of knowledge about how to prepare nutritious meals, too much time spent working and not having time to eat appropriately. There are a whole gammet of reasons why people’s ability to eat well are threatened, some of which are relatively easy to alter and control like learning to cook a squash or a pot of rice properly, while other factors like being able to afford good food or not having sources to purchase healthy foods can be more difficult at times to correct.

The report left me pondering the situation that will leave people unable to have even basic staple foods they rely on available to them. It left me thinking about ways folks can take more control over their ability to feed themselves well.

Certainly, one thing nearly everyone can do in some capacity is to grow at least a portion of the food we need for our pantries. We may be able to plant a decent sized garden in our yards, or we can container garden on our porches or indoors in our homes.

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This is a pot of ginger and a small lime tree that I grow on my back porch during warm months of the year and bring them indoors for cold months making them house plants in winter.

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Growing pots of salad greens, baby carrots or beets, green onions, herbs and even red robin tomatoes are all plants that can be grown as indoor gardens with bright indirect or direct window light. Nothing beats being able to snip fresh-cut thyme or chives to cook from a pot growing on the counter and adding them  into an omelet or topping a baked potato.

These are small steps that add to your food security of being able to feed yourself well and nutritious. Seeds are inexpensive and a packet goes quite a long ways in producing a large amount of food. Consider trying it if you are already not doing so. It is autumn, and outdoor gardens in many climates are finishing up for the growing season, but that does not mean you have to stop growing fruits, vegetables and herbs entirely for the cold seasons of the year.

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Another avenue that is open to many of us, and this is true world over, is to utilize farm markets or food markets as a way to buy food more locally and seasonally. Here the farm markets will be ending at the end of September or early in October because it is the end of the outdoor growing season where I live. That said, it is a perfectly good idea to go to the farmers market and buy some fruits or vegetables that keep well and quite a long while at room temperature like apples, squash and pumpkins, beets and turnips, onions and garlic. All of these types of produce can be stored in baskets and used up well into the fall and winter. As the outside temperatures cool down cooking a pot of crock pot spiced apples means a delicious and good for you part of your meals.

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You can also consider making some of your own herbal remedies to help care for your health and well-being. Here I’m preparing Echinacea tincture from freshly harvested echinacea flowers I cut in the garden. Lemon balm can be dried for tea. Spearmint is delicious and nutritious prepared as an herbal honey. Lavender flowers and leaves are good stress relief remedies when added to the bath or for an herbal foot soak…on and on it can go. This will add to your health security.

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There are other simple things that you can do to take good care of yourself and the earth. One very easy thing to do is air dry your wash. A clothes line is not an old-fashioned or outdated part of your landscape. If you dry your laundry on a clothes line outdoors or indoors on a wooden drying rack (you can buy these easily at hardware stores or by mail order at places like Lehman’s) you will save yourself some money that it would normally cost to run your household dryer or pay for dryers at the laundromat, a minimum of $150.00 per year! That’s a decent bit of cash that could be going to pay a water bill or buying groceries at the market, or even paying for entertainment like going to the swimming pool or the movie occasionally throughout the year. This is really good for the environment too, as air drying clothes does not use fossil fuel of any type. This adds to your environmental and economic security.

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Finally, consider ways you can take care of your mental security like reading good books or listening to wonderful music. Going for walks or bike rides is good for mind, physical body and the spirit.

You may have heard about neighborhood “free libraries”, which are little book boxes on poles built at the edge of people’s property or yard space…a bit like a mail box kind of thing. Books are placed inside these little boxes that can be borrowed or taken for free by neighbors passing by, and they can leave a book in  return that someone else can take to read, and so the cycle goes. We could even start music free libraries too couldn’t we. At our house we have for years had a “give-away reading basket” that sits in the living room near the hallway door. Whenever I finish reading a book or a magazine, etc. I toss it into the basket. Friends, family and our farm crew know that anything that is in that basket is available for immediate adoption. In other words they can take a book(s) home for their own use and then pass it on to someone else when they are finished with it or keep it permanently if they like. Every household, large or small, could have a give-away basket of sorts, whether that be for books, clothes or whatever. Sharing our “stuff” with others when we are finished with it is always a great idea.

