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Last Sunday we had some real excitement here. There was a swarm of bees, which we thought might be from our beeyard, that showed up in front of the Farm Stand store entrance. Oh my! As quick as they arrived, they started to leave towards our neighbors place and then they back-tracked and collected into a cluster on the elm tree branch in our heirloom fruit orchard.

Lizz sprang into action and went to get her swarm gear to collect the swarm, with the hope of installing them in an empty hive with the hope of them establishing a new colony. Then there was the ladder problem…none of ours were tall enough to reach the spot in the elm tree where they were clustered on an extended branch. So…plan B.

We called our friend Monica, who is a teacher at our Open Farm Days, to see if she had a longer ladder. Yay, she did and she and her mom came over pronto to collect the swarm. Monica gifted us with a colony of bees when we were first getting started here with farm bees, so Lizz and I decided it would be a proper exchange for Monica to take this swarm to establish in her bee yard. There are 3 beehives here in our bee yard now, so that is enough for time-being.

Then Lizz went to check on our beeyard to see if the swarm came from one of the hives there, but no…all the bees here were happy as always. This swarm came from elsewhere. Now it has a happy home at Monica’s farm in Florence.

This weekend there will be another beekeeping workshop on Sunday, so if you come you can probably get Lizz to share the story with you first had. She’ll be giving lots of beekeeping insights. Monica will be teaching on Sunday also about wild birds in the gardens. She is a bird expert and a garden expert, so it will be a wonderful workshop to be sure.

 

And while we’re talking about workshops, on Saturday James will be giving two workshops. One on the art of homesteading and another on using your food garden harvest to fill your pantry and eat from all year-long. He’s an amazing food gardener and no one could offer better insight to the art of growing your own food than James.

Where’s Lizz? She can barely be seen behind the mountain of flats she and Beki planted one day in the greenhouse. This stack was 200 flats tall and Lizz is standing behind it in the far corner! That is a lot of planting for two women in one day’s time.

This is the Penstemon superbus blooming in the White Rabbit Garden. It’s also blooming in the flower seed production field and there is a whole bed of it out there intermixed with the Narbonese Flax. It’s quite beautiful and one of mine and Chris’ favorite penstemons.

The rose behind that penstemon is Austrian Copper and it always gets everyone’s attention when it blooms. The iris are blooming, jupiter’s beard, chocolate flowers, fairy rose baby breath and loads of other plants.

It’s been cold for the past couple of days, and our friends in other parts of the State have even gotten snow. Here we got rain and it sure is chilly. We’ve put the woodstove back on duty to keep the house warm, but tomorrow the warmth of spring returns and the days and nights will start to get warm again. The flowers are happy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week is the week before Mother’s Day weekend and it is by far the busiest week for us of the entire year! So much is happening that we feel like we are on a wild teacup ride!

Desert Canyon Farm Open Farm Days and our Farm Stand store has been busy, which makes us so happy and appreciative of our Farm visitors and customers.  Thank you to each one of you who is enjoying our Open Farm Days and helping to create livelihood for us and our crew. You are the lifeblood of this small farm business and know we are very grateful to you for supporting us. Plus so many of you have become part of our farm family during the last 21 years and we look forward to seeing you during Open Farm Days. It’s such fun to see you enjoying yourselves as you choose plants for your gardens and explore the farm.

Our wholesale customers are also preparing for this weekend, which translates to many wonderful orders for us to deliver to them this week, for which we are very grateful. That said, we are pulling, cleaning and labeling orders at a lightning pace to get them ready for Chris to deliver. Chris will be making deliveries 6 days this week, driving from here to New Mexico, into the Mountains, going to Denver three different days. Today he will be taking nearly 200 flats to Denver Botanic Gardens for their big Spring Plant Sale event. Whew!

The flower seed production field is being prepared for the growing season. Chris and Shane are working hard to get all the perennial beds cleaned up, new beds prepared for planting, the drip irrigation system repaired and functioning, and new seed crops planted. It’s starting to look pretty sassy out there and two new crops have already been planted…Shangrila Sage and Arctic Glow Echinops. There are others waiting in the greenhouse for their turn to be field planted as Chris gets time to work on this in-between doing our wholesale order deliveries.

So, let me give you an update on what is happening in the Farm Stand store.

