Category Archives: News Letter

News Letter: Volume 2, Issue 1

KA-BOOOOM!!

As expected, this season started like a cannon-shot! Truth is, a big blast like that could go a couple different ways. One way can be pretty chaotic; scattered shots whizzing and flying in every direction, making a mess of anything out front. The other way can be a bit more calculated; a single shot, a single target. With the right preparation, a clean, direct hit is easier to realize. Our season resembles the latter…thankfully.

All of the work we put into the end of last season, and the diligent preparation for this season has paid off, for us and for you, and we are excited to tell you all about it!

Here is a tasting menu of some of the delectable delights to devour in the paragraphs below:

  • How we have grown, and will continue to grow
  • Heidi Tunnell Catering Company Barn Dinner
  • Bite Of Eugene
  • The moving on of a good friend
  • The addition of a new member to the team
  • Where you can find Our Family Farm chicken this year
  • Preordering Turkeys

The Start To A New Season

When we get to whitness our wonderful Willamette Valley liberated from the bastardization of monocultures (like grass seed) and chemical abuse (my friend Chris calls them Killicides), we get to witness the true beauty of what it is to live in this part of the world as our fertile land naturally gives life in diversified abundance. Then, when we can partner with what nature already begs to do, we believe we walk in the stewardship bestowed to us; we embrace the great responsibility of giving to our children a world that is better than a world we have experienced.

It is hard work, but it is rewarding beyond description. With this said, without people like you, we would not be able to do what we do. Don’t get me wrong, we love to eat chicken…but 800 chickens a month is more than our family can eat. So thank you for eating our chickens!

Last year we started with one 10’X12’X2.5′ Pastured Poultry Pen and we ended 2010 with six (built similarly to Virginia chicken-farming guru, Joel Salatin’s pens). This season we are quickly headed toward a 12 pen operation and are butchering birds every two weeks (an increase from once a month last year). This is a pretty simple translation- more chickens for us all to share and eat. But the coolest thing for us is to watch the pasture being transformed, healed and greenified.

The dark green on the right is where our chickens have been.

Last year we had five acres, this year we have 11. Last year we used a wooded sled to move pens along the ground. This year we have two metal dollies to easily prop and move pens. Last year we used an old tool shed as a brooder. This year we have five mobile brooding houses. Last year we butchered at a great ODA approved facility in Corvallis. This year we are constructing a Mobile Processing Unit, the first of its kind in Oregon.

Our mission to heal the land, raise some of the best meat in The Valley, and contribute to the experience of thoughtful eater is becoming a reality, blade by blade.

Out On The Town

In addition to 6AM chores when we get to watch morning’s sun crest the sleepy, eastern Coburg Hills; in addition to the grueling but deeply rewarding Tuesday butcher days with a wonderful group of fun and dedicated people from all around the south Willamette Valley; in addition to tucking all the chicks into bed every evening as the expiring sun ignites the pasture with final rays of explosive gold, we occasionally get to put on clean clothes and hit the town. Two of our more  fortunate adventures of the summer were when we were featured farm at one of the Heidi Tunnell Catering Company’s beautiful Barn Dinners. The other was an invitation from Eugene Magazine’s The Bite of Eugene to host an informative booth at their annual event to benefit the Willamette Valley Food And Farm Coalition. We were even lucky enough to have Our Family Farm chickens, livers, and feet featured in The Bite’s Iron Chef competition.

It was a perfect evening at the Heidi Tunnell Catering Company’s Summer barn dinner. A classic summer night full of live music, friends laughing, and everything chicken. The entire spread that Heidi and the crew concocted was made in-house; from the chicken sausage wraps to the chicken liver pate to the crouton for the salad (made from our chicken skins). The whole gastronomical entourage was happily washed down with the lovely wines from Boedecker Cellars from Portland.

If you are interested in enjoying one of the two remaining Barn Dinners you may want to know a few things. One- Heidi was the winner of the Iron Chef Eugene competition this year, wowing judges with her palatable blitzkrieg. Translation…if you get yourself to a Barn Dinner, every nerve and taste bud in your mouth will thank you. Two- a single word, Paelle. Three- Former Eugene livestock superstar, Aaron Silverman will be bringing one of Tails and Trotters super-swines into town for a pig roast. Get there. Eat. Feel good. Perhaps we will even see you there, share a table, and a story or two.