So, I hope I’ve left you with a few things to ponder. You can go to other pages of this blog and find recipes for crock-pot apples, how to grow ginger or make your own herbal tinctures, plus so much more. Have some fun exploring the pages of this blog and see what you find that is useful or interesting to you.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

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This past weekend found us hiking in the mountains outside of  Westcliffe, CO. The high-country autumn colors are just beginning, but are so glorious! I think this weekend and the next one will be really a show of color.

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The marmots were keeping a close eye on us as we walked the trail past their homes. This fellow looks like a miniature bear sitting there in the rocks, but no, it was really a very vocal marmot. I really like these critters.

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I harvested some clusters of ponderosa pine needles on that hike, which I will use to make another pine needle basket sometime this winter. Here is a picture of those needles and you can see a small pine needle basket I made some years ago. It is a pleasant task to weave a pine needle basket, but it takes a lot of time, so I’ll wait for a good snow storm to work on that project.

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Some other signs of autumn here at the farm are the birds that arrive this time of the year and stay through the winter months like this downy woodpecker. There were two scuttling up and down the pear tree trunk outside my office window a couple of days ago.

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This past Tuesday evening I gave a presentation to the Horticultural Arts Society. There was a good sized crowd that turned out and we talked about herbs that have special needs when it comes to growing them, plus how to use them. Here I’m talking about Lemon Grass, which is a delicious tea and culinary herb. Use it in soups and stir-fry, or generously in a noodle bowl.

Today found me again putting up loads of tomatoes, peppers and squash from the garden. I was able to freeze a few raspberries too for later use this winter. Before I even had my breakfast I was cooking big kettles of spaghetti sauce, making fresh salsa, and a pot of cowboy chili. I used up a half bushel of tomatoes doing that, but if the weather holds there will be twice that many more tomatoes by the end of the weekend. I’m in gratitude to have all this good garden harvest to fill the pantry. Growing your own food garden translates to groceries all year, which is never a bad thing.

On the greenhouse front, we have finished potting up most of the new stock plants, and I’m nearly done with my major cleaning projects. Next week we will hope to get the supply barn organized and cleaned up so that it will be ready when supplies start arriving for next spring’s inventory. I have loads of clay pots to wash before they can be re-used, so I work on that a little bit just about every day. Scrubbing clay pots is heavy work and it is hard on arthritic hands, but it still must be done, so a little at a time works.

Lizz got all the planting done in the gardens…thank you very much Lizz! There is still some gardening work to be done, but at this time of the year we start to not fret so much about it. We’ll work on it as time allows and enjoy all the autumn colors that will soon overtake the farm gardens, flower field, and trees. What a glorious time the autumn is!!

Elisa has been working on caulking the outside of the greenhouse end walls, which is a pretty big task too. She is doing a great job and it’s going to look really nice when it is all done.

desert bird of paradise This plant is called Desert Bird of Paradise, and the hummingbirds love it. It is in our south bird garden and really only started to flower a couple of weeks ago. That is quite late compared to normal. The hummingbirds should be starting to think about making their trip south now for the winter, but with flowers like this still blooming around the farm, those little birds are hesitating to start their migration journey. I hope they hit the road soon, because its starting to get cold here at night…last night was 37 degrees…too cold for little hummingbirds to be very comfortable I should think.

Chris continues to work daily on bringing in the seed harvest. The flower seed crops are behind schedule this year due to the cooler than usual summer temps. There are a lot of crops that are still in the flower stage and haven’t yet begun to form seed. That makes us just a little bit nervous as we hope there won’t be a hard frost here for some time to give those seed crops time to finish out.

harvesting roseamry

Recently, I wrote a little piece for the Storey Publishing September Newsletter about drying rosemary and also making rosemary herbal honey. Here is the link if you would like to read that newsletter. Beyond my bit, the whole newsletter is quite fun. Check it out…

http://bit.ly/1oJl8U9

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

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I mentioned in earlier blogs that I’m starting a new book project, and today was the first full-fledged work day on that writing project. The book is going to be about plants in North America and how they enrich people’s lives. Today, I am off to an auspicious start to my writing. I interviewed a potter friend who makes his pottery using local raw materials, including clay he harvests himself, and glazes he prepares using plants that grow on his land. This is one of his three kilns. Not only was this interview really fun, but I learned so much! And so the book is in its beginning days.