The flower baskets and planters have grown HUGE and BEAUTIFUL! They make the whole Farm Stand a cheerful and colorful place to be. This week is Mother’s Day, so perhaps there will be a flower basket or planter here that would make a lovely gift for one of the special Mom’s in your life.

On Saturday, we will be raffling off the first of our two fairy garden containers. These are such fun. Raffle tickets are $1.00 each and you might be the lucky winner this Saturday! If not, you will have another opportunity to win the remaining fairy garden on Saturday, June 3rd. The money from selling raffle tickets we use to buy fresh produce to donate to our local food bank, so this is a wonderful way to support the local community. Plus, it makes us smile! You do not need to be present to win, but you must be able to pick up the garden you won by  no later than 4pm on Sunday, June 4th.

We’ve made some Mini Gardens too, with themes like culinary herb garden, mixed herb garden, herb butters garden and a herb garden to attract pollinators. For those who are looking for a special gift or for those who want the work already done in selecting plants that go nicely together, these Mini Gardens in a Basket might be just the perfect choice.

Look at the flowering kale! Oh my goodness these are so gorgeous now. I’m definitely going to plant some of these in my garden here this spring. They are quite beautiful and tasty besides.

The nasturtiums are blooming like crazy and they have the most incredibly nice fragrance. They are selling fast, but there are still some little nasturtium baskets at this point. We also have them in 2″ size pots for planting up your own containers or baskets or planting straight into the garden. I like to plant them around the Belen Hen (the little red hen that lives in our White Rabbit Garden here).

We have been putting out more varieties of plants in the Farm Stand store all this past week and there are even more varieties that I will be putting out before the weekend. Sunflowers and loads of different kinds of beans will be coming out, plus there are still some additional herb varieties, more squash and pumpkins and perennials that will be ready this week. I’m hopeful that some of our old-fashioned annual flower varieties will be ready by the weekend too.

So, Chris and I and all the crew here (Lizz, Beki, Farm Stand Liz, M’lissa and Shane, plus the crew that has finished for the season) invite you to come and enjoy the farm during our Open Farm Days. There is more information about the happenings, the free workshop schedule, and lists of the plants we grow on the various pages of this blog, so if time allows, please explore this website to learn all about the farm. My books are available in the Farm Stand store too, including my new book Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine. This week there will be workshops on herbs, fairy gardening and beekeeping happening also! The Belen Hen in the garden kindly requests you join her for some time to explore the gardens, the heirloom fruit tree orchard and the flower seed production field.

We’ll hope to see you here and if you can’t join us….well, this blog will keep you posted of all the Farm happenings and our lives on this Homeplace.

Open Farm Days are happening now and we have had so many wonderful visitors so far. For the most part the weather has been pretty good for the first two weeks we’ve been open, but starting tomorrow we are expecting a short cold spell to come through Canon City. Indeed all of Colorado and New Mexico will be affected with rain and snow.

So Mother Nature will be dressed as the snow queen on Saturday and that has caused Kris Isom, our permaculture teacher, and I to have a long discussion just now on the phone about whether or not it would be a safe travel for her to drive up from Belen, New Mexico where she lives, to teach the permaculture classes here on this Saturday. With 6-15 inches of snow expected along much of her driving route, we’ve decided it is best for her not to make the trip. This is the 2nd year in a row that she has tried to come up to teach for us at Open Farm Days, and this is the 2nd year in a row that a snow storm has squelched that plan. Sadly, we are canceling the permaculture workshops this Saturday at the farm.

However, for those of you that want to brave the snow and come out on Saturday to the farm, there will be two different Farm Stand plant walks happening, at 10am and 1pm, in place of the permaculture workshops. We will stroll the floor of the Farm Stand greenhouses and talk about individual plants, how to grow them and what their uses are, when and how to harvest them, what pollinators like them, etc. It’ll be fun.

Now, I know this is very disappointing, at least Chris and I are very disappointed, that Kris won’t make it up this weekend. However, it is never wise to risk safety and health driving in a snow storm for a 9 hour drive, so it’s best she stay home safe and cozy in the bad weather.

