Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sea Buckthorn Buds in the Spring




Five Horizons of Appreciation!

All around me I am thankful for the new warmth of the air and land.  The fifth horizon, the one of stars and skies and of friends and contemplation are gaining strength as well.  I would like to share an update on Craig, my friend and who is very often a boatload of inspiration.  Sadly he is away, half way around the world continuing to do some very important work. With technology being what it is today, communication is quite easy.  His help is immeasurably important, motivating, and diverse.  When you read this Craig let it be another reminder of how lucky we both are and how very much you are missed.  

Sea Buckthorn Spring Buds

Some time ago Mont-Echo answered a question for me about Sea Buckthorn buds.  I asked if there was anyway to tell the sex of a plant by the winter buds.  She said that often, but not always, the male buds are larger.  I did some observation on the plants I have here in Mansfield and it seems to have proven to be true. The buds haven't fully matured yet, but yes, the plants with the larger buds over the winter seem to be developing the signature male flower "purses".  The female plants do not show any signs of flowers yet and that is understandable.   Even fully flowering buds are nearly invisible.  They are very small.  
Here are a few photos I took today.
Male spring buds with round "purse-like" flowers (unopened)
Taken same day, different plant.  Buds on female Sea Buckthorn


.

Another potential female plant
This one is sort of inbetween looking, I vote for female.  Close up below.




Male Seaberry buds in very early Spring.

Himalayan Seeds

I was very lucky recently to obtain some seaberry seeds from the Himalayas.  I have just planted some and will update as they germinate!

Plant Sales:

Plant sales have been very good.  The next ship date is April 19th.  I am offering a big discount to readers of this blog.  Free shipping the prices ranging from $5.00/plant to $6.00 per plant depending on the number ordered. Prior sales excluded and this sale requires a minimum purchase.   
Also Available:
  • Sea Buckthorn seeds (limited quantity until new shipment arrives)
  • Parsley, Hamburg Rooted seeds
  • Yellowhorn Seeds
  • Ground Cherry Seeds (very limited quantity)
  • Sea Buckthorn Oil Soap - popular and very good stuff.
  • More permaculture, sustainable seed varieties coming very soon.  
All these are available by clicking the link on the right.  

A Couple of Other Thank You's

Doug Wallace left a nice comment recently.  I hope to review his work soon, but in the meantime visit The Gaia Health Blog  it has lots of great information.  
I also want to thank Carl from Quebec.  I hope we can work together promoting the value of Seabuckthorn in both our countries!


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What is Sea Buckthorn?

I was thinking as the pageviews approach 100,000 and there are more and more visitors each day seeking out information on Sea Buckthorn, I would like to take a few minutes to review some key facts about the plant.  But first a very brief bit of background about Foxgreen Farm and the new jiovi.


Tom (me) purchased a good bit of land in central Maine about 14 years ago.  The area is isolated, quiet, and, on a overcast night with a new moon, so dark you cannot see your hand in front of your face with your eyes wide open.  I have found that being in a place so natural for an extended period of time, the world doesn't seem so far away as you might think.  We don't realize how much we give up in order to have so much stuff.  The absence of television, traffic noise, and street lights doesn't limit but expands my perception of what the earth I live on has to offer.  Smells, wind, and sounds, oh the sounds, are normalized the way I believe humans nearly always perceived and were built to interpret.  If everyone had a couple of weeks (or more!) to detox from the modern world, they, like me, would find that there is little need for the weather forecast when the sound, direction, and feel of the wind is dead-on accurate as a predictor.  Mice walking can be heard.  Larger animals can be discovered with a nuanced change noticed by the nose below your eyes. An oh, there is so much more....  Sea buckthorn came into the picture a little over four years ago when I was looking for a hardy plant for the conditions in central Maine.  I obtained some seeds from Lithuania and the rest is chronicled within the posts in this blog.
Tom and Craig's daughter making the snow angles after the snowmobile got stuck.