Bigger And Better Things

This is the sad part of our news letter. Actually, bittersweet is more accurate. Our dear friend Kyle Whitham whom we were fortunate enough to partner with in the daily operations of our farm has accepted and started a new adventure with a great farm further up The Valley. Kyle is now a key player of Afton Field Farm in Corvallis. His attention to detail, respect for order, charming character, and good humor will be great additions to the Afton team. It is a ridiculously sweet opportunity and if he hadn’t taken it we would have disowned him. It is the perfect step in his agrieducation and we are excited for him. However, he will be missed in more ways than one. We wish him great success!

A New Addition To The Team

Addison Hadley arrived March 24th in the early hours of the morning at the Peacehealth Midwifery Center in Springfield. Amanda made the choice to have our daughter as natural as possible which allowed for her to feel and appreciate every contraction… for 48 hours. Her attitude through it all is the kind of thing that still gives me chills. She would say, “I have to go through this to get Addison” and somewhere in that perspective she found the courage and will to allow our daughter the most natural entrance into this world as possible. Amanda gave into the whole process and owned every minute of it like a champion! Addison has been sleeping through the night since three weeks (all the sleepless new moms in the house give a collective groan) and she is a great eater (her two most important jobs). She is 95% in every growth category except one. She is 100 percentile in cherubic cuteness.

Now Go Eat Our Chicken

We feel honored to be partnering with so many great restaurants, markets, and buying clubs around the Eugene/Springfield area this year, as well as the PDX market. Here is a list of wonderful places you can find our chicken on the menu, or in the cold case. Now go eat.

Returning Starters

In Their Rookie Season (with OFF)

Time To Get Serious

It is time to start thinking seriously about that bird you want to have on the table as the family gathers this holiday season. Seriously.

We are excited to be raising turkeys this year for you and your family. We have chosen to raise the Broad Breasted Whites, and they are raised on pasture like the rest of our poultry. They will be big, juicy, and make you feel all warm inside. The only down side is that we only have 100 birds for sale, well, actually there are already 11 sold so there are 89 left. We have just made the turkeys available to our buying clubs so let this be fair warning… PREORDER your holiday turkey as soon as you can. OK, enough of the serious farmer…shoot.

To quickly, but sincerely wrap this up, thank you everyone for sharing in this journey with us as we work to heal the land, raise some of the best food in Oregon, and contribute to a growing community of people (like you) making thoughtful, sustainable food choices. We hope your summer finishes strong with lots of laughs, great food, and plenty of hugs from the people you love.

Now, we’re headed back out to pasture to wrangle chickens and turkeys.

 

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News Letter: Volume 1, Issue 3

Tucking It All In

Pre dawn on the farmIt was a morning blanketed in pre dawn darkness;  a mid-October sky peppered by night’s fading constellations. Amanda and I, with our partner, Kyle, and friend, Hans wrangled the last of our chickens into crates for an easy transport to Afton Field Farm in Corvallis where they would be butchered later that morning…business as usual for our first summer raising pastured poultry in Oregon’s agriculturally rich Willamette Valley.

Our Family Farm’s growing season was coming to a sweet end, and many of you were excited enough to come alongside us for our first year in this agri-adventure, and we consider ourselves fortunate to have shared in it with you.

This final news letter of 2010 will attempt to capture some of our highlights, talk about some of the things we  learned, and unpack what you can look forward to in the coming months, and especially what you can look forward to next year.

‘The Experiment”

4 months

6 pens

8 tons of feed

8 restaurants

153 new friends

880 chickens

"The Experiment"

Colonal Sanders Discovers "The Original Recipe"

It’s been one heck of an adventure! What started as ‘The Experiment” has quickly gained momentum (due to a lot of support and enthusiasm from you), and is turning out to be the catapult positioned to shoot us into next year. After reading the books, watching the movies, and talking to wonderful people in the Ag industry doing awesome things, the spring of 2010 proved time for us to do something…but there was still some hesitancy to do anything. The final push out of the proverbial nest came from 8 simple words.

