I HAVE TO TIE MY SISTER DOWN.

She is only allowed to be hands-free when she goes to work or is in the kitchen.  Our seed orders are coming in, and I gave her a new “toy” this year, a seed planning, planting guide.  My BIG mistake!

Dirt is in our souls.  We grew up on a farm and will (hopefully) die on a farm.  With that said, we both share particular duties on our little patch of heaven.  She is in charge of the “starting,” and I am in charge of the transplanting and keep it running.

We go through the same mess every year.  She gets the garden bug way too early, and then I am last minute slamming things in wherever I can find the room, so they don’t die.  She gets them started far too early, and we have flowers appearing before the last frost is done.  If I don’t get them in somewhere (fast), we could lose them.  This year I have decided to tie her down to get-our-ducks-in-a-row!

She has specific orders NOT to start any seeds until our new cheat-sheet guidelines say so.  (Got it free from a fellow blogger/grower here in Colorado.)  Even though they were developed by a “foothillser,” and we are plains people, it is all Colorado.  Mountains would be very different, but the foothills are close enough. 

According to the charts, she should not be starting anything until the end of February.  Then, the only ones to start at that time are the long-term veggies.  The rest is not to be started until mid-March, and it is killing her!

I told her that she could play with her seed starter, soil mix to her heart’s content.  But she must leave the seeds in their packets!  At least the new charts are keeping her busy.  She has to list all the packets and the standard info on them.  Oh, and she also has to have them sorted by category, as well as alphabetical.  Hee hee, I can be mean when I want to.

In the meantime, I am mapping out all of our plots and planting spaces.  I am also revamping our backyard double plots into a mini-greenhouse.  I want to move our starts out there when they start getting into the hardening-off stages.  The side walls will be rollups, so I won’t have to move anything, just open the sides and let in the sun, air, and whatever.  I will try to remember to get pics as I go to share here.

I think my plan will work as long as she does not start setting seeds in the middle of the night (yes, we do wake up at all hours of the night – it’s the age curse).  I check her fingernails when I get up to make sure she isn’t trying to sneak a seed or two in.  Sisters?!?

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OUT ALREADY?

I realize that everything last year was off whack, but I thought I could count on somethings remaining normal.  Nope.

Our seed catalogs usually start showing up around October or November.  I understand that anything that had to do with the mail was going to be late.  What I was not expecting was for our catalogs to already be out of seeds?

How can this be?  We just started getting the catalogs in late December.  I assumed that most other garden lovers were also going to have delays.  Apparently, there are a bunch of sneaky-snakes out there that didn’t wait for their catalogs; they just went right to their favorite websites and ordered ahead – grr!

What is with garden planners?  Holy crap!  There are hundreds of them out there on the internet and material world. 

  • Some are free to sign up for their email. 
  • Some cost minimal.
  • Some go as far as making them a whole book.

I currently have five different ones that I have saved, bought, downloaded, and/or created.  One of my first goals this new 2021 year is to get something that actually works – AND HELPS – me.  The last 6-10 years have had one terrible omen after another.  I refuse to listen to them anymore.  This year WILL be a winner in our gardens, and I will figure out how.  Come hell or high-water or tornado!

On a side note, I just realized that the movie “I Robot” is supposed to be what the year 2035 looks like.  This is now less than 15 years away.  Between that and the film “Runaway”, I have decided that there will NEVER be robots tending my gardens.  At least not while I am still alive.

Happy Gardening!

(Many thanks to some very talented – and funny – cartoonists!)

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UNBELIEVABLE! REALLY?

The very first day of the brand new year, and we get a fox!  Damn! 

We just got a new batch of chickens from a dear friend for my sister’s birthday. It’s the first time we have had a flock in the last five years.  Things just seemed to be one issue after another, so there was never time to spend on a new batch-o-birds. 

They came over on 12/27/20 with twelve birds, eleven hens, and a rooster. It’s a beautiful colorful mix of babes.  Just to hear them clucking around, and the rooster crowing again filled us with hope for the new year. 

Usually, when you have any newbie animals, it takes time for them to acclimate before providing anything; but these girls were up for the change and gave us our first two fresh eggs the very first day.  Woohoo – an excellent sign for a new year, right?  Wrong.

