Harvesting the Potato Crop… with “help” from Daisy Deer!

Just as the Oklahoma heat set in a few weeks back, I noticed the potato bugs were attacking my garden in full force.  This has certainly been a year of pestilence, and I have fought insects of all sorts on nearly every vegetable I planted this season.  Despite using an all-natural product along with diatomaceous earth, the potato bugs persisted, and finally the plants began to yellow and the stalks laid over.  Higher temperatures in the 90’s and 100’s expedited the process.  The fight was over – It was time to throw in the towel and dig up the crop.

Daisy pacing the garden fence. She knows there are good eats inside!

This year, I put in four different types of seed potatoes.  After last year’s failures, I vowed not to plant either the Red LaSoda or the Yukon Gold again.  The Red LaSoda had a strange taste that neither FD nor I cared for.  The Yukon Gold simply had a very poor turnout.  Not only was the yield itself minimal, but the tubers were small to boot.  Still, I wound up letting myself get talked into trying the Yukon Gold once again after hearing a few people rave about having such good luck with them.  So I gave them a whirl one more time, along with Cobblers, Red Pontiac and Kennebec’s varieties.

Daisy curiously watches my potato digging efforts, while chewing her cud.

Kennebec’s had always been a good producer for my Mom.  She planted a huge garden every year.  I’m not sure it was something she necessarily enjoyed, but she definitely had the old “green thumb” and was quite good at it. Each year, her labor in the garden helped supplement food stores for our family of seven people.

Mom always enlisted the help of my brother, three sisters, and I to do the planting and weeding.  I never much cared for that kind of work, as I was more the domestic type; my niche was cleaning house, helping out in the kitchen and watching my baby sister (I was twelve when she was born).  But I was required to put in my time in the garden too and, for that very reason, I refused to plant a garden for many years after I left home.  It just did not interest me in the least!

Some twenty years later, I became interested in flowers and landscaping and poured myself into making our home a showcase of beauty and tranquility.  Not long after, I began to dabble with planting a few vegetables in with the flowers.  After a few more years, FD and I decided to incorporate better eating habits into our daily lives to address a problem with his cholesterol.  This meant eating clean meats, along with fresh fruits and vegetables.  I was more receptive to a vegetable garden by this time, and when we moved from town to this ten acres, I was actually excited about having plenty of space to grow my own produce.

Mmm, these smell mighty tasty… I think I’ll just have one!

Back to the present, it was sunny and quite warm the morning I decided to dig up this year’s crop of potatoes.  Rain was forecast to hit in a couple of days and I wanted the project complete before the ground became too muddy to work.  I gathered my buckets, potato fork, and another smaller bucket for chicken delights, and out to the garden I went.

For those not savvy to raising chickens, “chicken delights” are grub worms, bugs, and weeds that are collected and thrown over the fence into the chicken yard.  The ladies and roosters love scratching through the weeds and dirt, discovering these tasty delights in the mess.  In fact, whenever I am working in the garden they are always lined up at the fence waiting for me to toss something delectable over to them!  Oh yes, they know I AM the chicken delight lady!

Crunchdillyicious!

No sooner had I stuck my tater fork in the ground on the first row of Cobblers, when I noticed Daisy deer standing at the gate.  I was hoping she would be dozing in the canyon under some nice shade trees, back in the woods.  But alas, here she was, pacing the fence and wanting to come in the garden to “help”.

I have two gardens – one has only tomatoes planted in it (several varieties), and the other garden spot has various other vegetables along with a few cherry tomato vines I planted for Daisy.  Occasionally, I allow her in that pen to help herself to her tomatoes, along with ground cherries and some seed corn stalks we planted for her.  She loves tomatoes, plant and all!  But the last time I let her in to browse “her garden”, she also ate my bean plants!  I had not considered that when I let her in and, after having to replant my beans, she will now have to stay out until they finish producing. Before you think, “Ah, poor little deer”, let me assure you, it is doubtful this will cause her diet to suffer.

Everyone knows you can’t eat just ONE!!

Having been banned from “her garden”, Daisy finally opted to lay outside the fence, content to watch me for now.  I worked steadily, digging each row and being careful to keep each type of potato separate from the others.  I found the Cobblers to be a good producer, with several large spuds in the mix.  The Red Pontiac did well too, although I noticed a few grubs had whittled away on the larger taters.  The Kennebec’s were huge and plentiful and I was quite impressed with this variety.  Unfortunately, the Yukon’s were, once again, a huge disappointment.  They were small, with only a few spuds to each plant.  I vowed for certain this variety would not find its way to my garden ever again!

A bumper crop of new potatoes!

As I hauled my buckets from the garden to dry on the picnic table that sits in the shade near our house, Daisy followed close behind, even sticking her nose in the buckets as I walked.  I discovered last year that she had quite a penchant for taters.  When we turned her in to the mostly spent garden as a fawn last year, she hoofed at the soil and found several spuds in the ground that I had somehow missed harvesting, and crunched them right up!

