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Horses and permaculture  RSS feed

 
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Wow Lisa, you handled the studs! Yes, that is commendable too!
I agree with you Mick, basically. I had two horses and they were not exactly sustainable. Indians kept horses, but always had to keep on the move to find green pastures for the horses. The problem is keeping a horse fed.
I just don't think I could raise enough food for horses myself. My grandma used to keep corn fodder, beans and corn for the work horses to eat. however, she also had 135 acres for them to graze in, and I don't have near that.
Greta
p.s. I was out of town 3 days, Lisa. I was in Lexington, Ky., actually. My sister has a house there near the horse park, and she has 3 horses. She can't feed hers herself either. She has a big barn too, but not much acreage.
 
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My brother calls his 2 acres,( some of it rock) a farm. If anyone asks what type of farm, I tell them it's a poop farm. Two horses stand ankle deep in shit that is made from hay and grains imported from Alberta.

No other product is produced on this "farm".
 
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I am well acquainted with small rocky acreages, I had two acres south of the golf course on Prospect Lake road and I'll tell you Dale, manure would be very useful building the soil in that area : )
Thanks for your kind words Greta, you have no idea how lucky I am with horses and lousy I am with men : )
 
Dale Hodgins
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Lisa Paulson wrote:I am well acquainted with small rocky acreages, I had two acres south of the golf course on Prospect Lake road and I'll tell you Dale, manure would be very useful building the soil in that area : )
Thanks for your kind words Greta, you have no idea how lucky I am with horses and lousy I am with men : )



I'm sure you're doing what you can to reduce the impact and expense of having horses.

My brother justifies his imported feed and weed seeds based on soil building. We're both involved in businesses that allow large quantities of soil to be grabbed at any time. Then there's all the free wood chips, chicken manure and horse manure that I can find 10 ads for on any given day. It's an expensive and wasteful hobby for him. He lives an hour from work because of these animals, so they are at least partially the reason that a big truck spends 12 hours a week on the highway. There are many trips dedicated to just the horses. Vet bills, horse psychiatrist, and horse dentists have set him back a bit. He is not a wealthy person. The bank owns 85% of his land. These costs have a major impact on the quality of his life.

Much of the gentrified farmland on the Saanich Peninsula produces only horse poop. Many of these horses take very long boat and road trips to venues all over North America behind big fancy trucks. They live in homes that would be the envy of many people. This is some of Canada's most productive and expensive farmland with 5-10 acre parcels fetching over $150,000 per acre. On the Island boasting Canads's mildest climate, the majority of fruit and vegetables are imported. The desire to own and accommodate horses has contributed to an inflationary trend that keeps the majority of would be farmers in this area from ever owning land. They can't compete with the horse culture.
 
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I ride weekly, and love it, but I have doubts about keeping horses on my five acres (Don't tell my daughter!). I work fulltime from home, so to me it looks like this:

Once we get setup, fenced, etc, We have a six stall barn, but lack fences.

I figure I can do chickens on about 30 mins a day plus seven days each year (2 days for coop cleanout, two days for repair, one day to butcher). I can have four to eight sheep on 30 mins a day plus twenty days each year for worm/hoof care, shearing, breeding, lambing and butchering. A pair of alpacas might be 5 mins to feed, plus four days for shearing, worming and hoof trims. The greenhouse gets 30 mins a day plus seven extra days for planting, and fourteen for harvest. The orchard/perennial garden likely seven days a year, and the annual field fourteen days.

But the horses! I would likely have 3 or 4. Let's say feeding is ten minute set up, then do something else, then ten minutes grooming each horse. Maybe 45 mins for the groom and feed, and then 15 for the evening quick feed, so an hour daily. Then each horse needs (guessing, varies with individual) eight hours a week of work/training(say 52 days a year). Riding, draft work, remembering how to get into the trailer, or whatever training is needed. Then manure handling is likely another four hours a week, so 26 days a year, making 78 days of routine horse care.

So the difference in planned invested time is HUGE.

If something goes wrong with the chickens or sheep, we cull. If something goes wrong with the horses, we either have a vet visit $$, unless we have a trailer and truck$$. Culling and burying is not an option here.
I don't need to own horses to get horse manure; there is plenty in my county.

The dogs take time, too, but the companionship is worth it.

So I guess the differentiator for me is whether the training time is otherwise profitable.

But then again, my purpose in life is not to eliminate chores so I can watch TV. I like training animals; I smile when a 1,000 pound animal moves over because I asked, and he likes/respects me. I like having animal friends. It's good to have a little responsibility to get me out of the door. And there have got to be better ways to get horses and dogs to supplement my wimpy muscles.