This morning at 4 a.m., my sister hears the rooster going nuts in the barn.  She grabs a flashlight, throws on her slippers (note, we still have some snow on the ground), and runs out there to find our rooster dismembered.  Proof positive of a fox in the henhouse.  JERK!  We have not even had them a full week.

AND IT’S THE VERY FIRST DAY OF A NEW YEAR – REALLY?!?

I just finished a nice post on my other blog (https://lifelessonslived.com/ ) about how I will simplify things this year to get more done, and then this happens.  We spend a month shearing and prepping our chicken coup in hopes of finally getting newbies in 2021. 

  • New wire.
  • New roofing.
  • New bedding.
  • Clean up and fixed all nesting boxes.
  • Shearing up any/all holes, gaps, or possible access spots.

All this, and yet the fox won.   I was not even sure we still had them near us since we have not had anything for them to pick-off in years?

We are farmer/gardeners at heart; it’s how we grew up.  We believe in live and let live, and everything happens for a reason – HOWEVER – this one’s got me baffled.  Why us?  Why the first day of a new year?  Why in less than a week?

I never believed in trapping before, and it would be hard with all our barn cats, but I am seriously debating it now!  The monsters have tons of rabbits, pigeons, prairie dogs, and rats around here to get food – STAY AWAY FROM OUR CHICKENS.

Happy New Year to us; we get to spend the day figuring out how the beastie got in and shear it up before it (they?) comes back again. 

Oh, Happy New Year to us!

(Time to call in the Winchester boys for help!)

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THAT FEELING OF FALL.

This post is just short and sweet.  This picture truly says fall to me:

Image by Larisa Koshkina from Pixabay

Not necessarily Halloween, but you get the feeling it’s close.  Pixabay.com has been a great source of inspiration for me over the last several years.  They send things to my email that they think I might appreciate and this one hit the nail on the head.  They even do it free, mostly.  Some creators expect payment before you can download, but most you can, as they call it, buying the creator a cup of coffee.  In other words, you can donate to their efforts, but you don’t have to, and the download is free.  This one was a freebie, but I did donate a dollar toward a cup of coffee.

I use a lot of these Pixabay pics in my writings.  I can usually find exactly what my writing mood is in there.  No, I am not affiliated or receive any type of payment for this share.  I just love sharing stuff that is either free or fun, in this case both.  I hope you take a moment to go visit them and view all the great stuff.  If, for nothing else, to get a good feeling in these trying times.  Enjoy!

 

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A JACK?

I wonder if it will ever stop?  I know that the state (or county) put a sign on east-bound I-76 just before our exit that states “services next exit “, but it is wrong-sort of.

Yes, there are the services listed, however; when you get to the bottom of the off-ramp (which just happens to be right by our little farm), there is nothing to tell anyone just where to go for those services.  It is another three miles to those services.  Oh, and at the bottom of the off ramp, there is nothing telling them which direction to turn!

This has been a problem for us since the day we moved onto the farm (over 20 years ago now).  I swear, everybody and their brother has to ask us something – or for something:

  • “Can you tell me where such-and-such is?”
  • “I ran out of gas, do you by chance have any to help me get to a gas station?”
  • “Can you tell me where the nearest gas station is?”

Those three questions are the most asked, but we also have some real beauties that have happened:

  • An elderly couple in a big, beautiful Caddy pulled into our driveway.  The man got out and rang our doorbell.  “I am sorry to bother you,” he said, “ but my wife really needs to use a bathroom.  Could she possibly use yours?”  Yes, we said yes.
  • While enjoying our Friday night cocktails one comfortable summer evening, we watched a Motorcyclist come down the off-ramp.  A pretty standard practice there as tons of Cyclists have done it in the past and continue to do so today.  This one was a bit different.  He got off the bike (which was not small by a long shot), pulled out his cane, and proceeded to step back to stretch his legs.  That’s when it happened. Just as he stepped clear of the motorcycle, it fell over.  He tried to catch it but it was obviously more than he could possibly handle. We got up from our comfortable porch chairs, walked across the highway over to him at the off ramp, and proceeded to lift his motorcycle back up for him.  He thanked us endlessly and even offered us money (we declined) and said he was just on his way back to Denver from Sturgis (he went to the bike rally up there) and just needed a bit of a break.  We kindly suggested he may want to look into getting a tric (tricycle motorcycle).  We all had a nice laugh and he went on his way.