Craig (the very good friend I mentioned the last post) has been planning on living off the grid, in a cabin, in the woods, for as long as he can remember.  For the last 10 years he has looked for a piece of remote land, researched of grid systems and learned about the pursuit of a sustainable lifestyle.  Craig purchased a large piece of property a little less than a mile away, as the crow flies, from my cabin. We have become soul-mates of sorts and will be engaged  for a long time connecting the wilderness, ourselves, and others in a new pre-oil agroecology.  Sea buckthorn may be a cornerstone, and we promise, as we build this newer way of living, to experiment and explore, share and invite, smile and embrace, and support each other, the land, and we invite you to come along with us.


A Little History and Background about Sea Buckthorn
The common sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides), is by far the most widespread of the species in the genus Elaeagnaceae.  It has eight subspecies extending from the Atlantic coasts of Europe to northwestern China.  In western Europe, it is largely confined to sea coasts where salt spray from the ocean and the salty soil does not bother it.  There is some concern in western Europe the plant is invasive.  I say no.  There are some control measures but the plant retains the soil and provides habitat for a variety of other species.  In central Asia it is more widespread.  The plant does not tolerate shady conditions and is found in subalpine areas, as well as, above the tree-line.  It is drought tolerant.  There are species which reach as large as 25 feet and others which are small shrubs.   In China the sea buckthorn was used more than 1200 years ago for the production of medicine and documented (recently again here) in Europe in the 1500's for medicine against diseases like fever, purging of angry moods, and stomach pain.  Craig has found, in the first ever research based cookbook on cavemen and vikings, seabuckthorn was mixed with wild apples and may have been served with salted and dried sheep's ribs steamed over birch branches and a barley-lentil pot with blubber.   The book is currently unavailable on Amazon but you can get the author's email on the Danish site Communicating Culture.  
The Taste
The taste of the orange fruits is sourish.  I find the juice needs only a slight bit of sweetening for it to be delicious.  In a smoothie, a banana or other sweet fruit does the trick.  It can be used in a variety of preparations in the kitchen.  Savory, as in sauce for duck or dressing on salads.  Sweet as in jams, and baked goods, chocolate.  Simple drinks with milk or keifer and honey or a favorite berry preserve are very tasty and healthy.
They are also fine in spiced snaps and lot of other libations.  Many of these drinks can be found on the recipe page.
For the Body 
New research supports the historical claims of a calming effect of sea buckthorn and its clinical benefits in mental health therapies.  (Oral Supplementation of Sea Buckthorn- PDF)  Sea buckthorn has over 190 bioactive compounds, I review many of them (In all things in nature, there is something marvelous.)   Seaberry supplementation or external applications (creams, soaps, and lotions) have proven scientific benefits for an array of skin problems like rosacea, eczema etc.  In a nutshell, the anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant qualities rank sea buckthorn near the top of nutraceutical and food medicine lists.
The Plant
Seabuckthorn ( Hippophae rhamnoides ) is a bush or shrub which is extremely hardy and thrives well in infertile soil.   This is possible because it has a coexistence with actinomyces fungi and frankia bacteria.  These fungi and bacteria work together both inside and outside of the root system of the plant binding free nitrogen from the air.  This means the bush can survive in the most desolate of places as long as there is enough of the little water it needs and has tons of sun.  The plant flowers most commonly in April and they are not easily visible. (See Do I have a male or female plant?)  Hippophae rhamnoides needs both male and female flowers in order to make fruit.  These do not occur on the same plant although there are some experiments with grafting male scions onto female plants and visa versa.  As of yet, I have not obtained any results to pass along to you regarding these tests.  In August and September the bush will show a lot of orange to yellow/orange fruit.  the berries are extremely high in vitamin C, A, B, E and P.  They contain an array of Omega oils and dietary fibers.
Sea buckthorn has narrow shining leaves with silver undersides.  With lots of sun and left unchecked, it can form thick thorny thickets which are a paradise for birds as a nesting area.  There are only a few species of birds which will eat the berries as a less favored winter resource.   The plant is also very useful in shelterbelts and for beach and slope soil stabilization.
More for the Body
Different parts of sea buckthorn have been used as traditional medicine as therapies for diseases.  Most of this knowledge is not referenced outside Asia (that, however is changing quickly).  So lets call these next examples "Folk Medicine".  China and other mainland regions of Asia have used sea buckthorn as an herbal remedy for centuries to relieve cough, aid digestion, invigorate blood circulation and alleviate pain.  Bark and leaves may be used to treat diarrhea and dermatological disorders.   Berry oil, taken either orally or applied topically, may be used as a skin softener.  For its hemostatic and anti-inflammatory effects, the berries themselves are added to medications used for pulmonary, gastrointestinal, cardiac, blood and metabolic disorders (in Indian, Chinese and Tibetan medicines).  Sea buckthorn components have potential as an anticarcinogenic
More common daily uses
When the berries are pressed, the resulting sea buckthorn juice separates into three layers.  The top is a thick, orange cream.  The middle is a layer containing a high concentration of saturated and polyunsaturated fats.  The bottom layer is sediment and juice.  Sea buckthorn can be used to make pies, jams, lotions, beer, and liquors.  In Finland, it is used as a nutritional ingredient in baby food.  The high acidity is easily overcome by diluting with water and sweetening to taste.  Sea buckthorn leaves can be made into teas.
A really big thank to Craig for doing the additional research for this post-- Your the best!



Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sea Buckthorn Soap -Free Shipping


Do You jiovi?  I hope so ;)!

jiovi is the brand name for our products here at Foxgreen Farms.  It was some work to trademark etc.  but that is all part of the business process (I am learning).  The seeds, plants, and now the very, very begining of a line of Sea Buckthorn products which will have the jiovi brand and logo.  What does jiovi mean?  I'll let you decide.  It, however, does have an association with artisinal agro-ecological products and information.  Let me present to you our (you might be wondering why I say "our"- I'll explain a bit in a minute) first product in Sea Buckthorn soap and skin care.  


This is a wonderful luxury soap made with Sea Buckthorn Oil!  The full list of ingredients are saponified sweet almond oil, avocado oil, cocoa butter, castor oil, olive oil, sea buckthorn oil, shea butter, water, and fragrance oil (lemon, vetiver, sandalwood)  This great soap is gentle, scented lightly for women and men, is fresh and clean!  Soap contains no harmful chemicals, no SLS or SLSA, parabens, or detergents.  Bar is about 4 oz.  Sea Buckthorn has properties which can be very beneficial to the skin.  


Purchase Choices - Free shipping!


I would like to welcome a very good and well respected friend of mine to the Foxgreen Farm and jiovi business.  He will be an integral and essential partner as time moves ahead.  We both subscribe to the belief bringing quality, natural products and services to market should be sustainable and resilient as we help the world transition to a post-oil economy.  I hope to introduce him in more detail very soon.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Where can I buy Seaberry or Sea Buckthorn Plants?

Seabuckthorn Plant Buying Guide


I am going to try my best to list the available places and types of Sea Buckthorn plants for sale from many places.  Hippophae rhamnoides plants (seaberry) are in fairly high demand.  The companies listed below tend to sell out.  So if you choose to purchase from one of them, it is a good idea to make your choices and place your order as soon as possible.  

Types of Plants

Unsexed - Sea Buckthorn plants are either male or female.  Determining their sex can only be accomplished by observing their blossoms or the fruit (if it is a female plant)  These plants are generally, but not always less expensive since you are not certain which sex or the proportion of male vs. female plants you receive.  These plants have been propagated from seed, not from cuttings and are generally more vigorous and the survival rate is higher once you get them home and planted in your garden.

Suppliers of Unsexed Seabuckthorn Plants - 

  1. Right here!  :-)  On the sidebar to the right, I have a link for plant sales from Foxgreen Farms.  These are the same plants which I have talked about for the last 100 posts here on this blog.  What I can tell you is that they are tough and beautiful plants.   I have purchased hundreds of dollars of varietal plants and have not had anywhere near the survival success with those.  The downside, of course, is that not knowing whether you have a male or female Sea Buckthorn plant until they flower so,  (sometime between the 2nd to 3rd year after planting), it will be a source of mystery and anticipation.  The upside is that they are more likely to grow.  
  2. Whole Systems Design was selling some unsexed plants and here is the link  http://www.wholesystemsdesign.com/wsrf-sales  Right now they have wine cap mushroom spore for sale and I do not see any seabuckthorn plants.  That could change so check it out.  They were previously for sale for @$26.00 each.
  3. Burnt Ridge Nursery - Unsexed Sea Berry Seedlings are being sold for $6.00-$8.00 each with shipping starting at $16.50 https://www.burntridgenursery.com/prodinfo.asp?number=NSSEUNS
  4. Fedco Trees in Waterville, Maine has had them in the past too.  Right now they are out of stock and I do not know when they may have more.  The link to their sea buckthorn seedling page is http://www.fedcoseeds.com/trees/search.php?item=3141&listname=Sea%20Buckthorn   The price listed is $14.00/plant or $50.00 for 5
Sexed and maybe Varietal Sea Buckthorn Plants
Since you need a male and female plant to produce berries it is a good idea to plant a few unsexed plants or buy known genders from one of the following suppliers.  Sexed plants are propagated from rooted cuttings of known plants.  