So while I am pretending this is a logical consideration, my kid would disown me if I don't get horses. I'm afraid to tell her I want to mod two stalls for sheep, and the office for a hatchery. So let's just say that the extra purpose for the horse training time is to bond with the kid, and then it's all good!

 
Greta Fields
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Lyvia,
You sure sound efficient to me!
I love horses too, and my sister and niece rides. I daydream about riding a horse across the prairie, like the Indian in the movie Dreamkeeper [He rides his horse across the U.S. to get to a modern day pow wow.]
However, now I have a conflicting dream, which is to live on the earth without over-grazing it with horses, cows and sheep. I don't WANT your manure anymore either, because it is full of pesticides used to grow those pure bales of Alfalfa and Timothy -- hay devoid of mineral-rich weeds that causes horses to get sick hooves.
It is a real problem, how to end over grazing. I read Jared Diamond's famous book, Collapse, which shows gorgeous stables deserted by ancient civilizations, grand societies like ours which perished ultimately due to overgrazing and deforestation. The photos show grand stables, empty, on desertified land. This is what is happening slowly in America, the gradual desertification of land, especially out west.
I never had any luck with Men OR studs, Leila, haha.
Greta
 
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Location: Augusta,Ks
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Well, i am by no means a "permacuturist", but i believe everything in a natural setting must pull it's weight. If a person has room for a horse, or horses, or an ass, to roam with good grass and an affordable source of feed, AND a way to genetate income directly fron said horse, then yep they are justified.

 
pollinator
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The keeping of one horse on my farm is part of my farm scheme. The horse helps keep the grass under control while at the same time generating good quality manure. The manure is a valuable product. The grass control a helpful asset. I have occasionally used her to pull a downed tree branch or small logs. Being a retired cow horse, she understands pulling off of a rope dallied around the saddle horn. No problem.

While my horse doesn't earn me cash, she surely saves me money. Her upkeep costs me little per year, so I consider her an asset. She's grass fed. Her supplements are homegrown. We trim her feet ourselves. So basically the expenses consist of dewormer, fly control, new halter and rope each year. Her other equipment has lasted 10 years so far and has been properly cared for. It should last many more years.

Thus my vote ..... Yes, there can be a place for horses in permaculture.

...Su Ba
www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
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Sometimes, I think, the wants of horse owners get confused with the needs of horses. I won't get into the need for people to house their horses in megalithic stables; whether or not I agree, it is a personal choice. I have 3 horses pastured on 7-8 acres in Michigan (zone 5). Depending on the snow-load, I may not have to feed hay at all and I have no fancy barn for my horses. In fact, I have no barn at all (only 3 sided shelters and tree screens). In the past 24 months I've had to feed my horses a total of 54 bales of hay and 20 pounds of supplemental feed. In exchange, each horse provides me with 10 tons of manure that is collected and/or spread in the fields, keep my native grass pasture systems in optimal health, carry me to wild-craft/forage and provide companionship. That is a lot of benefit and little impact.

No matter how we choose to raise them, there are a few solid facts about horse manure management that horse people should come to possess: a 1000 pound horse produces 1 cubic yard of manure each month and stalled horses (on average) produce an additional 2 cubic yards per month of stall waste (shavings, straw, paper, whatever). That equates to roughly 10 tons of manure and around 38 tons of stall waste for each horse. Having a management plan for that waste-stream is imperative (especially on smaller acerage). However, that is no different than having a plan for the waste stream of any livestock. My cows have an equal impact. In the management of both species with some creative thought and planning you can turn waste into gold.

Joy to all!
 
Lyvia Dequincey
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I was totally amazed at how seriously that waste stream from horses is taken by my county. On request, the soil and water conservation people sent a guy (for free!!) who did soil samples, gave me fertilizer recommendations, and with my estimate of four horses and a dozen chickens and maybe four sheep, he says with the horses confined to barn or dry lot 50% of the time, and using his manure spreading guidelines, we would need a twelve foot by four foot compost mega-bin. He gave me plans to build the drylot and the compost bin. Such a lot of wonderful information, and it will help to keep the waste out of the nearby stream.

On the down side, they have a bias against clearing trees, so enlarging the pasture was left out of his plan. He wants us to import hay. We shall see how things develop. If we clear the dead and dying trees, and the small ones, and the invasive ones, and the poisonous ones, it might be open enough for pasture. We have lots of maple and oaks to harvest, and his literature says oaks are poisonous, and red maples, and I know norway maples are invasive. There are some tulip poplars and beech, but the beech are mostly saplings.

