Sunday, December 30, 2012

fruiting on my shiitake log in Decemnber (Mich)???

I went for a walk in my food forests this weekend, and I found fruit on one of my shiitake logs yesterday. Went out and snapped some photos today. The fruit IS coming out around the shiitake dowels I put in the log in the spring, but it isn't shiitake..probably some stupid foreigner got ahold..hope the shiitake is still growing in there..but this is only one of several logs and others show no growth yet.

Unfortunately this is NOT shiitake fruit..not sure what it is or if it is edible.
Maybe I'll send the photos to Paul Stament and find out if he recognizes it ..and really should anything be growing in 34 degree weather in Michigan in December??

End of 2012/ looking forward to 2013

Well here we are at the end of 2012. The drought seems to be over as we have had a wet winter, there is snow on the ground now.
BRRRRRRRRRRRRRR...This photo was taken from my dining room window toward the back gardens.

Well it is time for dreaming and planning now..can't do much outside other than shovel.

This week I sent out an order for 4 new fruit trees and a bunch of open pollinated garden seeds. We had a horrible drought with extreme heat last year, quite unusual for Michigan and so we lost a lot of plants, seeds and had damage to some of our trees. Also there was a very late hard freeze for a few days that destroyed all the fruit tree buds in May and June, so we had very little fruit crop for 2012.

The new fruit trees that I ordered were 2 standard peach trees, one a Reliance and one an Elberta, both freestone and very hardy for our area. I ordered another sweet cherry, Stella, this one is supposed to be "self fruitful" and it is standard size. The Windsor that I got last year had no real root and died, so it is to be replaced this spring, it is also a sweet cherry and standard, so there will be two new sweet cherries planted in 2013.

The large apple tree in the photo above on the left, is a volunteer from an apple core that had been thrown out many years ago. We believe the apple that began it was a Northern spy, probably crossed with whatever was in the area. It has medium size apples that come on quite late and are good keepers and are very tasty, but do have a bit of a bug problem from time to time. The 4th tree I ordered is a Nova Spy. It should be a good pollinator for this old tree, it is also a standard so we'll put them fairly close to each other.

In my food forests we have some trees reaching bearing stage at last. We got a really good first crop off of our 6 hazelnuts in 2012. They were small but very tasty (now I need to get a really good hazelnut nutcracker). No crop on any of the other nut trees in 2012, maybe next year, they are all still quite small. I even put in a few new nut tree babies this past year. So now we have black walnut, butternut, carpathian walnut, heartnut, sweet chestnut, hazelnut, Halls hardy almond, hickory nut that we hope soon will grow large enough to bear.

We had only 2 pears that formed on one of our pear trees this past year and one fell off, so we had one to eat, and it was heavenly  !! Hopefully we won't have those late freezes this year and we'll get a nice crop of pears. I have several kinds of trees and even have some roots that survived from trees where grafts died that I'm leaving in (I have the room for whatever comes of them). The other fruit trees didn't fare even as well as the pears, as we had no fruit on any of them except one fruit on the baby Medlar that I put in this year. Most of them are at bearing age so we are quite hopeful for 2013.

We did have a few lovely grapes on some of our newer grape vines this year, they were delicious.

We had the best crops ever of our asparagus and rhubarb this year, but the drought did a lot of damage on the annuals especially.

We had some good black raspberries, but they didn't last as long as they should have and the blueberries and other berries were pretty sad.

With all the moisture we have gotten so far this Winter, I am very hopeful that we'll have a better crop year, also I hope to be able to get some more mulching materials this year (our truck is still dead but we were given a lovely mini van which I can use to haul stuff with..woo hoo).

My old eyes are getting worse so I'm going to try a few things this year, one I have tried before and others are new to me. In the past I have planted PURPLE green beans and YELLOW ones too..well this year I'm doing that again and planting them up on a higher raised hugel bed. Hopefully  this will make them easier for me to pick (and see)..the purple ones turn green when cooked.

I also found a white cucumber, yup white, so I'm planting those this year also, green on green is very difficult for my eyes to see so that is the plan.

Well as I said, the tree and seed order went in. Henry Fields has a great sale going and I got some really great I couldn't resist. I am sure I'll order some more seeds (just can't help myself) and  who knows, might go crazy and get more fruit trees, there is still some open ground available.