Joel Salatin, a farmer by all intents and purposes, raises animals (cows, chickens, pigs, turkeys, rabbits) for meat. But Joel calls himself a “grass farmer”. He deeply believes the ultimate health and care for his pastures will lead to the overall health of his animals, the overall health of his customers, and bringing it full-circle,  the optimal health for his patch of the planet. While Joel was attending a field day of one of his former interns, he shared those 8 simple words to an attentive audience that would be the push we needed to fall into “The Experiment”.

“If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly.”


And off we went!

What You Can Expect For Next Year

Excitement! Next season will be filled with it!! Our Family Farm will have a new home for our operation, an operation we are going to grow by at least 100%. This is a huge spurt for us, but one we are committed to making because we can manage the growth. Some of the highlights we are working on this winter to make next year more successful than this year:

Home Sweet HomeNailing down the location of our new operation– This has been an inevitable reality as we operated on a temporary basis in Harrisburg with our dear friend, Kyle of Pristine Farms. We have been in negotiations at different points throughout the summer, but nothing was quite right. Currently we are having conversations with a wonderful family in Creswell. We look forward to reporting back to you all once we have a new home.

MPU

Mobile Processing Unit

Mobile Processing Unit (MPU)- This is perhaps the most exciting off-season project. Our Family Farm, as well as two other farms in the Willamette Valley are collaborating to realize Oregon’s first MPU. This project has the potential to aid many small farmers working to provide healthy and safe poultry options to Oregonians. This will only happen with the blessings of the Oregon Department of Agriculture of whom we have had several productive conversations around regulations and expectations. We are confident these conversations will end in an Oregon first. This project will need funding, too. If you are a person who is excited about what we are working on, and interested in discussing investment opportunities, please email us so we can begin this conversation with you.

Pastured Poultry Pens

Pastured Poultry Pens Stored For Winter

Building more pens– We will accumulate a small fleet of pastured poultry pens between now and the end of next season. We have found a market for pastured poultry in Lane County, and when I say ‘market’, I mean MARKET! These pens will help us meet the demand from people like you, restaurants, and grocery stores and meat markets. Cool stuff.

What We Need. Can You Help?

I Want You

I Want You On My Butcher Crew

Butcher Crew- This is a unique opportunity for anyone interested in getting an up close and personal look at where your food comes from. We are working to assemble a crew of committed persons who will be available to assist on our butcher days, next season. It is our goal to butcher every other Tuesday, from mid May through mid October. If this sounds like something you would be interesting in learning more about, whether for the whole summer, or part of it, please email us at ourfamilyfarm.info@gmail.com

Funding- We will have many projects that will need funding, from  now, up until spring when we start. If you are a person interested in discussing the details of small-scale investment opportunities, please email us at ourfamilyfarm.info@gmail.com

Freezers- With our expected growth, we will need coolers and more freezers to keep our birds. One of the things we hope to do it offer birds later into the year, and that will only happen if we can freeze them. If you, or anyone you know has a freezer in good condition that can be donated, or purchased, please let us know.

Work Quad- With the expected increase in birds, feed, and water, we will need a work quad to help us move things around. If you or anyone you know has a quad that could fit this bill, please let us know so we can discuss the option to purchase, rent, or be gifted.

Recognition

We want to take a few lines to recognize our friends who were willing and able to support us above and beyond buying our birds.

Jeff and Alysha Maib ‘pimped our chickens’ every restaurant experience they had. Jeff also designed and hand pressed our business cards on an old press from the early 1900’s. If you haven’t seen, or felt our business card, just ask us and we will give you a few for yourself, and your friends. Please connect with Jeff at jeffreymaib@hotmail.com if you want amazing business cards or invitations.

Tyler and Alecia Jones of Afton Field Farm. Tyler was generous beyond belief to share his experience as a farmer with us, as well as a few other fledgling farmers. He gave us all the learning opportunities we could handle to butcher chickens, refining that art, as well as learning the finer details of what a first class butchering facility should look like. Alecia was the perfect host, making sure we always had hot coffee and snacks to get us over the hump, and hot, farm lunches to wind the day down.

Tom and Jane Hastings, and Kristi Ephriam were extremely generous in donating freezers to our efforts. If you have ever butchered 580 chickens in one day, you know the value of having the storage capacity to keep a lot of those birds until they can be delivered a week or more later.