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Much of the past week, and probably a great deal of this week too, has been all about garden harvesting and putting food up for later use. You can see from the counter above that my garden is really producing a lot of good fruits and veggies now.  Herbs too.

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The hawthorn tree was loaded this year with wonderful berries. I harvested about 2/3 of the berries and left the remaining ones for the wildlife that lives with us here on our farm.

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Potatoes were another crop that I harvested this past week. The white potatoes were cooked and frozen to use later for hash-browns and mashed potatoes. The red potatoes I’m using in my cooking on an as-needed basis.

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Shrek had an eventful week too, as he tore his hind toe and nail nearly off. That required the help of our vet to remove the dangling nail, repair the toe, and bandage the area. He is supposed to be in quiet mode for 5-7 days, keep the foot clean and no swimming in the pond…yikes! We’ll see how that all goes, but so far we’ve made it through one day pretty well. He has the help of his teddy bear friend keeping him company as he works at being a “quiet and calm” dog. Hmmm.

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Tomorrow will be a major greenhouse plant work day. I have a lot of cleaning, potting up of stock plants, and other misc tasks to accomplish. I should have worked on that today, but it was nearly 100 degrees outdoors, which translates to above 100 degrees in the greenhouse. That’s too hot for me right now, so I’m opting to do that work on the marrow. I also have some garden tasks that need doing, so if time allows tomorrow I’ll squeeze one or two of those into the day too.

Hope you will have a productive and enjoyable week as well.

 

 

Tammi on Knife's Edge trail mesa verde 2014

This past week I took three days and drove to Mesa Verde National Park where my daughter works as a Park Ranger. It was time for a visit and it was so nice to see her. While I was there we did some hiking. Above we were hiking on a trail called Knife’s Edge. Below is the Spruce Tree Canyon trail. Hiking and Mesa Verde is always great, but the best part of the trip was long visits with M’lissa and her friends.

M'lissa at mesa verde aug 2014

Upon my return home to the farm I discovered that my pomegranate tree has a baby pomegranate fruit forming. Wow! I’ve been watching to see if anything was pollinating the flowers, and I hadn’t noticed any creatures doing that, but obviously someone did, because now there is a small fruit growing.

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Many posts back I told you about some trials we have been doing with different brands of growing media (aka: soil) in the greenhouses. We’ve tried a number of different brands and different formulations within each brand.

So far we’ve trialed 4 different formulations of Sungro organic mixes, 2 formulations of Premier Pro Mix organic mixes, 2 types of Berger organic mixes, and one called Batch 64. Some have preformed terribly, others have done very nicely at growing our plants out.

Below is a picture of tomatoes growing in Berger and Batch 64, both planted on the same day, from the same plugs, and growing side by side. You can see the difference.

So far, we’ve narrowed it down to two mixes that seem to do equally well…PRO MIX HP Organic and Sungro Organic #2 Basic. Since they seem to perform about the same, we will make our decision at this point comparing pricing and logistics of delivery, etc.

Thankfully, by this time next week I should have the soil and all our other growing hardgood (pots, trays, vermiculite, perlite, etc.) supplies ordered for the 2015 growing season. Then it will be time to start on the seed orders…oh my!

batch 64 soil tomato vs berger soil

Below is one of my favorite flowers in the White Rabbit Garden. It’s the Grandpa Ott’s morning glory, an heirloom variety. It is so beautiful and cheerful, you just can’t help but smile when you see it.

white rabbit garden 2014 grandpa Ott's morning glory

019     I’ve been picking loads of tomatoes of all kinds in the garden this week. German heirloom, which is the pinky red large tomato above, red robins, black cherry, sungold, martino’s roma, italian paste, stripped cavern…just to name a few!

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These are some of the red robin cherry tomatoes, which are still one of our all-time favorites around here.

The Italian Plums are very nearly ready to harvest too. I think they need about 2-4 more days and then I’ll pick them.

Raspberries, strawberries, squash, cabbage, anaheim peppers, and cucumbers have been coming on in big amounts. I’m grateful for the harvest and having the pantry full.

 

This will be a short post tonight. I lightening storm to beat the band is starting to happen all around me, and I think it’s best to turn this computer off until a later time.