Anyway, Happy New Year to all of you and hope your 2013 is bountiful.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

some of our fall mushrooms ..poison and non poison

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Amanita muscaria

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Amanita muscaria
A. muscaria
showing various growth stages
Scientific classification e
Species:A. muscaria
Binomial name
Amanita muscaria
(L.:Fr.) Lam.
Amanita muscaria
View the Mycomorphbox template that generates the following list
Mycological characteristics
gills on hymenium
cap is flat
or convex
hymenium is free
stipe has a ring and volva
spore print is white
ecology is mycorrhizal
edibility: poisonous
or psychoactive
Amanita muscaria, commonly known as the fly agaric (play /ˈæɡərɪk/) or fly amanita (play /ˌæməˈntə/), is a poisonous and psychoactive basidiomycete fungus, one of many in the genus Amanita. Native throughout the temperate and boreal regions of the Northern Hemisphere, Amanita muscaria has been unintentionally introduced to many countries in the southern hemisphere, generally as a symbiont with pine plantations, and is now a true cosmopolitan species. It associates with various deciduous and coniferous trees. The quintessential toadstool, it is a large white-gilled, white-spotted, usually deep red mushroom, one of the most recognizable and widely encountered in popular culture. Several subspecies, with differing cap colour, have been recognised to date, including the brown regalis (considered a separate species), the yellow-orange flavivolvata, guessowii, formosa, and the pinkish persicina. Genetic studies published in 2006 and 2008 show several sharply delineated clades that may represent separate species.
Although it is generally considered poisonous, deaths from its consumption are extremely rare, and it is eaten as a food in parts of Europe, Asia, and North America after parboiling. Amanita muscaria is noted for its hallucinogenic properties, with its main psychoactive constituent being the compound muscimol. It was used as an intoxicant and entheogen by the peoples of Siberia and has a religious significance in these cultures. There has been much speculation on traditional use of this mushroom as an intoxicant in places other than Siberia; however, such traditions are far less well documented. The American banker and amateur ethnomycologist R. Gordon Wasson proposed that the fly agaric

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Coprinopsis atramentaria

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Coprinopsis atramentaria
C. atramentaria
Scientific classification
Species:C. atramentaria
Binomial name
Coprinopsis atramentaria
(Bull.) Redhead, Vilgalys & Moncalvo (2001)
Coprinus atramentarius
Coprinopsis atramentaria
View the Mycomorphbox template that generates the following list
Mycological characteristics
gills on hymenium
cap is ovate
hymenium is free
stipe is bare
spore print is black
ecology is saprotrophic
edibility: edible
or poisonous

Scientific name: Coprinus comatus
Image - Photo of the edible Shaggy Mane mushroom (Coprinus comatus)
This Shaggy Mane mushroom's cap has begun melting into black goo.
About one-half actual size.
The Shaggy Mane mushroom (Coprinus comatus; see photo, above) is a very common, visually distinctive mushroom with a really nice flavor. The Shaggy Mane mushroom is quite popular, and is among the four mushrooms author Clyde M. Christensen listed back in 1943 as "the fool-proof four." Personally, I don't consider any edible wild mushroom to be fool-proof—the fools Christensen had met apparently weren't of the same calibre as some of the ones I have met!

The Shaggy Mane mushroom's most salient hallmarks are the bulletlike shape of its cap, which is reliably covered with delicate white scales—one cannot handle the Shaggy Mane mushroom without getting bits of those white scales on his hands—and the fact that the mushroom's cap "melts" into an inky black goo, starting at the edge of the cap (see photo, below). Be sure that the Shaggy Mane mushroom is at least four inches or so in height with a weight of several ounces each; this will rule out much smaller, more delicate species, including some dangerous Lepiotas and several small "edibility uncertain" species of Coprinus. Though the Shaggy Mane mushroom is a gilled mushroom, its gills are very tightly packed; the beginner might not even immediately recognize them as gills. Nonetheless, it is important that the mushroom hunter checks to make sure that her specimens do have gills before cooking and eating them.