I also know many of you have been trying to attend Kris’ permaculture workshops for the past two years, so she and I have put together a plan…well, it is a plan in the making. She will come up this summer to the farm and do a stand-alone day of permaculture classes. She and I will be discussing what date will work best for both of us to do this during the summer months. Once we have the date settled, I’ll post that information on the blog “classes and events” page of this website, with the details. If you would like to have flyer sent to you with the permaculture workshop details, once we have the date set, please mail your name, address and phone number to me. I’ll put you on the list of people who are interested in attending this event.  I’ll send you a workshop flyer that will tell you how to register. If you want to include your email address too, that would be great. Mail your information to Tammi Hartung, 1270 Field Ave. Canon City, CO 81212.

Below is Kris with a giant tree root on her farm in Belen, New Mexico.

On Earth Day the yellow-headed black birds arrived at the farm. They are a rawcas group, full of noise and fun, and we really enjoy them being here. They don’t nest on the farm, but they drop in regularly to visit and have a meal at the bird feeders.

Oh, on Sunday, the weather is going to be improving considerably and the sun is supposed to be back out again. I will be teaching two classes on Sunday. The first is at 1pm and will be about Native Medicinal Plants. The second class will be at 2:30pm on How to Deter Deer from Eating Your Garden Landscape. Come and join us for these free workshops if you can.

Other news is that all the tomatoes are in the Farm Stand store now, along with a selection of squash, cucumbers, pumpkins and peas.

There are still more varieties of squash, pumpkins, peas, cucumbers, greens, tomatillos, garden huckleberries, hollyhocks, siberian motherwort, and much more that will be big enough to bring out very soon, hopefully by the weekend of May 6th. With a bit of luck and good growing weather between now and then, we also hope to have some plants like calendula, milk thistle, burdock and others ready as well. Beans and sunflowers should be in this groups too. So, lots more plants coming to the Farm Stand store soon, but right now there are loads of things to choose from already!

Well, all for now. It’s time to sleep and be ready for a new day tomorrow.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

Everything has been in a whirl around here as we’ve worked to get ready for Open Farm Days. We opened last Saturday on April 15th and we’ll be open now everyday, except Fridays, until June 4th. Our hours are 9am to 4pm.

There is still much to be done, but we’re open, smiling and happy to welcome visitors to Open Farm Days and to shop in our Farm Stand Store. The Farm Stand store is stocked full of wonderful plants, and there are even  more plants that will be added as they become ready for sale. Today we brought out the eggplants, melons and some of the cucumbers. We are hopeful that some of the tomatoes might be ready for sale by the weekend. Plus there are perennials, so many kinds of herbs it will make your head spin, climbing annual vines (I noticed the morning glorious are starting to bloom now)…all kinds of interesting plants.

The fairy gardens look great! We use the money from our annual raffle to buy fresh produce for the local food bank.

If you visit, consider buying a raffle ticket or two for $1.00 each, and perhaps you’ll be one of two people who will win one of these fairy gardens.

I want to take a minute to introduce you to our greenhouse farm crew this spring. This is Sarah labeling lemon grass in the Farm Stand. Sadly, for us, but good for Sarah, she just left us to start a new position working for the U.S. Postal Service. We miss her already.

There is Carol, who has worked with us for 20 years! She is an expert gardener and loves spending time outdoors with her dogs.

Liz, fondly known as Farm Stand Liz, is the smiling face you will often see taking care of the Farm Stand store during Open Farm Days. She’s really great and always happy to help our farm visitors with their plant selections. Near the door, is our newest farm crew member, Lura, who is also an expert gardener and a retired nurse. She is cheerful and always happy to “talk about plants” with customers. I’m the one in the blue shirt and I am an expert at doing this and that as needed on this farm. Then there is Lizz, who is our assistant grower and bee keeper at the farm. Lizz has been working here since she was 14 and she knows everything there is to know about this farm I think. She is amazing and we love her dearly. This weekend, she will be teaching a class on Sunday about dying fibers with plants, so if you are interested in learning more about this, she is going to give a fantastic workshop Sunday afternoon. See the classes and events page of this blog for specific details.

Below is Beki, and we area so thrilled to have Beki working here. She does everything that needs doing too around here, and she never fails to make us all smile moment to moment!

Of course, this is Chris, the love of my life, and he and I own, run, and live on this farm. Chris, like most of the rest of us, does whatever needs doing here. He has built every greenhouse here! With him is our friend, Raymond, who lent a hand in the construction of the Hygge House.

