Homesteading as Prepping?

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Homesteading as Prepping?

Postby mamabearCali » Wed, 04 Dec 2013 11:28:18

We are begining to implement our exit plan from suburbia to relocate out to the country. We are planning on building our house on somewhere between 5 and 20 acres. Then adding on the needful thing to make our life more free from the system.

So far this is what I have planned. A wood burning stove. One can live without AC here in VA, but the winters could be lethal without heat.

A vegetable garden. I have been gardening here in this house learning good lessons and figuring out what works for us. I can grow a ton of things, but right now I have to limit it to a 4X12 bed.

Chickens....some to lay eggs some to eat.

Goats, spanish goats if I can as they are supposed to be dual purpose meat and milk. But I will likely simply take what I can get (2 does, 1 buck, 1 wether to keep the buck company).

Sheep....to eat and to have some fiber to learn how to spin. Thinking again 3 ewes, 1 buck, 1 wether. If I can I will keep the sheep and goats together and separate at night to feed them (the goats need copper and the sheep can't have it!)

Rabbits.....look I know they are cute and cuddly but I think they will make decent food for us as well. Also their skins could be used for very many things.

2 pigs to eat the left overs and to turn scraps into meat.

When we can some solar power to keep the water pump on even if the power goes out.


Ok.....so my fellow compatriots with our :tinfoil: on. What am I missing. What haven't I thought of. Yall with many years of wisdom help a greenhorn out.



I grew up on a ranch, but left when I was ten. We had cows not sheep and goats. But I am not keeping cows on such a small piece of land.

Something else to consider. My husband though he loves a good piece of pork and a chicken dinner is not ok with helping me slaughter. I have no ethical concerns about it (I'll shed a tear, then get to work making that pig my childrens dinner). Just the logistics of it worry me a bit. (I am only a 5 foot 5 inch woman--not very strong).


Thanks yall!
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Re: Homesteading as Prepping?

Postby Palladin » Wed, 04 Dec 2013 12:23:32

Good stuff, Mamabear. :clap: I'll run my comments in PMs.
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Re: Homesteading as Prepping?

Postby dorminWS » Wed, 04 Dec 2013 12:52:48

@MBC:
As far as your limited garden space goes, it reminded me of something that you may or may not have known about: Around here flat ground is at a premium and good garden space even if it is not plumb flat ain't all that easy to come by. So the custom has been (at least among the old-timers) to plant corn and beans in the same row and let the beans climb the corn. Don't know if that is common in other areas or not, but thought I'd mention it.
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Re: Homesteading as Prepping?

Postby SHMIV » Wed, 04 Dec 2013 13:17:23

My folks had Nubian goats when I was a boy. Fun times. They like to escape, on occasion. And, they really want to be king of the mountain. Once the find their mountain, they ain't comin' down until they want to.

So, should you find a goat on your car one morning, just get in and start driving. Don't do as my father did. After trying to pull the goat from the car roof, unsuccessfully, he loaded some snake shot in the ol' .22, and peppered that goats hind quarters. The goat then proceeded to dance vigorously upon the car roof, but still maintained her position as king of the mountain. The car looked like it went through a hail storm, after that.

In regards to the chickens, keep them safe from the dog. Should the dog get hold to a chicken, the dog will be ruined; apparently, chickens are crack for dogs. After the first one, that dog won't stop until he's eaten all of your chickens, and probably the neighbors chickens.

Pigs, according to my cousin, who has experience in that field, are downright clever escape artists. His last pig disassembled the gate, went under the fence, cut through the fence, and basically defeated every measure taken to keep him penned. Finally, my cousin decided to send the thing to the butcher.

Look, pigs eat people. One of your kids gets in the hog pen, that is a very real and fatal danger to your child. And, you too. You may want to hold off on the pigs until your kids get bigger, or your husband is home all the time, or both.

Maybe you can trade rabbit and goat meat for pig meat from a neighbor.

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Re: Homesteading as Prepping?