The Shaggy Mane mushroom fruits on the ground, primarily on lawns but even on bare ground—it has even been known to push up through gravelly, hard-packed soil or old pavement! Its season runs from spring through autumn (it's not unusual to find it on the same lawn in the spring and again that same fall). As with all wild foods, it is very important to avoid collecting specimens from contaminated habitats; I have seen a massive fruiting of the Shaggy Mane mushroom on a polluted industrial "brownfield."
Image - Photo of the edible Shaggy Mane mushroom (Coprinus comatus)
The entire genus Coprinus is noted for "melting" into black goo (which contains huge numbers of spores!), hence they are, as a group, commonly called "Inky Caps." If one notes the robust size and the distinctive scales of the Shaggy Mane mushroom, there's only one species (actually, it's probably a group of several different closely related species) with which it is likely to be confused by a reasonably careful person: The Scaly Inky Cap (C. variegatus = C. quadrifidus; see photo, below), which has whitish scales but lacks the Shaggy Mane mushroom's overall white color. Some people do eat C. variegatus, but I strongly advise against that, as it has been known to cause gastrointestinal symptoms for some folks and also seems to react very unpleasantly with alcohol in people who've consumed both within a period of a few days (for more information on this phenomenon, see COPRINE on the Poisonous American Mushrooms webpage).
Image - Photo of the poisonous Scaly Inky Cap mushroom (Coprinus variegatus)
One other mushroom in genus Coprinus, the so-called "Alcohol Inky" (Coprinus atramentarius, see photo below), is also noted for its toxicity when eaten in conjunction with alcoholic beverages. It is far less likely to be mistaken for the Shaggy Mane mushroom, but the wise mushroom hunter will nevertheless be aware of it so as to prevent the possibility of adverse reactions.
Image - Photo of the poisonous Scaly Inky Cap mushroom (Coprinus variegatus)
There's a lot more information about the Shaggy Mane mushroom and other choice edible wild mushroom species
in my best-selling book, Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America.
Coprinopsis atramentaria, commonly known as the common ink cap or inky cap, is an edible (but sometimes poisonous, see below) mushroom found in Europe and North America. Previously known as Coprinus atramentarius, it is the second best known ink cap and previous member of the genus Coprinus after C. comatus. It is a widespread and common fungus found throughout the northern hemisphere. Clumps of mushrooms arise after rain from spring to autumn, commonly in urban and disturbed habitats such as vacant lots and lawns, as well as grassy areas. The grey-brown cap is initially bell-shaped before opening, after which, it flattens and disintegrates. The flesh is thin and the taste mild. It can be eaten but is poisonous when consumed with alcohol – hence another common name, tippler's ban

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fall and new hugel bed

Well it is fall here now and we have MOST of our firewood put up. We did have a few logs go punky before we could get them cut up and stacked, so we have decided on an alternate idea for using those punky logs as well as some stumps, hard to use tree parts, branches, etc.

We are building a new baby hugelkulture bed just east of the house, very close so that we'll have at least one of our gardens close enough to run out and pick something for dinner rather than 200' away.

Joel has a crappy front lawn (our son) so we stripped off the sod for him to use in his yard, much better, and then we discovered a nice deep topsoil of rich black dirt.

In digging to see how deep that topsoil was we discovered it was likely 18" and then Joel dug all the black dirt off of the area and set it aside to redistribute the wealth on top of the bed when finished..(election terms sticking in my head this week).

After piling the soil to the side we quit for the night, and there was some water seeped in from the water table, there is also a drain sock in one corner that leads to a drain tile to a ditch, so it wouldn't ever fill completely with water.

I was standing on the deck when I took this photo, there is about 25' between the deck and the bed so it will be much closer to go and harvest produce. You can see that there is a spruce tree on the NE side of the bed and N of there is also a baby maple tree. Out in the field are baby weeping willows and other trees such as pines and maples..and north of this area is a large pond that the water drains into from this lawn area. My son's house is to the south east (right).

The next day Joel began chaining up piles of punky logs and hauling them to the hole, and stacking them a matter of 2 days he got two layers and a third layer on one side which he began backfilling with some soil with sawdust and wood chips and bark in it, and then with the black can see more dirt piled to the left of the backfilled area, that will go over the right side when we finish stacking logs in there.