Hmm, I should hie off to the forestry pages ...
 
Greta Fields
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I am afraid to buy hay or straw, which is usually perfect looking because it was grown with aid of pesticides. I have seen several letters and an article in Mother Earth News warning people that they can get pesticides in their compost from using commercial hay and straw.
All my bees died last year, and I had a million or so on flower filled pasture. Now there are NO honey bees. NONE!!! The only thing differently I did last year was 1) I carried in a truckload of horse manure from my sister's horses in he city. 2) I grew corn treated with the nicotinoids -- it looked pink. I love horse manure, but I am afraid to get horses unless I can bale my own hay and forage.
One thing you have to address in horses in permaculture is pasture restoration. Can you keep your pasture looking lush? I bet you have to restore it after awhile when you have these small acreages..
 
Susanna de Villareal-Quintela
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Lyvia, the Michigan is taking agricultural residuals very seriously. The State provides a similar service to that of your county but it also provides the opportunity for farms to become "Environmentally Verified." The designation means the farm is in compliance with good nutrient management among other things. It's pretty nice. In addition, to keep suburban areas from becoming too congested, many communities are encouraging horse ownership. In my area we haven't had a problem with aminopyralid contamination in horse manure but I always test before I use it (if I bring in outside manure).

Greta, in this drought my pastures are standing at 3 feet. In fact, my cows and horses are not eating fast enough! I may have to drop it after the golden-rod finishes its flowering stage to encourage seed and to give the undergrowth time enough to get 24-36 inches high coming into winter. I do have native grass pastures vs Timothy or a "traditional" blend. So the fields are dynamic and rarely struggle. As in all things, it comes down to the best management for your land. We, also, have 4 bee hives. All are healthy. We've lost a hive or two over the past few years but that was hypothermia related vs contamination.

In my opinion, horses need less than people want to pamper them with.

Joy to all,

Suzanne
 
Greta Fields
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Suzanne,
You give me hope, maybe I could fit a horse into permaculture. I have a field with about 12 acres grass and weeds. My horses used to get out and go down the hollow to eat lawn grass.
Greta
 
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Well, one idea is that you could have a horse mow your yard, and maybe train it to defecate in your garden or compost pile. You could also use it manure for biogas. And one thing my grandfather was interested in, but never got to do was to have a large horse, (like a Belgian, which are "gentle giants") turn a large wheel to generate power, or pump water. Although I don't know how well that would work out, or how efficient that would be.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
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Ben, horses can be used as a power source. In fact, they still are. One can buy used and new horse drawn farm equipment, including mowers, various harvesters, plows, cultivators. Horses are still used to bring cut trees out of wood lots. Many a sorghum press can be powered by a horse, as with grain mills too. I've seen in old books where horses were used on treadmills to provide power to machines, but I've never seen it done in the flesh.

If one had the land to support a horse, I see no reason why not to include them in a permaculture scheme. Luckily I live in a place where I have year around grazing. In ten years I've never bought hay.

...Su Ba
 
                    
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Horses and permaculture can go hand in hand if managed properly.
We have a herd of 21 horses and these family members provide the bulk of our compost.
It took us 3 years to hand plant 6 acres of supplimental feed (a type of pangola) in which we harvest every day for their needs. They in return provide us with roughly 10 tons of manure per year, per horse, do the math! They help us to keep the grass mowed (our lawns) and they provide an income through teaching people about Liberty horse training in which we offer year round courses.
The horses also assist us in spiritual retreats and therapeutic encounters, which allows us to be sustainable as far as their upkeep and maintenance from the proceeds they help generate. We do not use them for transportation or for horseback riding. They have become teachers and they are well worth it.
So, if properly managed, yes, they can become a critical component to our permaculture efforts we practice.
Of course, they cannot be allowed to enter our food forest or organic gardens for they will wreak havoc on the plants, but we are fortunate enough to have enough property for them to graze happily. All the horses live free in the paddocks and are not stabled. We do not use any restrictive measures in their training and they are more than happy to participate any time we have a student or guest.
Yes, they help us in our sustainability efforts. Also, they put a smile on everyones face who stays here and this is priceless.
 
Posts: 280
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Eden Ranch wrote:Also, they put a smile on everyones face who stays here and this is priceless.



I have to agree - this is a big plus point.

I have 2 - a Clydesdale and a very rare Eriskay pony. Their manure is very useful in regenerating the very denuded soil and providing bugs for the chickens to eat. I am hoping to use them to work some of the land when I can afford a harness big enough for the Clydie.
 