Postby GeneFrenkle » Wed, 04 Dec 2013 13:43:21

Just some comments:

>>We are planning on building our house on somewhere between 5 and 20 acres. Then adding on the needful thing to make our life more free from the system.

Keep in mind it takes a _lot_ of work to maintain 20 acres if you expect to keep it all cleared. You mentioned having some sheep, which will help, but it won't handle everything. You'll also need big tools - like a tractor, bush hog, cultivator, and whatnot.

>>So far this is what I have planned. A wood burning stove. One can live without AC here in VA, but the winters could be lethal without heat.

We heat our main living area with wood exclusively (top level is heat pump, but it's set on low as heat rises). Make sure you can get a steady supply of logs to cut up, as well as time to do it and a location to keep the wood dry so it can season. You can go through many cords of wood per year.

>>A vegetable garden. I have been gardening here in this house learning good lessons and figuring out what works for us. I can grow a ton of things, but right now I have to limit it to a 4X12 bed.

You'll also need to protect your garden from rabbits, deer, possum, racoon, birds, etc. Recommend you put some fencing around it (like chicken wire) up at least two foot. Also look into putting border plants around which might help keep the varmints out. Plan for watering, too. You don't want to run your well unnecessarily.

>> Chickens....some to lay eggs some to eat.
Figure you'll need a place to keep them that can be protected from fox, racoon, cats, coyote, etc. A chicken tractor might be an option. Also figure on molt time when eggs will not be available, a place to separate sick birds or introduce new birds, and rotating out the hens (think stew pot) when they get older (this means you'll also need to have a supply of chicks or hatch your own in your incubator). They'll need some feed as well as outside time. You're best off in training them young to help get them back into the henhouse. Might want to consider getting some guinea, too, to help with ticks and whatnot. They also make a huge racket if something comes into their sight so they're kinda like guard dogs in that respect.

>>Goats, spanish goats if I can as they are supposed to be dual purpose meat and milk. But I will likely simply take what I can get (2 does, 1 buck, 1 wether to keep the buck company).

You'll need to be careful about the goats during rutting. The bucks will get "odoriferous" and will make all meat a little .... challenging. Also, you have to slaughter the goats while they're young to get decent meat. Milking on does will only occur when they give birth, so make sure you have a supply of collostrum available (it can be kept frozen for a year) because you'll need it when birthing starts (usually on the coldest or nastiest night). Also consider the goats need to be trained and handled a lot when young otherwise they can become bullies.


>>Sheep....to eat and to have some fiber to learn how to spin. Thinking again 3 ewes, 1 buck, 1 wether. If I can I will keep the sheep and goats together and separate at night to feed them (the goats need copper and the sheep can't have it!)

There is also all stock which can help. Both can use hay, so you'll need to get a supply of that for late fall through early spring if you plan on them grazing the remainder of the time. Do not treat the sheep as pets - the rams will then consider you part of their flock and try to keep you in line. For meat, same consideration as goats - timing and age. Get good shearing equipment and find a reasonable resource to help prepare the wool for spinning. If you'd like a resource in spinning, let me know and I can look up where my Wife learned to spin. She went to a weekend long course in it. Also, consider the kinds of sheep you're interested in. They have different kinds of wool.

>>Rabbits.....look I know they are cute and cuddly but I think they will make decent food for us as well. Also their skins could be used for very many things.
Rabbit skin is ok to work with, it's just thin and prone to ripping if handled roughly. The meat value of a rabbit is ok, but if you've got wild ones (prolly would), use them instead. It's cheaper than raising them.

>> 2 pigs to eat the left overs and to turn scraps into meat.
You need to be really careful where you house your pigs. Too close to neighbors and there will be complaints of smell. They will dig up everything they can, and depending upon size, can be quite the handful. Ours were Hampshires and I spent a lot of time training them to be docile with me. I could climb into the pen with them. I wouldn't recommend doing that as they can get quite violent and they can be hard to stop. Ring their nose so they don't tear up everything. Make a pallet-based enclosure for them to live in. In terms of meat production, pigs are hard to beat.