Here are some of the Red Robin tomatoes you might like to buy for a constant supply of delicious tomatoes.

And there are Sugar Ann Dwarf Snap peas. We’ll have some other varieties of peas ready in another week or so. By early May, I think, all the plants we have to offer should be ready and stocked in the Farm Stand store.

This Saturday is Earth Day and remember that we have a special invitation to each of you to come and visit the farm on Earth Day to do a bit of bird and wildlife watching. The very large frogs are out of hibernation and hanging out in the turtle pond, so you might see them or the Red Eared Slider Turtles.

The bird feeders are all filled, the bird baths and the deer drinking trough are filled with refreshing water for the wild critters. We’re hoping you’ll join us for Earth Day during our Open Farm Days this Saturday.

There are gardens to enjoy and garden benches to sit a spell and relax.

Shrek will be here. Some of you know him already, but he is always ready to greet farm visitors.

Chris and I will be here too. This is the time of the year that we invite visitors to come to the farm and enjoy our “homeplace”. We’ll hope to see you here.

I’d like to introduce you to some new members of our farm crew. They have a very important role to play here in that it is their job to greet visitors and make them smile when they arrive for Open Farm Days.

Open Farm Days are only 2 short weeks away. We open the farm to the public on April 15th, Saturday, and we will be open everyday except we are closed on Fridays, thru Saturday, June 4th. Our hours are 9am to 4pm on Saturdays thru Thursdays during that time.

If you visit the “Open Farm Days” and the “Classes & Events” pages of this blog you will find all the important details, free workshop topics and schedule, and directions to the farm.

The creators of these wonderful farm scare crows are Lizz, Sarah, Farm Stand Liz, and Beki. Aren’t scare crows just the most fun!

We are working very hard to get plants placed in the Farm Stand store and nursery. With more than 1000 varieties of plants we are growing this year, it feels a bit daunting to get everything done by the time we open.

The wind event of last week really didn’t help us out much in that regard, as we have spent a great deal of this week making repairs to buildings and other parts of the farm. That took a lot of our energy and time, but the good news is that the Hygge House is now all repaired and nearly completed and filling up with plants that will be for sale this spring.

The regular Farm Stand house is already filled to the gills with plants, but some of those are for wholesale customers and we still have to relocate them out of the Farm Stand so that we have room to bring in all the varieties of peppers and other veggies, herbs, edible flowers and so many other kinds of plants that will be for sale here.

One thing is for sure….we are expert at moving plants around on this farm! Some days we wish we weren’t so “expert” at it, but that’s part of the deal in this kind of farming (and probably every kind of farming as far as I know) – things must always be moved from one location to a different one. Plants get moved here depending on how big they are, how warm they need to be kept or not, which houses they will eventually be sold from, and so on. Sometimes we just have to put them on the greenhouse floors in the aisles because we don’t have anywhere else left to put them, and so there they stay until we can make room for them on the benches. The term musical chairs takes on a new name here and it’s called musical plants!

Every day that the weather is decent at all we are spending a small amount of time getting the gardens ready for farm visitors.

Keyanna and Zia were in charge of getting the fairy garden ready for visitors and they did an amazing job!

We are getting excited for Open Farm Days this spring. We hope you will plan a visit. There are gardens to explore, the flower seed crop field to have a wander through, the heirloom fruit tree orchard to visit, and lots of bird and wildlife watching to do here. You can bring a picnic lunch if you like and enjoy it in the gardens too.

Check out the great lists of “heirloom/heritage food plants”, and “herbs and other types of plants” we are growing on those pages of this blog. Not only will you find out what plants we plan to offer in our Farm Stand store, you’ll see what kinds of growing needs they have, along with some of their uses.

I’ll leave you with this picture. I took it today of the red bud tree which just opened up to bloom. Tonight it’s snowing, so it will be interesting to see how the tree looks tomorrow. Spring is a time of beauty… fast changes, and new things happening each day, not only in the weather, but in the gardens, in our greenhouses, and just in our lives.

Happy spring to each of you!

 

Last week we had an extremely busy week, but it was super good, and so much got accomplished. We have been so fortunate to have help from a great many friends, and of course our incredible greenhouse crew, to get this new Farm Stand building finished and ready for plants and opening day on April 15th.