It should also be noted that I am a mom that became a very light sleeper when I had my child.  I have never been able to sleep long or sound for a full eight-hours after I had her possibly because she was born with a disability, possibly just because it is a mom thing?  This last Friday proved, once again, that it is a very good thing.

It was around 11:30 p.m. Friday night, and the dogs started barking weirdly.  They have several types of bark, but there is one that signals there is something really strange outside.  This bark was one of those types.

They woke me and I went to the windows to see what was up.  Then I saw the vehicle lights which were aimed at our vehicles.  Definitely not a good sign!

There are several reasons people with vehicles are in front of our home in the middle of the night:

  1. Gotta pee.  This is by-far the biggest reason.
  2. Dog has got to pee. 
  3. Check directions.  Since the road signs do not clearly tell drivers where to go, they will drive by several times, stop, review maps or GPS and then figure it out.
  4. Change drivers because the current one is starting to drift off.

But, I have to say, this one was a first:

  • As I was walking toward the widow where our vehicles are parked, I could see the top of someone’s head bobbing toward our door.  The window was open because the night was cool and I leaned over and yelled out, “What do you want?”  The poor kid jumped a foot! (Ok, I have to be honest and say that this made me laugh-internally- even though I was mad for the middle of the night disturbance.)  He then proceeded to apologize profusely for the intrusion, but he/they had a bad flat tire.  He asked if I had a jack.  My first reflex action was “NO!!”  I told him there was a garage just on the other side of the overpass and he could go there.  (I knew full well that they were not open after 5p.m. any day, so the kid(s) would have to wait till morning.  Serves them right for bugging me in the middle of the night!)  After several more minutes of begging, offering the $20 he had for my trouble, and swearing he was not up to something bad; the mom in me gave in.  I told him to pull in by my car and I went out to help.  The tire was shredded so they must have been riding on it for a while. I got the jack out of my car, they proceeded to replace the tire and then the little fart offered the $20 again.  I said no and then he asked if it was OK to give me a hug?  He was going to visit he grandparents and I remined him of them.  I caved in and then wished them a safe trip.  Through all of this my sister, who fell asleep on the couch, did not budge – JERK!

I shared the story with my sister and we both laughed.  Then she said was that she was proud I tried to not help them as we have sworn to each other to quit doing it.  We have had too many bad experiences with strangers in the last 10 years and are trying to quit being so nice.  The problem is, we were not raised that way.  Our parents raised us with do unto others and help those that cannot help themselves growing up so its embedded in our D.N.A.

I guess that with the state of things in the U.S. right now, maybe this little act of kindness is good thing and possibly even appreciated?  A jack?  In the middle of the night?  Man, I have gotten soft!

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MY 7-DWARF’S STRIKE AGAIN!

Short, squatty, dumpy, frumpy, snarky, gimpy, and yuck.  Yep, those little buggers in me are at it again.  First, it was the extreme heat that got them rumbling.  Then came the smoke from the Colorado fires.  Next was the smoke from the California fires.   Roll them all together, and my seven dwarfs strike again!

It’s been hard enough trying to keep the gardens going with the sun trying to bake them to a crisp, but the lack of rain has made it worse.  We are lucky and have our own well (we had it tested when we moved in – great water and a very full stash – yea!), but we still try to collect all the rainwater we can get our hands-on.  This year the tank fills have been few-and-far-between.

If you have been following me, you know I am an old-ish fart that has had too many major surgeries for such a young age.  Getting around now is nothing like getting around in my twenties.  Simple things like oh say, breathing, can be a challenge on a regular hot day.  Throw in smoke clouds so thick they block out the sun to an orange type of glow, and it becomes a battle.