Suppliers of Sexed  Seabuckthorn Plants-
  1. Raintree Nursery - http://www.raintreenursery.com/Unusual_Edibles/Sea_Berries/  Raintree has 4 varieties of female Seaberries available and 1 male variety.  The females are Askola, Golden Sweet, Leikora, and Titan.  The prices range from $21.50 to $24.50/plant.  Shipping starts at $14.95.
  2. Burnt Ridge Nursery- has sexed plants too.  They offer Garden's Gift and Golden Sweet varieties of hippophae rhamnoides.  Prices start at $13.50.  Shipping starts at $16.50.
  3. Direct Gardening- Has one variety for sale, Leikora.  The price is $12.99.  Shipping starts at $9.99. http://www.directgardening.com/detail.asp?ProductID=3075
  4. Honeyberry USA  - They have 2 varieties.  Star of Altai (sold out) and Russian Orange.  Prices start at $20.00/plant and shipping starts at $15-$20 depending on location and number of plants. http://honeyberryusa.com/honeyberry-plants-4.html  I was hoping to see them offer Autumn Gold Sea Buckthorn plants this year.  Maybe they do in Canada?
  5. One Green World - These guys/gals have the most choice of sea buckthorn varieties I have seen on the internet for sale.  The varieties are: Askola, Botanica, Frugana, Garden's Gift, Golden Sweet, Hergo, and Leikora.  They have a male seaberry plant for sale too, as do most of the places listed here. https://www.onegreenworld.com/products.php?category=397&  Prices start at $21.95 and shipping starts at $12.95
  6. Jung-  Has Leikora for sale.  Price starts at 21.95 and shipping varies. http://www.jungseed.com/dp.asp?pID=30439&c=236&p=Leikora+Sea+Berry+Or+Sea+Buckthorn
  7. Vermont Edible Landscapeshttps://www.facebook.com/vermontediblelandscapes/info has plants for sale, you would have to contact them to discover the details.  Better yet, if you live within driving distance, call Meghan and talk to her about visiting.
  8. Richters Herbs- (Canada but ships to US too) http://www.richters.com/newdisplay.cgi?page=home.html&cart_id=5936270.4419  Use the search box and enter Seabuckthorn.  The plants they have for sale indicate "Sold Out" They may get more, I don't know. 
Please comment or send me an email and I will add additional sources for Sea Buckthorn plants when I find out about them.  
One last sales pitch for the plants I have for sale.  They are the best buy around and the best quality for unsexed, non-varietal plants.  I planted nearly 500 of them last year and there was almost zero loss of plants. An amazing thing since I expected a 20 percent loss (reportedly normal).  Good shopping!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Winter Expedition to Foxgreen Farm in Seboeis Maine


  

Foxgreen Farm Expedition

Day 1

The whole country seems to have been hit with snow and cold this winter to a  degree which hasn't been repeated in over 50 years.  In normal circumstances, the farm in Maine is "locked in" for much of the winter. The plowed roads end.  After that there are 6.5 miles yet to go through the woods to the cabin, field and Farm.  Transportation is limited by snowmobile or more difficult snowshoe or cross country skiing.  Those last  two options would be a bad choice unless we were prepared for a real arctic experience.  Even if we were prepared, those non-motorized methods might not work this year.  The snow depth is far too great.  In the photo to the left, we are approaching the end of the pavement just after a fresh ten inches of fresh snow.  