The trees that I'm peering through to take the photos are 3 dwarf pear trees planted right next to the railing of my decking..the deck is the full length of the side of our house and there is a greenhouse and woodshed here as we leave a drive through so we can get to the woodshed on the left.

Eventually we'll finish both sides of the bed, rake the top off even and then we'll mulch it well with compost, grass clippings and chopped fall leaves and we'll continue to add compost over the winter. We'll plant some areas with some winter wheat and other winter crops to stabilize it over the winter..and we'll plant a couple of baby peach trees either this fall or early spring on the west side (hoping the bed will help protect the peaches from late spring frosts).

All of our gardens are mixed edible food forest gardens and this one will be too when we are able to plant it, we'll use the peach trees as well as some comfrey, rhubarb, herbs and of course perennial and annual crops.

(editing) Last night Joel finished off filling the right side of the hugelbed with more logs, including some aspen cordwood and punky stuff. He finished piling on some sawdust, woodchips and bark as well as the rest of the black soil and smoothing it over some ...still have to put on the mulch but this is the fnished bed before mulch or planting.

and no, Jimmy Hoffa is NOT buried in our yard..this is reallly a hugelbed..

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Our drought is breaking, hope for a fall crop yet

Well we are finally getting rain after a  horrible drought and extremely hot summer. Our pond levels are back to normal, which is amazing, and things are beginning to grow again. Some things were totally lost from the drought, but thankfully many more survived.

Also had a few blessings that were NOT expected. 2 days ago I found hazelnuts on 4 of our 6 hazelnut trees, which we put in as tiny stick cuttings about 4 years ago. And my baby Medlar tree that I put in this year as a small sapling, has a fruit on it, can't wait to blett it this fall and try it as I've never had Medlar fruit.

I'm also trying to get into my head what I want to plant for a fall garden. Need to pull out my seeds I have left and see what I can get into the ground that still has time to grow . The forcast is for a hot August, a cold September and a hot October, which should make for a good season for a fall garden. A few of my plantings survived the drought but are not doing very well, so I'm hoping they'll recover with this rain now and actually grow some food. I also have squash bugs on the summer squash. I've tried oil soaps to kill them as well as squishing, but they have been winning the battle, any organic suggestions that won't harm my bees would be helpful and much appreciated.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cast Iron and other cookware and how to care for it

I have collected cast iron cookware since I have been married and use it for nearly all my cooking. I just got a new set of stainless steel cookware so I can throw away all the nonstick stuff I have left, which aren't very many I hate using the stuff but have a few things I still have been using them for.

Here is a link to caring for cast iron that you should go to if you have any questions about cast iron care:

Cast iron cookware will last you a lifetime if properly cared for, stainless steel cookware will also last you a lifetime if properly cared for. Another thing I collect is glass ovenware, which is much more fragile but is also a healthy alternative.

Non stick and aluminum cookware is thought to have poisonous aspects, such as the nonstick surfaces flaking off and the aluminum leaching into your food, both which have been considered contributing to health problems, including alzheimers.

Here are a few photos of my cast iron cookware collection. Many of them are antique but some of them that were gifts or picked up at garage sale are more recent cheaper replicas, but still work well.

Here I have 4 cast iron saucepans, 2 lids, a large pot with a bail and 6 cast iron fry pans hanging from the rack. On the rack is an antique corn muffin pan and a new press, and also a collection of old rolling pins.(14 cast iron pieces)
Here I have my favorite cast iron pans that I use daily, the two larger skillets, as well as a crepe pan and an abelskeiver pan. A set of very cheap cast iron utensils on a cast iron rack. 5 cast iron trivets as well as a tin soldier pan, a bear muffin pan and a reversible bear/gingerbread house pan that I picked up this summer at a flea market (the molds are not old either).Out of the picture is also a very small fry pan (17 pieces)
And these are my griddles. I have a  6 burner stove with cast iron grates on the top and the long griddle fits nicely in the center over a long that. (2 pieces) I also have 3 or 4 pieces in the cabinets that I didn't have room to hang on the island. So about 35 pieces right now all together in my cast iron cookware collection. Used to also have a cast iron wood burning cookstove but had to part with that...and yes I miss it.