>>When we can some solar power to keep the water pump on even if the power goes out.
Recommend tying to the house so you can more easily manage power distribution between things like freezers and pumps. Might also want to consider a pig-tail to plug in a mobile generator or maybe a whole house one. You also might want to consider seeing if the property has an older well where you can pop the cap and drop down a bucket. Newer wells have pretty small openings making this a challenge. You'll also have to plan for water for the animals in the middle of winter with _no_power_, too. Water in troughs and waterers tends to freeze and may not be kept liquid just by animal body heat.


For meat animals, you can do all processing yourself or you can send the meat out. If you outsource it, make sure you have a means to transport the animals and carefully select the processor. They'll probably end up "losing" some meat, provide no guarantee that the animal you bring is will be what's in the package you pick up (yes, many will not differentiate between your carefully raised animal and another that was given all sorts of trash to eat so it'd have subpar meat), find a large animal vet (may be difficult and some large animal vets will not handle some kinds of animals), find a good farrier or learn how to do it yourself (some farriers will not work with goats or sheep), you'll need a milking stand for the goats or sheep.

Also consider what it'll take to continue employment as a 90 minute one-way commute each day eats up the gas, maintenance, and insurance money (not to mention it gets really tiring quickly). All that time also takes away from morning and afternoon chores.

You may want to look into a donkey for herd protection.

If you don't know how to, learn canning and have a good root cellar. You'll also need out buildings and barns for the animals to include separate facilities for injured, sick, or new animals (biocontainment). You never throw newly acquired animals in with your existing stock.

Basically, what you're talking about in your post is what my Wife and I started doing 10 years ago (current inventory are turkeys, chickens, guinea, sheep, goats, horses, rabbit). In the past we've done pigs, ducks and geese, too.

One other thing - make sure you check the zoning (do not rely on the realtors or the sellers on this) to ensure it's the right type. There can be limited residential which may or may not permit animals or on-farm sales of products. This may also limit your ability to handle things like groundhogs, fox, coyote, etc. with a rifle or shotgun due to ordinances.
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Re: Homesteading as Prepping?

Postby mamabearCali » Wed, 04 Dec 2013 13:45:38

If you butcher the pigs at 9 months are they big enough (and mean enough) to be a danger to people? I am not planning on breeding pigs as I had heard they get mean.
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Re: Homesteading as Prepping?

Postby Kreutz » Wed, 04 Dec 2013 13:54:02

dorminWS wrote:@MBC:
As far as your limited garden space goes, it reminded me of something that you may or may not have known about: Around here flat ground is at a premium and good garden space even if it is not plumb flat ain't all that easy to come by. So the custom has been (at least among the old-timers) to plant corn and beans in the same row and let the beans climb the corn. Don't know if that is common in other areas or not, but thought I'd mention it.


Three sisters planting.

http://www.reneesgarden.com/articles/3sisters.html

I have a hill I'm hoping to terrace this early spring, I also have a shortage of sunny flat ground.


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Re: Homesteading as Prepping?

Postby mamabearCali » Wed, 04 Dec 2013 13:56:58

We are trying to keep Chris' commute to under an hour. That way it won't be so so hard on him. We are looking in Amelia, Powhatan, and Dinwiddie Counties so I am hoping to keep us in an agricultural area. We are not interested in subdivisions at all.

I am thinking if we got 20 acres we would probably try to keep at least 1/2 wild if we can. Another 5 acres would be for grazing. The other 5 would be outbuildings and agriculture.

I know how to can most things now. I can learn just about anything I need to. Would the crawl space of a house be a good root cellar if you put down a floor covering and it was not just dirt?
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Re: Homesteading as Prepping?