Hans Grasshauer, Amanda Hvass, and Eric Vegh were eager enough to volunteer during some of our butcher days this year. Each was very interested in takeing a bold step in learning where their food comes from. Thanks to each for their early mornings, carting chickens (in the dark sometimes) and bagging the birds they had already handled 2-3 times.

Nate Cortez and Luis Romero took the ‘building value’ step to a whole new level. Our Family Farm has many customers because of their deductive questions to build phone, and chicken value. If you are ever at AT&T, look these guys up. They are very good at what they do. Me gusta pollo.

Kirk Ball has a big, beastly truck he let us use, quite frequently. We really liked how farmy it looked with its multiple colors, and big bench seat. Kirk is responsible for helping us with our first shipment of feed.

Kyle Witham is a man among men! without his invitation to share the space we leased in Harrisburg, Our Family Farm would be in a very different place today. because of Kyle’s deep generosity in spirit and labor, Our Family Farm was able to realize the kind of success start-ups dream of. We could go on and on about this young man, but I will refrain and say one more thing, If you are in the market for a world-class son-in-law, email us and we will put you in contact with Harrisburg’s most eligible bachelor.

Dale and Valerie Dick were kind enough to let us stink up their tool shed, use their water, light our brooder bulbs, feed a chick or two, house a big freezer, open their home to a field day, let us use their shop to build pens, loan us a trailer to move birds up and down Peoria Highway, and move an occasional pen. Thank you Dale and Valerie.

Amanda has been amazing through it all, challenging me to refine all the parts that a great business should exhibit, that I am fighting to learn. Thank you Amanda! “Even though we ain’t got money…”

And the rest of you… you know who you are. You are our friends who were willing and able to share the good news with family and friends. You were the people who were willing to let us put our business cards in your businesses. You were, and are Our Family Farm raving fans, and WE APPRECIATE YOU!

Thank you all, a hundred times over, thank you.

 
 

 

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News Letter: Volume 1, Issue 2

Chicks Have Landed!

That’s right. We have birds! Our first batch of chickens, ever. Needless to say we are excited. The arrival has been met with a long and intense thread of conversations, critical analysis of financial statements, and as always, learning. It is fair to say that we are now farmers; experienced builders of brooding hoods, invested in the research and development of pasture pens, and expert chick wranglers. With the kids’ help, wrangling is much less comedic…why does Mickey yelling, “Get the chicken, Rock!” come to mind?

Our friend, Kyle Witham is in the trenches with us to have pastured broilers ready in time for Fourth of July BBQs. We are operating 2 pens, designed in the Joel Salatin Model, holding 80-90 birds each. It is a model with over 30 years of tempered experience in its form and function. The 10’X12’X2′ design is perfect to offer approximately 80 birds enough fresh grass (when moved a full length, daily), space to get plenty of exercise, and security from lurking predators. This article unpacks how Grass-Fed and Pastured Poultry get to eat all the green plant food they desire, as well as myriad bugs and other living things. Tests show great health benefits to the consumer, not to mention superlative taste and tenderness of the meat. Birds live in a way that makes them happy, and taste in a way that makes us happy.

In addition to broilers, we are raising 50 laying hens this year; a combination of Rhode Island Red and Barred Rock. Each breed lays big, brown eggs with delicious, bright yolks. It typically takes several months for a layer to mature to production. It is our expectation that by the time they are mature enough to lay, the colder weather will be setting in which will temproarily reduce production. So for those of you who are interested in farm-fresh eggs, next spring is the projected time for us to start stocking your refrigerators with nature’s perfect food. We will keep you posted.

In the mean time, if you and your family are interested in receiving any of our pastured broilers, please let us know so we can plan to get birds into your hands when we butcher at the end of June. We will be giving away birds from our first batch in exchange for your feedback; of course if you care to drop us a few buck to cover costs we won’t turn it down. We will be eager to hear your reviews on pastured poultry, and how we can make this experience something your family wants to repeat.

Please email us at OurFamilyFarm.info@gmail.com with your request for birds. You can keep an eye on our process by following us on twitter @RFamilyFarm.