Lisa Paulson
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Benjamin Hiatt wrote:Well, one idea is that you could have a horse mow your yard, and maybe train it to defecate in your garden or compost pile. You could also use it manure for biogas. And one thing my grandfather was interested in, but never got to do was to have a large horse, (like a Belgian, which are "gentle giants") turn a large wheel to generate power, or pump water. Although I don't know how well that would work out, or how efficient that would be.



I have yet to teach a horse to defecate in a specific spot : )
You do not need a big horse to turn a wheel for grinding or pumping water , or for that matter skid logs or other utilitarian uses. I am thinking harvesting the methane for use is an idea whos time has come .
 
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Something I haven't seen mentioned here is using a horse or a team for snow plowing. They are awfully good for that! So figure in how much gas you wouldn't have to buy for that and another few chores they can do before you decide they are such a big expense. I am pretty sure I could make a horse pay its own way fairly easily. Learning to trim feet would be useful, too, and I don't think it's too hard if you're not needing shoes or anything complicated. Horses in work keep their own feet trimmed, and often need only little touchups. As far as minis go, I have a few friends who have them, and I wouldn't even consider it. Maybe mini donkey, but not horse. They often seem to be plagued with health issues and it's quite hard to keep them from getting too fat and getting laminitis. It's worth mentioning that unless you're keeping too many horses, then de-worming is not something they need often once they reach adulthood. Just like dogs, the adults develop immunity. I never dewormed horses unless fecal egg counts indicated it was necessary. Horses' value as lawn mowers is underestimated, too. They are not really very hard to keep fenced unless the area has little graze for them. I think if I was to truly shoot for being sustainable on a homestead, it would be necessary to have horses. I just thought, too, that even minis could be used for moving the chicken tractors around.
 
steward
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I know this thread is a bit old but I thought you all might be interested in what Paul has to say about horses vs. tractors in this podcast. I absolutely love horses but have debated heavily if they would be right for me and my future little homestead.

Solar Powered Homestead Podcast Part 3
 
pollinator
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My two horses are stalled at night. They produce a combined 20 gallons manure a day. Easily harvested from the stall. We are currently bringing in hay until we have a better grazing program.

My current fertilizing program is 100% horse manure and I had the best and biggest individual sized onions and potatoes this year out of 20 years of gardening.

Hay gets two uses:

I'm feeding off site grown hay, feeding to horses, then using tractor buckets of manure at a time to improve my soil.

Is it self sustainable? No. Am I gonna get rid of my horses because I have a self sustainable goal? No. AM I Working On Pasture Land That WILL be self sustainable? YES! The imported hay is helping with that.
 
Posts: 243
Location: Northern New Mexico, Latitude:35 degrees N, Elevation:6000'
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I'm glad this topic was revived. I have two horses. The one was a gift horse, which is too old and crippled to ride, so he's basically a pasture statue. And my other horse, I like to ride around. While in the mountains today, I was letting my horse stop and eat all the different things he preferred. Some of those things were setting seed, maybe too early to be viable, but I kept thinking of how great it would be to use him to carry seeds for me back to my property. He'll pick em and plant em himself so that fits perfect with my laid back/lazy approach. I was also wondering if I could get some goats to follow us around.

Plus I can imagine, eventually, that I will find it helpful to have a cart that my horse can pull around to help me move heavy objects, and large quantities of stuff.

And the manure.....my rideable horse does most of his pooping in one certain area. It's in this lane that runs right next to my food forest. So I planted paw-paw, "still need to plant more", along that lane area. Plus I can gather all that manure up and spread it around where I want it, which I feel is a huge bonus.
 
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Ive had my farm for 20 years, 10 of which it has had horses on it... The number has varied from 5 to 2 on 13-15ish of my 20 acres which is located around atlanta ga. My property when purchased was covered in large granite slabs 'some large enough for substantial house foundations' MANY pine trees, Few varied oaks, box wood, clay and sand. Im proud to say after ten years of horsing here my farm has gained tremendous amounts of topsoil.
MORE OAKS
better grass
less sand
larger variety of plants around whole farm
i havent mowed a lawn in 5 years

Im also a huge proprietor of horses having a purpose. EVERYONE is happier with something to do and take pride in...
I DONT KNOW WHAT I would do with out my boys, they are like my left leg and my right hand!
Even my 35+ horse still enjoys taking me around the fence line several time a week, a task that would have to be done a foot other wise.
As for my young buck hes my right hand man that is called on for lots of things aka
dragging fence panels
trees
Chasing loose goats
quick farm rounds
*farm marketing
many years of income from with riding lessons

I could never see my life without at least one horse in it...