I'm always on the look out for a new piece to add to my collection, but I really don't NEED any more. I have done a fairly good job about limiting the things I DO collect any more, down to only books, good cookware and some dishes, and of course outside plants and trees. Used to have tons of collections but now I have just a few of my favorite pieces and the collections are gone..thank God they were very difficult to care for.

Here is a photo of my hanging pot rack. I just bought the stainless steel cookware and haven't even tried it out yet, still also have 6 pieces left of my old cookkware hanging up there, but will be tossing most of that as soon as I can bring myself to doing it. All the rest of my cookware collections and glass bakeware are in pull out cabinets (finally) as being partially disabled it is so difficult for me to reach them in regular lower cabinets. The island came with pull out cabinets and I put some wire pull out bins in some other cabinets too.

I'm new to the stainless steel so I'm not really too sure on how to care for them, but I do know that they aren't considered dishwasher safe and you cannot use bleach on them. I am allergic to metals, so I'm hoping that switching from the nonstick to the stainless in my non cast iron cookware, that maybe that will be an additional boon to healthy living for me. Also I won't be eating flaking nonstick surfaces either. It will be a learning experience but I will be looking forward to it. Would appreciate any tips on caring for the stainless from any that have good tips for me..thanks.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

More tree planting

On July 14 my BIL came up and brought me a bucket of cuttings that he had from pruning his Austrees..(hybrid willow) and a potted black walnut that a squirrel had brought in.

Well the walnut went west of the other black walnut growing in the back, so that they will wind pollinate each other, and after spending a few days in the pond the Austree willow cuttings were planted here and there around the property.

I put about 10 of them east of the n/s ditch east of our pond along the property line area..and more on the west side of the same ditch..staggering them to where they will make a fairly consistant screen from the east view.  East of Joel's garage are 2 or 3, then 2 or 3 north of there along the ditch, then across the ditch 2 or 3 east and 2 or 3 west of the mown trail, then farther north the same, 2 or 3 east and 2 or 3 west of the mown trail..and 4 more west of the dtich..with a total of about 18 along the ditch staggaring on both sides and across the not one solid line north to south, but will appear fairly solid as an eastern shade line.

This will make a pretty consistant wildlife corridor from the  woods to the road. There are also a lot of white pine, red pine and hemlock trees as well as maple, alder, aspen , and other trees and shrubs between these trees, and lots of wildflowers and even some siberian iris and jerusalem add to the screening, wildlife corridor effect.

Then the remaining trees were planted here and there in the yard (2 in Joel's back yard and one by the pond west, and the rest in the woods N.)

Willows are great when grown for wildlife habitat, esp birds. These are a hybrid that is supposed to grow very quickly, up to 10 feet per year topping out from 40 to 65 feet tall when full grown.

I hope we get rain so that they take root quickly and grow fast, we really would enjoy having the taller trees along that ditch esp as there is a great need for shade there.

We will continue to put in trees, seed, cuttings, etc when they come available ..esp fruit these areas to continue to bring the more open land into a more wooded setting in the future, and esp food forest type settings .