The snow stopped falling, we unloaded and got ready to head out into the woods.   This is my best friend Doc and his daughter.  We had borrowed a "tag" sled trailer for the snowmobile and packed our stuff for the next few days.  At this point we had no idea if it was possible to reach the farm.  Snow depths can not be accurately predicted even across the few miles from where we are starting our adventure.  The microclimates make a huge difference over six miles and there is some elevation gain from where this photo is taken.  The snowmobile was rented and a two person model.  Perfect for me, Doc and his daughter comfortably sitting  between us, staying warm and safe.  Luckily the temperatures were fairly moderate.  

One more photo before heading out into the woods!

Our trip went smoothly for the first three miles or so. The road had been traveled before us by others on snowsleds and early in the winter was plowed briefly to accommodate logging operations.  





Here we are just heading out.















About a mile in, you can see the snow is getting deeper.  Previous snowmobile travel is getting less frequent.  I have a confession to make. Neither Doc or I are really experienced snomobilers and the weight of two and a half people on the sled while it was pulling a tag trailer added some significant difficulty to navigating ungroomed trails.  







This is the gate protecting the farm, Doc's land and other's.  We didn't have a gate for years and I wish it weren't necessary.  Central and Northern Maine have much more of an upside than down,  I really want to emphasize that.  The economy of the area needs a boost.  Part of the Sea Buckthorn experiment at Foxgreen Farm is to see if this could be a new crop opportunity in this part of the world.  I believe it is and if that proves to be true, the economic benefit would be very important to the area.  Historically, it is a "wood" economy.  Unless you are making money from timber, you aren't making money.  Problem is the timber isn't what it used to be and the larger machines and new technology at the mills require less people, so the area residents have fewer and fewer options.  
About 3 miles in the snow is even deeper and less traveled.  Here we are nearing the half-way point to the cabin and Farm.  We had seen numerous moose tracks, but none very recent.  Moose don't hibernate but they do something very close.  They lay down, sleep and only occasionally stand up to chew on a few twigs.  It really is an effort of energy conservation.  It is still a couple of months before fresh vegetation begins to grow.




After crossing the East Branch of the Seboies Stream Bridge there was no previous evidence of snowsled travel at all.  This meant that we were forging a fresh trail in very deep snow and it didn't work very well.  In an attempt at breaking new trail, Doc took the sled with his daughter and I staying behind and tried to stay on top of the snow. This would have packed the snow down a bit.  Even so, traveling on a newly packed trail is a bit like walking a tight rope.  Waver a bit and the sled just rolls slowly over into the soft snow. Kinda fun in a weird sort of way.   We were only partially successful in our forward efforts.  This is a photo of the 2nd time the snowsled sank.  We then tried again without the tag trailer.  I made it up part of the way on a fairly steep section of trail and sank.  We muscled the sled out and pointed it back down the hill.  
One time while we were getting the snowsled back on top of the snow.  Doc's daughter looks in this photo to be a bit exasperated.  I assure you she was having the time of her life.  Really remarkable how being in all that snow was just like some sort of winter wonderland for her (it was for us too).  I don't have any pics yet of it but when we tumbled in the snow a few times it wasn't a concern, just an opportunity to make more snow angels!  The time it took to get this far was significant and it was time to point the snowsled back to the trailer and try again tomorrow.

Day 2

I want to take a minute to thank the group of people who helped us out.  I won't mention them by name but a neighbor in the woods who stays the winter months in a camp on the paved road put us up for a few nights. His neighbors welcomed us with nothing short of a celebration of food and fun.  The tag trailer was generously offered for use. On the phone, I got some excellent advice too.  The second day, another woods neighbor and his son who have "mountain" snowsleds heard of our efforts and called to offer their assistance. I think it may have been impossible to make it all the way to the Farm if they hadn't helped us out.  Thanks to them all!

The second day was not without its challenges.  The next few photos do a pretty good job showing the snow depth and how it can swallow you up if not careful.  I had already pulled myself out when I took these next few photos. Note again, Doc's daughter is lighter, floats, and just thought all this was the best ever.







Crawling up and out......















Almost out!















A survivor :-).  Onward to the Farm and Cabin!














We arrived shortly after the snow almost swallowed us up like a Florida sink hole- OK, I exaggerate.  It was afternoon and the day was going fast.  We couldn't spend much time.  Being able to see the trail in the daylight was more than just a little important as we headed back out of the woods.