 
Posts: 74
Location: upstate NY near MA/VT
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Hi ya'll. We live on 18 acres here in upstate NY on the MA/VT border, and I've always had goats then llamas. I also had to haul soil from other farmers who had more manure than they needed because we live on shale. All our raised beds are built and replenished using composted cattle, goat, sheep and llama manure for soil. The soil hauling days are over, as I now have a quarterhorse who lives with my three llamas. This next summer, the manure will be piled, and composted, some of which will be able to go into the beds. I also built a prison garden using quickly composted (with lime) horse manure and woodchips.

So, to answer your question, of course horses are farm animals and they DO fit into permaculture. Her little barefoot hooves (she's 14.2 hands) are now tilling the ground where we threw rye seeds. I will be separating everyone from the barn pasture area in the spring, and allowing this to replenish and grow. We have several pastures available from a good neighbor above us as we live on a mountain.

To see more of my philosophy of community, visit this link where Countryside Magazine has kindly published my article. Thank you.

http://www.countrysidemag.com/articles/build-a-cattle-panel-hoop-house/


Jules
 
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Tyler Ludens... what is your soil like. It is mind boggling that it would take fifty acres to feed one horse. I'm not doubting you but ...Holy Smokes!!! We figure two acres per horse here in southern Iowa. I have been looking at quite a few videos on hand baling hay. I am thinking of doing enough small manual bales for my own two that all of my large, baled on shares, bales could be sold. I can only hope.

I also use the Parelli method of training and I have to say that if it weren't for the horses, I probably would have never been brought to permaculture. And as far as their value.... they eat what others don't. They fill a niche with other grazers and through that they add to the health of any pasture. Last year I got suckered into buying nine hundred dollars worth of composted cow manure. Big mistake!!! for the nine hundred I could have just added a bit more and would have been able to buy a mini spreader. The cow manure introduced so much weed seed that it nearly ruined my hayfield. I am building a custom blend horse hay so needless to say there was a good amount of rage. Chicken and horse manure from now on!

On having minis... it is more important to choose by temperment. I have seen some that were rascals and some that thought they were Man O'War. But they were bred to be pit ponies so they provided a lot of labor on rather mean provisions. Hitch one to a cart and watch it go! they are more than capable. They don't eat much and then there is the poop! If you need a little more muscle, step up to a pony. I have a welsh mountain pony sec. A. They are very economical in the feed department. I also have a haflinger. she is on the big end of the breed... about 14.2 but still incredibly feed efficient.

Geoff Lawton sets up grazing in pastures and then has his permaculture plantings surrounding those pastures. ( I saw someone else also mentioned this) I have done the opposite. Plantings are to the interior and horses graze in perimeter alleys, like Jaime Jackson's track system.

I question why people question a horse. They don't question a tractor. A tractor provides only one thing.... power. then we take that power and hook tools to it. We consider it necessary so it is justified. Like the tractor the equine family comes in every imaginable size and ability. You can get one to match your needs regardless of the size of property and unlike the tractor, the horse has value added properties
 
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For my money you cant beat draft ponies or donkeys on the farm.
They are the easiest of keepers, more muscle lb for lb and as a bonus are frequently great at predator control too.
I had Haflingers (aka air ferns who thrived on very little) who were smart and sure footed and perfectly tolerant of our pet dogs. But a neighbor dog or coyote took it's life in it's paws if it crossed our land.
 
Posts: 245
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Jeanine Gurley Jacildone wrote:My Grandmother used to say "horse manure is gold in the garden".

That, of course, was before herbicide/insecticide sprayed hay and chemical dewormers.

If you could find a way to feed your horse hay that was not contaminated and keep parasites at bay with out the use of chemical dewormers then I believe that not only would you have a wonderful companion but also some 'gold' for your garden.  Sounds like a permaculture win/win to me.



Many horses live in pastures that are not sprayed and their organically inclined owners very rarely consider it necessary to use chemical dewormers or vaccinations on them. Some areas of Texas and Oklahoma a horse can live entirely on a native pasture that has been upgraded to contain some coastal and rye grass. Weeds are controlled by mowing or grazing - not spraying.

There are herbal dewormers. And as for chemical dewormers, some are more mild than others and there is a great variety of frequency of usage. Horse manure does need to be composted as it is hot enough to burn plants if not composted first.
 
The moth suit and wings road is much more exciting than taxes. Or this tiny ad:
PEP1 Certification workshop/gathering/event May/June 2019
https://permies.com/wiki/98047/PEP-Certification-workshop-gathering-event
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