Postby mamabearCali » Wed, 04 Dec 2013 14:04:11

Kreutz wrote:
dorminWS wrote:@MBC:
As far as your limited garden space goes, it reminded me of something that you may or may not have known about: Around here flat ground is at a premium and good garden space even if it is not plumb flat ain't all that easy to come by. So the custom has been (at least among the old-timers) to plant corn and beans in the same row and let the beans climb the corn. Don't know if that is common in other areas or not, but thought I'd mention it.


Three sisters planting.

http://www.reneesgarden.com/articles/3sisters.html

I have a hill I'm hoping to terrace this early spring, I also have a shortage of sunny flat ground.


I tried this two years ago.....didn't work....but then we had a nasty hot summer then too and only a sprinker for irrigation. Perhaps I will try it again this year with an irrigation system
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Re: Homesteading as Prepping?

Postby SHMIV » Wed, 04 Dec 2013 14:14:12

Good question about the pigs. I don't know the answer, though.

Gene brought up the need for a milking stand for milking the goats. Those are easy to build; and the plans should be easy to find. Choose a plan than has a food tray, so the goat will be occupied as you milk her. Goat milking is pretty easy. I was getting the goat in the stand in milking her when I was 5. So, that's a chore that you can pass on to the chilluns, before too long.

Kids can be sent off to collect chicken eggs, too. I still have my old egg basket at my parents house. (And it magically fills with candy every spring, too, right around Easter)

Be prepared for mind-boggling statements from your city kin. My Mom offered some fresh eggs to her sister, once. My aunt turned them down, saying that she didn't trust those eggs. Momma asserted that they were fresher than the store eggs, as they had been laid that morning. My aunt did not care. She was afraid of cracking an egg to find a half done chick inside. Mom told her that there was no need to worry about that, as we had no rooster. My aunt stared for a moment, then replied "So? What difference does that make?".

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Re: Homesteading as Prepping?

Postby GeneFrenkle » Wed, 04 Dec 2013 14:21:11

Depending upon the pig breed, they can be pretty sizable and dangerous at 9 months. Our Hampshires loved me (hated my Wife). When one escaped into our field to "play" with the goats, she'd chase after my Wife. Getting her back in the pen was a challenge - 800 lb guilt tends to do whatever they want. She wanted to play. A pig can bite off a finger or toe with no issues. Having said that, I spent a lot of time working with and around my pigs so they knew me and knew when I came around there'd be food. There was no association of that with my Wife. That positive reinforcement gave me a great latitude with the pigs, to the point where I could climb into the pen and work on it. My challenge was trying to keep the pigs out of what I was working on (they're very curious about what you're doing).

There are also smaller pig breeds that can graze and stay pretty small so managing them is a little simpler. I don't have any experience with those breeds, however. As with any kind of animal, breed selection can be significant and impact how you care for them and how they support your farm.

A couple of other things that just popped into my head:

- You'll probably spend a fair amount of time repairing fences. Goats are climbers and will eat whatever leaves they can reach. They can graze, but that's not how they were built.
- If you have neighbors that are fairly close, give them some of your eggs and whatnot to keep good tidings. They'll be a little more forgiving if your goats or sheep get into their yard through a small hole in your fence.
- You might want to look into being a farm for income tax purposes. It takes effort, but you might find it worthwhile in pursuing.
- There are laws that regulate what can be sold from your farm (e.g. eggs on premises, meat must go through some USDA facility, etc.). Expect a whole host of things in dealing with dairy.
- There is a ton of chores and repairs on the to-do list, a list that is never completed. A front-loader on the tractor is a _real_ help.

Please heavily consider the following and talk it over with your Spouse -
- There is a lot of life on a farm. This means there can be a lot of death on it, too. Some people can't handle the sad aspect of it (and yes, it does get very depressing sometimes). Be prepared to being able to explain why the kids (baby goats, for clarification) died after working hours to save them to the children when the children have already named the kids. Bad things happen, too, like coyote getting sheep/goats or foxes/possum in hen houses.
- Butchering animals is part of living - some folks will have issues and try to protect their children from the realities of where their food comes from. Talk about it with your spouse and agree about when and how the children should be exposed to such things. Children need to be prepared for it as it is a very important aspect of farm life and provides a basis for understanding and appreciating where our food comes from.