Everything is being “spot” watered now.  I only use the sprinkler once a week in select areas.  The spot (hand) watering takes me about 3-4 times longer than my regular watering system.  The normal system takes me about 4-5 hours.  Currently, I start at about 5:00 a.m. and do not finish until around noon.  It is also hard on our well-pump, and that baby is only six years old.  I can feel her pain!

The final straw was this morning.  Working about my regular watering routine, I reached the greenhouse area.  We still don’t have a roof (thank you Colorado winds from hell, oh, and the tornado of 2018), but the plots are doing great.  This is the one place I actually laid out drip lines, AND THEY WORK!  I turn on the water line to this area, make sure my splitters are watering all my beautiful veggies first, and then proceed to wander the plot rows to see how everyone is doing. (Yes – every ”one” as I talk to them all just like I talk to humans.) 

I watch closely for anybody starting to turn color.  My method is to clear them out a bit so I can keep an eye on them every day.  When they get to just the right color, I nab them for our dinner table.  (If tons are coming in at once, they become canned, dried, or frozen foods)  I had a beauty of a tomato coming in.  Yesterday it was just about ready, but nope, I waited one more day.  I squatted down to pluck my perfect tomato (oh, by the way, it is about the size of a softball), and my fingers were covered in tomato guts-YUCK!!  DAMN MICE!!! 

We have farm cats all over the place, and I have yet to see them catch a single mouse.  The greenhouse is wide open, so they can come and go as they please.  They please to take a dump in there on occasion, but can’t seem to catch a mouse?  So, I wandered back to the house and got a trap.  It is set with peanut butter (favorite mouse food, in case you didn’t know) and sitting right now just under my poor beautiful tomato.  I swear, if I catch that stinking mouse, I will dangle it by the cat’s noses then feed it to the dogs! 

Maybe I need to buy some rubber snakes to set in my tomato bushes?  Then I can scare off the mice and myself when my old-ish age makes me forget that I placed them there.

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ONE OF MY MOST FAVORITES!

Farm kids find the simplest ways to entertain themselves.  Making hay is hard work, but building forts while putting that hay up in our barn was tons of fun.  (There were only regular small bales back then and, sad to say, there are very few places that still make them today.)  Rolling down our steep hills was also a form of great joy, and then there was the Milkweed plant.

It is a weed, so, as such,  most farmers would destroy them in favor of their paying crop.  We played with ours, which, I think, made our father a bit mad.  If you broke open the stem, it produced a milky substance that was very sticky (just try to mess with the plant without getting sticky!?!  Can’t happen.), but our favorite part was the pods.

It is a strong and pretty plant that produces a heavy bushy type of flower during the summer and is best known as the perfect food for the Monarch butterflies.  Then as the summer ends and fall begins, they grow these pods.  The pods are filled with tons of little brown seeds, and each seed is attached to a very light and feathery stem.  This is where dad would get mad.

We would break open the pods and purposefully pull out all the seeds on their feathers and throw them up into the air.  We would pretend they were little fairies floating all around us.  Pretty obvious why dad didn’t like it, but also pretty sure Mom Nature loved us for it.

Countryside.com just sent me this email:

Milkweed Plant: A Truly Remarkable Wild Vegetable

Discover the Many and Varied Milkweed Plant Uses, Including Sustenance for Butterflies

It is a perfect read, especially since I have never looked at them as a veggie, but they needed to add the joy that it can bring to little kids as one of its best benefits.

On a side note, I need to thank our neighbors.  They own big fields of paying crops (including crops that go into cow bellies) but have never stopped to ask us to get rid of them.  The plant was not originally on our farm.  The first one showed up in our front yard about five years ago, and my sister and I protected it.  No, we did not pop open the pod and watch the fairies dance (but it was a thought); it did that all on its own.  We just encouraged it to grow and enjoyed watching it feed our honeybees, butterflies, and other beneficial bugs.

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WHAT THE HECK IS IT MADE OF?

I know it is moth season (yes, we have a season for them), and I know that they help to feed the birds; but do they have to be so nasty?  And, what is there poop made of?

I hate that they get stuck in my hair AND CRUNCH when I try to get them out!  I hate that they fly right into my face over and over and over again (makes me think of a Coyote/Roadrunner cartoon), and it doesn’t phase them at all.