Above is James and Chris doing the very dangerous work of putting on the polycarbonate roof panels. Dave, another friend, spent the entire next day helping to attach the curved sides where the roll-up walls will eventually be.

Here is Beki and Chris working on that same project and on Thursday Beki and Lizz finished the entire other side of the greenhouse curve while Chris was making customer deliveries to Denver and Boulder.

Our friend and neighbor, Jim, brought sand and road base to make a nice even floor inside the greenhouse and to have a level walking area outside in the Farm Stand nursery area.

Lizz, Beki and I pounded in posts and put up the fencing that surrounds the Farm Stand store and nursery. The fence will give guidance to our farm stand visitors as to where the shopping area is for plants, but most importantly it will keep the deer out of this area so that they don’t get hurt running between benches and such.

Finally, on Thursday, I hauled in the first load of plants. The building is nowhere near completed, but we are desperate for space in the other greenhouses and all of our seeding and transplanting has basically come to a screeching halt this week because there isn’t anywhere to put more flats of plants. We desperately need this Hygge House to be able to house plants, not only because our opening day in April is drawing incredibly close and there is still so much to accomplish before we are ready for Open Farm Days visitors, but also just so that we can continue to plant as per the planting schedule so that things are ready on time for spring sales.

Lizz made the sign that will be attached to this new Farm Stand building. It is the Hygge House!

All our greenhouses have interesting names rather than calling them by numbers. We now have 9 houses; the Plant Barn, the Lizard House, the Yarrow House, the Woodstove House, the Uffta House, the Goldfish House, the Supply Barn, the Farm Stand, the Hygge House, and the Basil House. It’s more fun to have names for our greenhouses.

Sarah put in time in the gardens, since we weren’t able to work on seeding and transplanting. There is still quite a bit of gardening to do before we open for Open Farm Days, but we’re getting a good start on that task.

This is our future greenhouse crew in training. Beki’s girls were on spring vacation this week and they came on Wednesday morning to help out. Here they are planting mint plugs. They also got the fairy garden ready and fed the birds, helped with gardening and were really busy while they were here. On my next post, I’ll show you some pictures of the fairy garden they took care of.

Then there was the forecast for last night and today. It called for a 60% chance of rain and wind gusts to 15-20 mph through the night and more rain today. Instead we woke up in the night to 75-80 mph sustained winds!! We could hear things crashing around outside and breaking but there wasn’t anything we could do in the dark. It kept us awake the entire night knowing it wasn’t going to look good this morning.

At first light we were out to see how things looked and it brought us to tears and made us feel ill at what we found. The roof on the Uffta House blew off and the side was all caved in where the winds had pounded at it all night.

When the Uffta house roof panels blew off, they blew through both layers of plastic and the heat conservation ceiling blanket inside of the Goldfish House. Beki, Lizz and I spent the early morning trying to patch up the Goldfish House enough to get us by until new plastic covering arrives early next week to recover this house.

Then there was our beautiful new Hygge House with its completed roof….well, 8 panels blew off, the top cap was twisted and unusable, a number of braces were also twisted and ruined. Chris and I walked through our neighborhood retrieving sheets of polycarbonate roof panels that were found far from our farm in the neighbors hay pastures. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

This house has been so incredibly difficult to construct and now we are faced with having to do it all over again and in a hurry before opening day on April 15th. We had to order new sheets of roofing, roof cap and bracing. This house is now way way way over budget, which adds to our challenge. This is the life of farmers! There are good days and bad days. Last night the wind gods were angry and today was a very bad day as a result of that!

And the greenhouse buildings weren’t the only damage done. The woodstove we use to heat one of the greenhouses had its exhaust vent come apart from the pressure of the wind tweaking it all night, and this was while the woodstove was burning. Thank goodness nothing caught fire. We had ceiling heat conservation blankets in several houses that fell down and had to be put back up and reattached.