Friday, July 20, 2012

note from Paul wheaton's chicken feed blog
I used to sell my chickens for almost exactly the same price I paid for feed. And the story for the eggs was pretty much the same. This is not sustainable.
So I started exploring ways to cut feed costs and ended up on techniques that not only eliminate feed costs, but also provides a far higher quality of feed! My goal was to cut my chicken feed bill by 80% or more.
When I was first trying to figure out a better solution, I was thinking about growing all the stuff that comes in a bag of feed. Grain mostly.
So then I was thinking that I would harvest it, store it, and feed it to the chickens later. Wow, a lot of work. And I’m a lazy bastard. So what can I do to be lazier? Can I get the chickens to maybe harvest some of it? I’ll plant the grain and put the chickens where the grain is and they will figure out how to get it? I see other birds doing that.
In time my plans grew bigger and bigger. After all, if you let the chickens into the garden, they will eat damn near everything. While that leaves less garden for me, that also makes for less chicken feed bill.
Source: Irene Kightley
So then I got the idea of planting a lot of perennial stuff that chickens like. And how about stuff that is annual, but manages to reseed itself? And fruit trees? Berry canes?
This whole path became richer and richer and richer. And now …. ladies and gentlemen, I present to you …. a system where I spend absolutely zero on chicken feed. And the chickens eat a far richer diet than moldy, dried up, commercial “chicken feed.”
Wanting something that the chickens can harvest themselves, I considered two angles: 1) most chicken food per acre per year, and 2) most chicken food per acre in January.
Imagine an area for the chickens which has an enormous mulberry tree dropping fruit throughout June, July and August. There is a plethora of clover, alfalfa, grains, sunflowers, buckwheat, peas, and lentils in the more open areas. Fruit and nut trees are surrounded by siberian pea shrubs, chickweed, comfrey, dandelion, amaranth, nettles, and sunchokes. Maybe some raspberries and blueberries are in the mix too.
Assuming it is summer, why would a chicken eat dried up “chicken feed” with this bounty at hand?
Generally I have a lot more chickens in the summer time, before many get moved to the freezer, but I still need winter chicken feed. What, specifically, to grow depends on a lot of factors.
Source: Irene Kightley
Source: Irene Kightley
How much room do you have; how cold does it get; what is your soil like; how much does it rain …. Some plants produce more food per acre per year than other plants. And some produce food for a just a week and others produce food for six months.
The best producers appear to be mulberry trees (lots of fruit dropped constantly over three months) and wheat (when grown with the Fukuoka-Bonfils winter wheat method). Sepp Holzer pushes a perennial rye and sunchokes as the core chicken/pig feeds.
I advocate using the chicken paddock shift system. And along with that, I think that the lion’s share of the people food should be grown in those same paddocks. A lot of the stuff we eat is great chicken food! And the chickens clean up anything we drop and anything we leave behind. Less waste.
So, my top 10 list of the best perennial chicken feed is a work in progress, but mulberry trees definitely makes my #1 spot. They are perennial and are heavy producers of feed all summer. And, they actually contain protein! They sound rather dreamy for chicken feed!
Other crops I’m experimenting with:

Someday I hope to have my own chickens, but I would like to get these plants up and growing and producing first, to save me having to spend a lot of $ on chicken feed. My goal is only to have about 6  chickens and a rooster so I can have fertilized eggs, and I'll need to have a coop and some pasture fenced to keep them out of my annual gardens, etc. I'm going to use this thread to add on other things I find on feeding chickens in the well.

Friday, July 6, 2012

attempting to link flash earth map of our property

Hopefully this will take you to a flashearth link to our property..This is the south part (road side) and it shows our house and property in  the center, sons on the right and neighbors on the left. I beleive it must have been taken during either late winter or early spring as there is very little foliage (only  the evergreens) and there is a shadow in our front yard of the large tree that we had cut early spring, so it was taken before then. Also our neighbors have redug their pond and it is now larger. The squiggly lines east of our son's house is a radio control car track he built how it shows up.Also this map has to be at least 3 years old, as the bridge to our island isn't shown or the waterfall and there are a lot more clay piles around the pond then there were this spring..most are moved it is probably 2010 in my estimation. Roads are also not visible into the woods. Wonder when they'll update it? Oh and our lattice surrounding the rear fence was just partially up at that time too, so that dates it at least back to 2010.

this second link is the NORTH end of the property, woodsy can see the drainage ditches that go back to the woods and that come off of the side road in a curve..and at the far SW corner you can see our old broken down horse barn..the rest is mostly just shadows of the deciduous trees in the woods and the colorful evergreens..,-85.33456&spn=0.001176,0.001781&ctz=240&t=h&z=19

Trying google earth, it is more updated but still from spring when only evergreens were in foliage, however this one shows
the bridge to the island, more of the lattice up around the rear garden and a few more updated things..but this still shows
the large tree in the front yard so it was taken before that was taken down in the spring.,-85.334469&spn=0.001176,0.001781&ctz=240&t=h&z=19

This map you can see slight shadows where the trails go through the woods as well.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fireworks at Joels 7/3/2012

And also Katelin ...taken by flashlight at night.
It was a nice time, they had a bonfire and finished off with black raspberries from our patch..People that were there were Dave and Amanda and their kids, Joel, Nick and Katelin. We watched from our deck next door. Happy 4th ya'll.