Until next time.  Keep on smiling!

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Recently, Chris, Shrek and I went for a hike in the Sangre Mountains to check out some wildflowers and try to get a bit of relief from the hot days and the farm work. It was really a wonderful day and we enjoyed it very much. Unfortunately, that was two weeks ago and we haven’t been able to break away from the farm since. The flower seed crops are coming into harvest now in a very big way and every day is filled with seed-picking for Chris and other farm work for me. I’ve been helping with the seed-picking too, but most of that has been falling to Chris to accomplish.

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The food garden is one of the things that has been filling part of my time. I’ve been harvesting tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, strawberries, and two kinds of squash nearly every day. The bounty has been keeping Chris and I in fresh produce, and also extras to share with our farm crew. Elisa, one of the field crew, has been making squash muffins from some of that squash, and sharing some of those very delicious muffins back with us!

Below is a cucumber tomato salad I prepared quickly for lunch. I added some sliced mozzarella cheese, sprinkled on some fresh thyme and basil, and drizzled the whole salad with just a bit of balsamic vinegar. All served with fresh bread and iced tea…perfect!

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On Wednesday last week Lizz and I paid a visit to Perennial Favorites Nursery in Rye, CO (which is  30  minutes south of Pueblo off I-25) to see our friends Merrilee and Diana, the nursery owners. Below is a picture of one of their hummingbird perennial gardens. I wish I had gotten a better photo, but I was hurrying, so this one will have to do.  I hope you will visit their website and read Diana’s blog, because it will inspire you and your gardens.  Here is the link… Diana’s blog perennial favorites .  Perennial Favorites Nursery will be open for a couple of more weeks before they close for the season. They have some really amazing plants for sale there, so I encourage you to visit their website to see what the hours and days are that they are open, as well as directions to the nursery. It’s an easy drive there and worth the trip, so I hope you will visit them. You’ll even get to meet their dog, Zandar, who is quite a whimsical sweet guy…a great nursery dog!

We had such a lot of fun talking shop with the two of them, and then doing some shopping for real to buy some plants to bring back to our farm. One of those plants was a fig that should be hardy to zone 5, so it should thrive here in my garden. I’m going to plant it this afternoon so that it will have several weeks to settle in before the cold weather seasons arrive.

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Every late fall after the seed harvest is finished Chris and I get to take our camping vacation to southern Utah. We love hiking the canyons there, enjoying wonderful plants, colorful rock formations and Indian ruins. Since it is late fall, though, one never quite knows what the weather will be like. It could be raining or snowing and the night-time temps are usually at freezing or below. So, I did say we were camping, right! Yes, in the past we have put a shell (not this camper) on the back of our truck and at night we roll out our sleeping bags on the bed of the truck and that is our home away from home. If the weather is dry and the temps not too cold, this has been ok, but if it is too cold for a campfire in the evenings to stay warm by before bed, or if it is wet out, the truck set-up isn’t ideal. Plus, we are getting older and our bones are getting more fussy about hard metal truck beds! Add to that the fact that we now have our dog Shrek to take with us, and the thought of a wet muddy dog sleeping on my sleeping bag just isn’t that appealing. Does it sound like I’m making excuses…teehee. Well, whatever works.

I had some money left from my book sales last year that I had saved aside, so we decided to see if we could find an older pop-up camper to fit our truck and we got lucky. There was a young couple who owned this older pop-up camper, but who also have 4 young boys and they have outgrown the space, so they had a good price on the beast. It was in very good shape and only a few things needing fixed, which Chris has been working on in the evenings after farm work. This is our new home-away-from-home for our upcoming camping vacation. It will keep us dry, and there is a heater if we need it if the temps get too cold at night to be comfortable.