Wilie Coyote help

The worst thing of all is the poop they leave behind – EVERYWHERE!!  What the heck is that stuff made of?  I swear it is worse than tar to try to get off, and it ends up in the strangest places.  I found several yuckies on my DSL this morning, and the thing sits upright on a box (better air circulation since it gets kind of hot), and yet it has two trash marks from Millers on it.

Moth poo 6-3-20

Have you ever tried to clean that stuff off of something?

  • They are a bug and not a real smart one.
  • They are bird and bat food.
  • They don’t live very long.
  • They turn to dust in a heartbeat.
  • They squeeze into the smallest of places.
  • They pop out of the weirdest of spots.
  • THEY ARE EVERYWHERE!

I just don’t get how something so temporary can leave such a lasting mess.  With the large amount of them appearing this year, we will be trying to clean up after the little monsters until Christmas!

The other thing I hate about them is when they pop out by the dozens in the most unsuspecting spot.  I was cleaning up the gazebo and just shifted the chair cushions and got bombarded by a gang of them.  (Yes, I have decided that a group of more than one is called a “gang” because they are so destructive when gathered together.)

If any of you out there reading this has some great idea on how to get rid of these nasty leftovers easily, please share so I can tackle this mess.  Thank you!

miller-scary

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TIME TO BRING THEM BACK?

Growing up on a farm in Wisconsin in the 1960s was fun.  It was a ton of work, but I don’t remember thinking of it as work. I do remember the “special” things we did each week and other stuff just once every couple of months.

The weekly fun things were the Friday night trips to the grocery store with my dad, followed by a fun dinner (usually Dairy Queen-yum!).  Between my dad and my younger sister (his favorite by the way), it was always an enjoyable experience.  My sister did everything in her little power to make him laugh.  It was most times, her physically acting out.  Walking down the aisles as a mini-Hunchback dragging one arm and then talking to dad like the old movie icons: “Hey Roy (his name was Ray), can I hab dis?” Holding a chocolate bar in her hands.  He AWAYS gave into her!  I’m pretty sure it was mostly because she could make him laugh after a hard week at work.

The semi-monthly thing I remember was the outdoor movie theater.  Dad would make up a bunch of snacks (popcorn, mini-sandwiches, and cool-aid), so we never needed to buy stuff there.  Mom made sure we had blankets and pillows because we ALWAYS fell asleep before the movie ended. It was just us, our family, enjoying several hours together.  Yes, there are other families in cars around us, but we never knew they were there once the movie started.  We were in a world all our own!

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We would load ourselves and all of our supplies into the car, and away we went.  First stop was always the long line of anticipation – the drive-thru ticket taker (which NEVER seemed to move fast enough):

movie T ticket

The next phase was for all of us to scream at dad to “pick that spot, no – pick that one over there” to make sure we had the perfect place for all of us to witness the glory of the big screen (oh silly us – the area was designed so that every spot was for ideal viewing.).  Once found, the astounding addition of the speaker was added to the car.  It had to be hung on the partially rolled up window (oh – no electric windows for us back then) in just the right spot.  Several adjustments were made to position and sound for our absolute listening pleasure.

movie T speakers

There was the allure of the mystical Snack-Shack left hanging in the back of all the innocent child minds.  All cars had to pass it on the way in (bonus for the theater to entice the kids – sneaky!), thus urging everyone to run and purchase the necessary munchies and drinks BEFORE the previews started.  Get there fast.  Get there now.  Don’t interrupt the family movie night while the movie is running!

Our parents were brilliant!  They made the most of one of the cheapest, easiest ways to entertain the whole family:

  • We had food.
  • We had drinks.
  • We had blankets and pillows to keep us snug even on the coldest evenings (we NEVER turned on the car and wasted gas just to warm us up).
  • WE WERE TOGETHER AS A FAMILY!!

The last statement was the best of all.  We were together as a family, and that was the best thing:

  • No one was calling on the phone (yes youngsters – we had phones that hung on the wall or sat on a stand. Oh, and they did NOT tell us who was calling, because there was no fancy answering machine, so we had to answer the phone.) to interrupt us.
  • No one was stopping over unannounced. (Actually, our family had tons of family get-togethers which include kids playing on the farm while adults talked, played poker, and gossiped.)
  • No one or nothing could stop us from being all together, and having fun as a family should.