Beef Is Still On The Menu

Amanda's Suculent Chuck Roast

In general, the response from people wanting local, grass-raised beef is a bit overwhelming. Recognizing the benefits of eating animals raised naturally, with grass as a substantial part of their diet, is getting easier to do. Responding to the truths being uncovered is another story. It is amazing how quickly our beef is making its way to your families! Thank you for jumping on board, taking control of healthy eating for you and your family, and supporting local providers of naturally raised food. For some interesting reading, check out this article written by Nicolette Hahn Niman titled Defending Grass-Fed Beef: A Rancher Weighs in.

With this said, our friend whom we are working with to provide the best beef in the Willamette Valley has two Angus Steers ready to butcher. Buying a beeve, or half a beeve is the most economical way to purchase your beef. Our recommendation is to get one for your family, or connect with another family to purchase one half, each. If this interests you, simply email us with your request, or any questions about purchasing this way at OurFamilyFarm.info@gmail.com.

Additionally, there are still a few pounds of ground, grass-fed Angus available at $2 a pound, and many more roasts at $3 a pound. Our friends, Nels and Amanda recently cooked up a roast and sent me a picture of the finished product. Nels said, “We seared it in a pan first, then BBQd it at a low temperature for about an hour…it was tender and delicious.” I don’t know about you, but Amanda makes Angus roast look delicious!

Garden Fresh Produce

This is an exciting development we are eager to share with you. Over the past several weeks, Amanda and I have engaged the good people at North Eugene Faith Center in conversation. You see, next to NEFC, off of River Avenue near North Eugene High School rests a very large, humble field. This nearly 2 acre space has sat under-used for over a decade, and if you are familiar with soil in the Eugene area you know that the soil up River Road is good stuff. The conversation with Pastor Mike Lawrence started like this, “Why don’t we start a community garden?” He entertained that first question with a big, Mike Lawrence smile and has been an avid fan of the idea ever since. Amanda and I are working, along with Mike, and Joel Skinner of another church named New Day, to spread the vision of transforming this field into a cornucopia, burgeoning with fresh produce for people and families in need in the North Eugene community.

This is a project that is in its infancy, and the perfect time for anyone who is interested in growing and giving, to get involved. We will be hosting a general meeting at North Eugene Faith Center on May 13th at 7PM to discuss the next steps in establishing a community garden space. If you are interested in playing with us, or just observing, please join us at the meeting. We would love your presence. RSVP by emailing us at OurFamilyFarm.infor@gmail.com

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News Letter: Volume 1, Issue 1

WELCOME!

Photo by: Daniel Soule

It is with growing excitement that we welcome you to share in this agricultural adventure with us. It is hard to identify the exact moment we decided to walk forward with serious steps to pursue the production of the best naturally raised food in the Willamette Valley. It is assured however that each step thus far has confirmed within us the need and importance of healthy, affordable food for our children, our community and ourselves.

We have three purposes:

  • To heal the land
  • To produce the best food in the Willamette Valley
  • To build community

One can easily find research and proof that the agricultural practices in America over the past several decades have done quite a number on our landscape, and consequently the food we eat. Chemical fertilizers, GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), and the choices we make around food consumption all have dramatic consequences on our health. The “Father of Composting”, Sir Albert Howard wrote in AN AGRICULTURAL TESTAMENT: “Artificial manures lead inevitably to artificial nutrition, artificial foods, artificial animals, and finally to artificial men and women.”

With heightened awareness through books like Michael Pollan’s OMNIVORE’S DILEMA, and documentary films like FOOD INC. there is a growing tide of interest to eat fresh, eat local, and eat unprocessed. Our aim is to facilitate the means for people to come together, eat healthy, and live better.

Over the next several months we are committed to several things.

  1. Growing our learning through more reading, attending conferences, and enrolling in the AGRICULTURAL BUSINESS MANAGEMENT program through LCC’s Business Development Center
  2. Volunteering at a few local farms to “get our hands dirty”
  3. Continuing to build a market base for the best food products in the Willamette Valley
  4. Beginning our first batches of meat products for your enjoyment

We look forward to the coming months as we learn, grow, and eat well, together!

Pastured Broiler Chickens

Photo by: Taylor Schefstrom

Chicken has recently surpassed beef as the desired meat to eat in America. For this reason, and a few more we have read about, it seems logical we make pastured poultry the foundation for our endeavors.