There is outside furniture that was damaged, the coyote fence that marks the entrance of the Farm Stand blew down, the blue room (portable toilet) was moved about 15 feet from where it normally stands and thank goodness it wasn’t blown over, but the handwashing sink next to it was destroyed and sent blowing through the greenhouses to land in pieces. Again, thank goodness it didn’t blow through the plastic of one of the other greenhouses. And my favorite dragonfly glass candle holder that M’lissa gave me years ago was broken on the back porch. Every bird feeder on the property had to be searched out and found having blown out of the trees in the night. Anyway, the list is long and we’ll be cleaning things up and repairing things for a while I think.

We do have much to be grateful for in all this carnage and that is that no one human or critter was injured! We had only a couple of flats of plants in the Hygge House that were dumped out, amazingly, and we were able to replant those.

Sadly, we didn’t get a single drop of rain in our 60% chance of rain. We badly need moisture here, so there is supposed to be another chance for rain on Sunday.  We’ll keep our fingers crossed that we are more lucky then and get some good gentle soaking rain, hopefully with no damaging winds…thank you very much.

All for now. With Green Thoughts, Tammi

 

 

Recently, we had a visit from the staff at Phelan Gardens in Colorado Springs. They wanted to check out our farm and the only time they could do that was at 7am in the morning…whew, that was pretty early to have a farm tour, but we had a blast showing them around and talking “plants” with fellow plant folks. Phelan is one of our wholesale customers, so that is one place you can shop for plants grown by Desert Canyon Farm.

This past weekend we spent at Spencer’s Lawn & Garden Center for their annual Garden Show event, also in Colorado Springs. Spencer’s has been one of our oldest wholesale customers and they are great! Lizz, Chris and myself worked the booth for 3 days, plus a day to set up, so it was a lot of time off the farm, but worth doing. I gave two workshops while we were there for the Garden Show. Everyone that visited our booth seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely.

And if you have any doubt that spring has arrived, besides this very warm weather we have been having, just take a look at the picture above. This is what 8am on a Monday morning looks like in our workspace during the spring season. We can barely walk around in this space because of the wholesale orders that are waiting for our attention. When a wholesale customer orders, we pull the plants and then we clean them, label them and put them on racks for Chris to deliver later in the same week. It’s pretty hectic around the farm this time of the year, but as the saying goes….”You’ve got to make hay while the sun is shining.” That is so true in this business. We earn 80% of our annual livelihood from March thru the middle of June, so everything counts and adds up to us being able to earn a living and provide a living for our farm crew. All those 2″ pots of tomatoes help to accomplish that and leaves us in gratitude for this work that we do.

Meet Beki! Beki works with us each spring as part of our greenhouse crew. We love her dearly and she is an amazing person to have on our crew. Here she is sowing vegetables like beets and kale. She also sowed the melon crop this week, which takes quite a while to grow large enough to sell so we start it early.

Beki also gave our Farm Stand wagons a refresh coat of paint. She got very creative in the process and painted on leaves and feathers. These wagons are going to be extra fun this spring!

Here is an update on the Hygge Farm Stand House. It’s slow going! This has been our most difficult greenhouse structure to put up, but Chris, with the help of our friend James last weekend and another friend Raymond this week, is working to get the roof in place. Time is running short, as the Farm Stand store opens on April 15th, so we are doing our best to get this house finished, along with setting up the outside nursery area. Once everything is set up, then it will take us at least 3 weeks to get the plants stocked into the Farm Stand, signs up, and everything else done so that we will be ready for visitors on the 15th of April. We’ll make it, I’m sure of that, but it is stressful between now and then. That’s stressful with a smile, as everyone is still smiling so life is good.

 

Just to leave you with a bit of nature. The herd of 35 plus deer are here at least twice a day – morning and evening, and often they spend the whole day on the farm. These does  were helping themselves to a drink of cold water from the “Deer Drinking Trough”, which is in the south side yard garden near the driveway.

Desert Canyon Farm welcomes wildlife to be on the farm. Indeed, the farm is a National Wildlife Certified Wildlife Habitat, a Xcerces Pollinator Habitat, part of the Colorado Birding Trail, and a United Plant Savers Native Botanical Plant Sanctuary.

If you visit us during our Open Farm Days from April 15th thru June 4th, 2017, you’ll be able to enjoy the farm in many ways besides coming for free workshops and to shop for plants in the Farm Stand store. Please visit the Open Farm Days and the Classes & Events pages of this blog for more information and specific details you’ll want to know.

All for now. Have a great week and I’ll be back in touch soon.