So, AMC Theaters (or whichever indoor theaters might happen to read this), here’s a money-maker idea for you:

  1. BRING BACK THE DRIVE-IN’S:
    1. Make everything drive-thru:
      1. Take tickets like they used to right from the cars as they pull in.
      2. Create a drive-thru Snack-Shack. Have the snacks posted just like fast-food restaurants have today. Make them long enough and large enough that the whole family can read the menu on their way to put in the order.  They (through the speaker system, also just like modern fast food) state their order, pull forward to pay, and pick up the goodies.  All from the convenience (and distancing) of their vehicle!
      3. Now here is where you should spend some money: speaker or sound system. The old drive-in sound systems were large and clumsy and sometimes had static.  With our modern technology, you should be able to come up with a much better, lighter system.  Still make it hook into each vehicle for that personal family experience.  Maybe something wireless?
      4. One last update addition: A unique bathroom system. I’m not sure how to do this, but if you can figure out an automatic system that can tell how many people in vs. how many people out.  You could still have several stalls, but the structure would know to unlock the “in” door when someone used the “out” door.  You could hang plastic sheets along the waiting hall so that people would have to stand and wait between the layers.  Perhaps an overhead sterilizing spray would go off as the “out” door would open, and people would move up to next-in-line?

I know you all think I’m on crack or something after reading this idea – well, no, I don’t do drugs.  I just read an article about the fight between AMC Theaters and Universal Pictures because movies need to go out, even when the theaters have to be closed.  I understand and sympathize with both sides of the story, so I came up with this beautiful idea for them all to get along.

Theaters make money.

            Movie-maker companies make money.

                        Safe distancing protocols would still be maintained.

                                    FAMILIES HAVE A FANTASTIC TIME ALL TOGETHER!

I say we start throwing this idea out there and get it done!  BRING BACK THE DRIVE-INS!

Movie T end

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I SWEAR, SOMETHING’S LIVING IN THERE!

We recently lost the last of our chickens.  This is not something new, as farmers we know there will always be predators that attack all parts of a farm.

  • Prairie dogs making leg-breaking holes in animal pastures.
  • Gophers-from-hell eating the roots of our asparagus.
  • Snakes popping up when you least expect them (luckily, I only had a Rattler once -knock on wood!).
  • Skunks hiding in the cat barn to sleep with a warm, furry, bundle of cats and eat their food (yes, one of them crawled out from the cat bed box on a frigid winter day and scared the snot out of me. I calmly said: “Good Morning.” Then backed out of the barn rather fast.).
  • An opossum choosing to hang out in our barn to avoid bad storms (the little sucker hung around for over a week, and popped up in a variety of places.).

oppossum

I want to find out what monster is living in my chicken barn, but a big part of me is also afraid.  Just my luck, it will lunge at me when I discover it (eeek!!). My sister was so nice and brought up the option that it might be a badger – great?!?  Yes, we do have those out here, but we have not seen any on our property since we first bought the farm (2000).  We initially had one living on the side of the hill by the pond.  We left it alone, and it left us alone.  Roughly four years later, it disappeared.  We have not noticed any living signs on our property since (would like it to stay that way – mean critters!).

badger

During cold winter times, we purchase the critter foods and put them immediately into containers.  Then the empty bags are piled up until spring and then put into the trash.  We usually put bags into bags and simply leave them until the weather is warmer for dragging the empties to our trash.  Things have been so strange this year, that the bags have piled up.  My fear is my monster is hiding in that pile.

I have left the barn door open the last several nights (since the loss of our last chicken) in hopes that whatever got stuck in the barn has now made its way out.  Today is the day of discovery.  My task, since the winds-from-hell have subsided, is to get in there and pull everything out.  We stored large dog kennels, that we used for various reasons, in there.  I have peeked into those already and no monsters.  I do want to drag them out so I can get back in the corner behind them.   Wish me luck that all meanies are gone!

Here’s to spring cleaning – eeek!

spring cleaning

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