Honestly, overall - moving out "here" was probably the best decision.
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Re: Homesteading as Prepping?

Postby mamabearCali » Wed, 04 Dec 2013 14:22:29

Ok...now I have been a suburban girl for 20 years now....but even I know you need a rooster to get a chick! :hysterical:

I am counting on my four little beloveds to do some of the minor chores like feeding the rabbits, chickens, and egg gathering. My bigger one (who will be 9ish) when we move can help me with some of the bigger chores. It can all be a part of their education! Who needs sex ed when you have rabbits!

My mom and dad won't bat an eye. It was her dad's ranch we lived on when I was little. All the grandparents on my side of the family were farmers, so it is really in my blood. My husbands side of the family will be funny. But we are the black sheep of that family anyway. They live in NY, and love it. We hate just about everything about NY. They already think we are nuts (Christians, homeschool, NRA members, etc etc etc).

This should be an adventure and we are really excited. This year we start prepping this house to get sold, and buy our land. Come next November this house goes onto the market.
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Re: Homesteading as Prepping?

Postby GeneFrenkle » Wed, 04 Dec 2013 14:24:21

> I know how to can most things now. I can learn just about anything I need to. Would the crawl space of a house be a good root cellar if you put down a floor covering and it was not just dirt?

Recommend against that. A crawl space will not afford the room to keep canned things nor the space to be able to move effectively. Also consider spiders (recluse), snakes, and whatnot. It may also interfere with pipe repair if you spring a leak.

>>Ok...now I have been a suburban girl for 20 years now....but even I know you need a rooster to get a chick! :hysterical:
I am counting on my four little beloveds to do some of the minor chores like feeding the rabbits, chickens, and egg gathering.

I'm not suggesting otherwise, but (breed dependent as well as individual rooster dependent) a rooster's job is to protect and fertilize hens (the hens then fertilize the eggs). You do not need a rooster to get eggs and full grown rooster can take down a good sized dog if really inclined. One of our roosters would wait for me to get under the roosts then attack. Laying on your stomach getting eggs is not an optimal location for an angry rooster to come after you. If you do get roosters, I'd recommend either learn how to remove the spurs or cull the mean ones quickly. I haven't met a person that has successfully turned a mean rooster into a docile one.

Rams are in a similar vein - either they can be somewhat easy going (with some meanness during breeding) or just plain mean (getting worse during breeding).
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Re: Homesteading as Prepping?

Postby SHMIV » Wed, 04 Dec 2013 14:36:19

I think that the farming idea is a good one. It's what God designed the body to do, to begin with. So, I believe that you and your family will experience some health benefits. It's also a great lifestyle for promoting solid work ethic in the little people. Don't let the challenges that come with it deter you.

One last thing in regards to goats; don't sell the milk. My parents used to get folks knocking on the door, wanting to buy some goat milk for some reason or another. Usually, for an ailing relative. Turns out, they were traps set by the dairy unions, or some such thing. They'd take anyone to court, who they conned into selling a quart of goat milk. This was 30 years ago, of course, but be careful, anyway.

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Re: Homesteading as Prepping?

Postby Palladin » Wed, 04 Dec 2013 14:37:41

GeneFrenkle wrote:> I haven't met a person that has successfully turned a mean rooster into a docile one.



Let me help you with that... Put his arse in the chicken spa (crockpot) for about 8 -9 hrs... he'll be the sweetest most tender thing you ever did see! :clap:
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Re: Homesteading as Prepping?

Postby mamabearCali » Wed, 04 Dec 2013 14:42:29

The dairy is for me and mine. Not selling it. Too many laws about that! I like goat cheese. I like milk. I am not lactose intolerant so I plan to drink milk and eat cheese until the day I die.

I might sell the wool or some of the live animals, but if you want to kill it. You gotta do it yourself or hire someone else to do it. Too many regulations.