We will be working with a new friend named Kyle Whitham, in Harrisburg to raise 80-90 broiler chickens (Cornish X) in the coming months. These birds are what you are used to seeing in grocery stores. They take approximately 8 weeks to mature. When raised on fresh pasture, daily, they offer delicious flavors and highly desirable nutrition. We are eager to hear your feedback once you have eaten them.

The most common response to our email several weeks ago was, “Will we have to pluck feather?” It would seems somewhat “Middle Ages” to ask you to process your own chickens so the answer is, you will not need to pluck feathers. We will process the birds for you, so all you have to do is cook and eat. Your broiler will look exactly like the whole chickens you see in the store, but will be much better tasting and better for you, of course.

We are eager to get our broilers in your hands so we have offered to give the first batch away with the humble request that you offer us your feedback, and if you like what you eat, consider making our chickens the stuff you fill your freezer with in the future. If you want to share the good news with friends and family, that would be great, too!

The aim is to have the first batch of broilers ready for pick up in late June, and ready for your summer BBQs. Please let us know how many birds you would like. First come, first served. If all goes well we will do another batch of birds the later half of this summer.

Pricing has yet to be established, but we expect it to be very competitive with the better quality meat you might see in the grocery store. We are very happy to be headed this direction, and we look forward to eating well with you.

Salad Bar Beef

We are working closely with a farmer from Harrisburg named Richard Morton to learn about raising and producing grass-fed Angus beef. Through our partnership we are beginning to research and implement Management Intensive Grazing (MIG) techniques. MIG is the smart control of grass growth and health through coordinated grazing time on defined grazing areas (now we get back to healing the land, and producing the best food in the valley). This is a great opportunity to learn a lot about one of the next food products we hope to offer, and we can tell you that this beef is delicious!

The natural design of cows, among other things, is to eat grass. It is proven that grass-fed beef is better for you. Grass-fed beef is leaner and has a higher content of omega-3 fatty acids. And this is just the beginning of the value of beef naturally raised on grass, when compared to the feedlot beef we are used to seeing in the grocery store.

Through this partnership we are able to offer grass-fed Angus beef, right now. You may purchase amazing Angus ground meat. As the summer progresses there will be other options for beef products. See descriptions below, and send us an email requesting what you need for your family.

Future Grass-Fed, Angus Beef Options:

  • Beef on the hoof: Purchase a whole cow or half a cow and have it cut yourself (we can recommend a butcher). This is the easiest and most cost effective way to buy your beef. Please request pricing if you are interested in this option.
  • Steaks: Our mobile butcher can cut a variety of steaks. We have two steers almost ready for butcher so if you have special requests for steak cuts, please let us know as soon as possible so we can accommodate your needs.
  • Ground beef (Ready now): We are offering an inaugural special on ground beef at $2 a pound. We currently have 30-40, 2# packages of ground Angus. This is lean, delicious stuff, great for pasta sauce, burritos, stroganoff, meat loaf, or good old-fashioned burgers.

Please email us with your needs at OurFamilyFarm.info@gmail.com.

Bees

Photo by: Taylor Schefstrom

Bees are a critical piece of the puzzle to the food we eat. Not only do they produce delicious and healthy things for our bodies like honey, bee pollen, and royal jelly, but also they make it possible for the growth of many of the foods we eat. We first met other like-minded bee folk at the Lane County Bee Keepers gathering last summer when our friend Hank Anderson invited us to come along and hear the buzz about this amazing insect. With Hank’s help we will be refurbishing a hive or two this year as a part of our three fold vision of healing the land, producing the best food in the Willamette Valley, and building community. If we are lucky, there might be some honey for your pantry this fall. We will keep you posted. And of course, as it becomes available, we will offer you plenty of recipes to incorporate this liquid gold into your cooking and baking.

Looking Ahead

Eggs are on the way! We have learned that it can take 4-5 months for a laying hen to start producing eggs. Once they begin, they will produce approximately 300 eggs a year. You will never see, or taste a better tasting egg from a hen that has been raised naturally on pasture. These eggs are superior, and they will be affordable, too.

If our 7 year old, Jackson has his way, pigs will be on the line up for next year too. He is eager to get a pig and add to what we are doing. We will keep you updated on the availability of bacon, sausage, and other delicious cuts.

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