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There is room for Shrek to sleep in it too and not be sleeping on top of us in our sleeping bags. And I’m quite sure the bed will be a lot softer than the metal bed of our truck! I’m really smiling now!camper 021

About three years back I purchased some kiwi vines. They have been growing in large pots since that time. During the warm seasons I take them out to the garden to live, but I haven’t been brave enough to plant them in the ground, even though they should be hardy enough to grow here. Each late fall I have put them in an unheated cold frame greenhouse and covered them with frost blanket, where they have been very content to grow with no complaints. However, they should be hardy here, so yesterday I planted them in the White Rabbit Garden. One is planted on the north side and one on the south side of our Little Garden House (where we store gardening hand tools and such). They will have a bit of protection in these spots from the wind, and I think they will like the spots they are planted in. I may cover them with frost blanket too for the really cold months of the winter, but I haven’t decided about that yet. We’ll see what happens. Keep your fingers crossed that they will be happy.

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This next week will be another week of lots of seed picking, greenhouse chores, and office work. It will be a full week of tasks at hand to get done. There will be garden produce to “put up” for later use too. I’m starting to read a couple of new books at bedtime and contemplating setting up my stitching frame to work on my needlework. It’s about that time when I should be able to sit a spell now and then and stitch. I hope so…it is August already after all! Soon the autumn will be here…my favorite time of the year, but in the meantime there is still a lot of the summer left to enjoy.

 

 

 

 

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Greetings,

I know it has been a while since I’ve written and I apologize for being away so long. Things have been very busy around the farm of late, and no matter how hard I try to get through my list of things to do every day, it just hasn’t been happening. Hence the reason I haven’t written on this blog recently.  There is a lot of news to share though.

First of all, for those of you who live near to our farm in Canon City, this Saturday, August 2nd, I will be having my annual Free Market Event. This is like a yard sale, except everything that is out will be given away for free. Please note that this is not a Farm plant sale, but a give away of all sorts of “stuff” (clothing, household items, pictures…those sorts of things) kind of event. I will plan to open about 9am, no earlier, and I will close when I get tired of being open:) If you’re in the neighborhood and you’d like to drop by and shop for free through my items available for adoption, please do come by. At the end of the event, whatever is leftover will be donated to charity.

 

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Other great news is our being a part of the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s Colorado Birding Trail. You can go to that website and find us listed as a birding/wildlife viewing location.  Desert Canyon Farm – Colorado Birding Trail

thrasher chicks

What this actually means is that our farm is available by appointment for folks to come to and do some birding or wildlife watching.  Here is how it works…

A Farm Tour Walk-About   by appointment only   Cost is $10.00 for adults, occupied children are $2.00 each.

Self Guilded Walk-About Tour      by appointment only     Cost is a donation

Driveway Quick Stop to view the Desert Garden where the Curved Billed Thrashers and Quail live does not require an appointment, and is free, but you are not allowed to leave the driveway area around the garden.

Pets are not allowed to visit the farm…Thank you.  Please visit the Colorado Birding Trail website for all the specifics on how and when you can visit Desert Canyon Farm to do some birding or wildlife watching.

Below are some birds and other creatures you very well might see when you make an appointment for a tour.

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We see all sorts of birds here. This rosy finch is here all year. We also see Pinon jays in winter, Juncos, chickadees…

white faced ibis 2010 dcf oibd

Ibis occasionally stop over at our ponds. The ponds are also home to red-winged blackbirds and long-tailed crackles.

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There are rosy finches, gold finches, sparrows…

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Sharp shinned hawk. We have three different types of Grosbeaks that frequent here. There are meadowlarks, bluebirds, robins, shrikes, eastern blue jays and azule buntings seasonally, along with many other different types of birds.

mallard pair 2010

Mallord ducks and geese. We have counted over 70 different types of birds either living or visiting the farm, and I’m pretty sure there are more that we haven’t yet put onto our list.

You might also see some of these or other wildlife while you are here.

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Taranchula spiders

twin fawns 2011

Mule Deer

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Cottontail or Jack Rabbits

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Lots of different pollinators, including bats, hummingbirds, butterflies, native pollinating insects.

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Foxes, skunks, raccoons, different kinds of squirrels, etc. We have had bears visit, bob cats and coyotes too, although rarely.

Let’s see….other news is that just yesterday I was approved by my publisher to start a new book project as soon as the final details and paperwork is finished. I’m quite pleased and very excited to be working on a new book. I’ll share more details with you in the weeks to come once all the logistical details are ironed out.

Chris is in the thick of seed season now and picking perennial seeds every day. The flower seed crop field is absolutely gorgeous right now!

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I guess that is all for now.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

 

 

 

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