I am not sure what one has to do to become a farm for tax purposes.

Mostly I want to go for a certain amount of subsistence. I was not really looking to sell many products.

But then again maybe someone here has some info I am not aware of.
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Re: Homesteading as Prepping?

Postby mamabearCali » Wed, 04 Dec 2013 14:43:36

GeneFrenkle wrote:> I know how to can most things now. I can learn just about anything I need to. Would the crawl space of a house be a good root cellar if you put down a floor covering and it was not just dirt?

Recommend against that. A crawl space will not afford the room to keep canned things nor the space to be able to move effectively. Also consider spiders (recluse), snakes, and whatnot. It may also interfere with pipe repair if you spring a leak.

>>Ok...now I have been a suburban girl for 20 years now....but even I know you need a rooster to get a chick! :hysterical:
I am counting on my four little beloveds to do some of the minor chores like feeding the rabbits, chickens, and egg gathering.

I'm not suggesting otherwise, but (breed dependent as well as individual rooster dependent) a rooster's job is to protect and fertilize hens (the hens then fertilize the eggs). You do not need a rooster to get eggs and full grown rooster can take down a good sized dog if really inclined. One of our roosters would wait for me to get under the roosts then attack. Laying on your stomach getting eggs is not an optimal location for an angry rooster to come after you. If you do get roosters, I'd recommend either learn how to remove the spurs or cull the mean ones quickly. I haven't met a person that has successfully turned a mean rooster into a docile one.

Rams are in a similar vein - either they can be somewhat easy going (with some meanness during breeding) or just plain mean (getting worse during breeding).



I have a rule that I will bring forward from my time on the ranch.....Anything mean or ornery gets eaten. End of story.
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Re: Homesteading as Prepping?

Postby GeneFrenkle » Wed, 04 Dec 2013 14:44:27

>SHMIV: Be prepared for mind-boggling statements from your city kin

THIS! Even co-workers. I find that the immigrants that I work with (some from Honduras, China, India, etc.) have a better appreciation and understanding than the majority of my co-workers. They understand that if you collect eggs, they can stay fresh for a month if left on the counter (as long as they're not washed, the bloom will stay) but other folks don't realize it. Egg yolk should be orange-ish, not yellow. If you raise your own pork, you'll see how really different yours tastes than store bought. Same for steak.
And if Bruce Dickinson wants more cowbell, we should probably give him more cowbell!


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Re: Homesteading as Prepping?

Postby Palladin » Wed, 04 Dec 2013 14:49:56

Amen, Gene.
Now is the time for all good men to get off their rusty dustys...


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Re: Homesteading as Prepping?

Postby GeneFrenkle » Wed, 04 Dec 2013 14:53:47

SHMIV wrote:I think that the farming idea is a good one. It's what God designed the body to do, to begin with. So, I believe that you and your family will experience some health benefits. It's also a great lifestyle for promoting solid work ethic in the little people. Don't let the challenges that come with it deter you.

One last thing in regards to goats; don't sell the milk. My parents used to get folks knocking on the door, wanting to buy some goat milk for some reason or another. Usually, for an ailing relative. Turns out, they were traps set by the dairy unions, or some such thing. They'd take anyone to court, who they conned into selling a quart of goat milk. This was 30 years ago, of course, but be careful, anyway.

[ Post made via Mobile Device ] Image


From one of my posts above:

- There are laws that regulate what can be sold from your farm (e.g. eggs on premises, meat must go through some USDA facility, etc.). Expect a whole host of things in dealing with dairy.

SHM is absolutely correct. There are only some things you can sell _from_your_farm, and others that have a whole host of laws about. Dairy is really painful as is meat. Eggs are straightforward, but it must be done on the farm (no handing over eggs at the office... has to be at the farm for the exchange). IMO, all these laws are really effective in squeezing out the home/small farmer in favor of the corporate farms. USDA can be pretty heavy handed (leaving the search to you).
And if Bruce Dickinson wants more cowbell, we should probably give him more cowbell!


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