This is the best photo I have of the Sea Buckthorn Orchard.  As I said, the daylight was limited (you can see the shadow of the hill on the lower part of the far trees) and we just had enough time to spend a few minutes around the cabin before heading out.  You can see in the lower field the tops of the plants. While I did not have time to break another foot trail down there and get some closer pictures, I was very glad to see they hadn't been eaten by moose down to the snowline.  I'll be back in as soon as possible to make a closer assessment.  

Here is Doc and daughter on the porch of the cabin. Behind them is, buried under the snow, about 100 saskatoon bushes.  I will have to wait to see how they made out until the spring.
Time to go, the sun was getting lower and lower in the sky.















We made it out ok and just before dark.  Growing Sea Buckthorn has just gained a new dimension for me.  It has never been better.  This winter expedition has highlighted the incalculable value of community and friends in the wilds of Maine.







Foraging for Beer in Scotland

A Team of Brewers Collaborate on a Unique Beer in Scotland


The beer style itself is called a gruit, it’s a historic European style that doesn't use hops but instead uses botanicals and herbs to provide the bitterness and flavor that hops normally do.
Six foraged ingredients - scurvy grass, laver, crab apples, black loveage, juniper branches and sea buckthorn - will be included in the beer.
Interesting stuff.  I have never heard of gruit style beer which uses alternates to hops as ingredients.  There is no review of the beer itself here since it hasn't been made yet.  Good luck to them!  Other beer reviews using sea buckthorn can be seen here -  

Three Sea Buckthorn Beer Reviews!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sea Buckthorn Snow Cookies - Updated and Nearly Vegan!

This recipe is on the recipe page. http://seaberry-hippophaerhamnoides.blogspot.com/2012/12/cooking-with-seabuckthorn-sea-berries.html   I have made some changes or alterations and it worked out so good, I wanted to share right away.

Seabuckthorn Snow Cookies

Ingredients:
1/2 cup hard Coconut oil (cool if liquified, coconut oil will be solid at temps below 70 degrees)*
4 oz.  Cream Cheese
1 cup  Cane Sugar
4 Tb Sea Buckthorn Juice
1 1/3 cups Unbleached White Flour 
2/3 cup Almond Flour*
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp  Salt
1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
*Note about the coconut oil and almond flour in recipes.  Coconut oil can be used 1:1 as a replacement for butter.  If you have recipe for melted butter, just melt the coconut oil.  Almond (and Chestnut Flour) can be substituted for 1/3 of the flour in baking. 

Method:
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Cream together the coconut oil and  cream cheese.
Add the Sea Buckthorn juice and mix well. 
Mix dry ingredients separately and add to wet ingredients.  Just mix to combined, do not over mix.  Form into 1" balls and put on greased cookie sheet (use greased parchment paper if you have it).  
Bake for about 12 minutes.  The original recipe said 10 minutes.  Mine took at least the 12 minutes.  Maybe it was the almond flour which is "wetter" than regular flour.  Keep an eye on them.  They don't overcook too quickly.  Take them out when the tops look the slightest bit browned.  At that time the bottom of the cookies (on parchment paper) will be a perfect brown color.
Let cool for 5 minutes in pan before transferring to a rack.  Once they have cooled to lukewarm, dip the tops in confectioners sugar and shake off the excess. Make a fairly thin mixture of seaberry juice and confectioners sugar to very lightly dot the tops. 
These sea buckthon and cream cheese cookies may just the best cookies you have ever had.  I think they are, and so far, my most difficult critic (Mom) agrees :-).  

>> you can get the juice and almond flour at e-vitamins.com and first time customers get $5.00 off their first order, complements of Foxgreen Farm.  If you click this link, the $5.00 will already be in your cart as a credit.  







About Us

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Craig and Tom have become soul-mates of sorts and will be engaged for a long time connecting the wilderness, ourselves, and others in a new pre-oil agroecology. We promise, as we build this newer way of living, to experiment and explore, share and invite, smile and embrace, and support each other, the land, and we invite you to come along with us. Good people, gardens, nature, wilderness, exploration, sailing and art are all #1 with us. "If you want to sing out, sing out. If you want to be free, be free." Learn something new everyday and life is good.