Not surprisingly, as I began laying this year’s crop of taters on the picnic table, Daisy went for a small one, grabbed it with her lips and rolled it around in her mouth.  Lifting her head and maneuvering the spud back to her molars, she CHOMPED it loudly.  Remembering her love of these tasty tubers, I put several of the smaller ones to the edge of the picnic table so she could have a few and, in no time, she had downed seven or eight taters!  Soon, she was helping herself to other, larger potatoes, so I finally decided to put the rest of them on the back porch where she could not reach them.  The poor Cobblers took a beating before I could get them all relocated.  Daisy ate quite a few before she finally went to the shade near the back porch where she could watch me finish my work… and chew her starchy cud!

Next year, I will definitely be putting in lots of Cobblers and Kennebecs.  The flavor and texture of both have been outstanding.  The Pontiac Reds are a nice potato too.  These three varieties will absolutely have a place in my garden each coming year! And I am quite sure I will have “help” with the harvest from Daisy deer as well.  Something tells me that we ARE her herd, and she isn’t going anywhere.  Besides, the people really need her help around the place, don’t they?

No one can resist new taters!

© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


59 thoughts on “Harvesting the Potato Crop… with “help” from Daisy Deer!

    1. I am happy she has stayed with us too. It makes me happy to see her roaming free, doing as she pleases, and yet she still tries to get with the wild deer that are in the area. She’s ventured off to the west to the river and also north of town quite a distance. Still, she has chosen this as her home.

      There is something very special about bonding with animals… I know you know that with Pumpkin. It just can’t be described!

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      1. It is one thing to be bonded with a dog, quite another to have raised a deer who considers your home her home. It is deeply satisfying for me to see her pictures and know she still is your girl. Anyone that reads your blog would feel the same way as it is moving and sweet beyond words.

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        1. Mike, you always say the most beautiful things! Thank you. Daisy is a real gift; I’ve known it all along. How could I keep such a beautiful, trusting creature all to myself? I am so happy that she is my girl, and for whatever reason, she came to us when she needed help. I just didn’t know how much I needed her in my life at the time.

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    1. Why indeed she is!! It’s funny how Daisy can smell a good eat quite a way off. Same with smelling me when I’m nearby. She’ll catch my scent wherever she is in the woods, and pretty soon she’s up top here on the place next to me! That big ol’ nose gets really wet and her head will tilt up, sniffing the breeze. She’s an amazing young lady!

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  1. I’m so glad you had a bumper crop, and you obviously got Daisy’s approval on the spuds! It’s such a feeling of accomplishment to harvest what you’ve planted, tended to, and watched grow; and eating the bounty is definitely a big reward! Great post, as always 🙂

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    1. Thank you Baby Sister! It is a good feeling to enjoy the fruits and vegetables we spend so much time tending to. This year certainly was different with Daisy Deer grazing around sampling everything. I daresay, my blackberries, peaches and tomatoes have taken a “nibbling” and a trim here and there. Ah well, all sorts of wildlife seem to enjoy it and that is just fine with us!

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    1. Thank you Hannah. Yes, Daisy is a beauty and is the most amazing young lady. We are very glad she decided to stay around our place and decided we are her “herd”!

      My tomato garden is flourishing and the potatoes did well. My onions were a flop which has never happened before. My carrots, beans and cucumbers were disappointing too, though I’m trying a 2nd planting of cukes and beans. That’s the gamble with gardening… you just never know what will work in any given year!

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      1. I think it’s amazing, very self sufficient and I bet the successes taste delicious! Do you ever sell your produce? As space is an issue where I live, all I can do with any degree of success is grow sunflowers every year. They make me smile whenever I see them =]

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    1. I’m originally from a little town called Utica, Nebraska. Most of my family are all still living near that area. I’m so glad you came to visit my blog. Daisy’s complete story is written throughout the blog, under the “White-Tailed Deer” catagory.

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  2. I’m thinking of pulling mine too. Rough year for battles for the food crops. Glad you were able to get some and I hope that big mound of east out back surprises me by yielding some as well. Happy Harvest!

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  3. Strange year here… bountiful tomatoes and peppers, but most everything else has struggled. My onions were horribly disappointing. I never had such a bad year with onions. I hope you do well with your harvest. One thing for sure… we’ll be out there next year trying again, hopeful for better results!

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      1. I heard others around here had a bad onion year too. Not even half of what I planted lived, and what did live, was a puny lot! I have had to buy most of my onions to make roasted tomato sauce this year. Alas, gardening is a gamble!

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  4. Lori, Your mention of the chickens watching and waiting made me smile. Here on the Farmlet it is my geese! They murmel and honk, and lunge at the temporary fencing trying to get in while I work. They know that if they wait I will toss over a goody for them to try. Mostly they like the grassy weeds, but sometimes they will eat other things… Like my lettuce, tomatoes, and bok choy!!! I used to enjoy having them in with me while I worked, but they just can’t be trusted to wait for what is offered. The marauders! 😉
    ~ Lynda

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      1. Yes, I am really pleased with the Cobblers and Kennebec’s. I ended up giving some to friends… same with the tomatoes. I just had so many that I knew the two of us would never eat them fast enough. I’ve been freezing roasted tomato sauce like crazy! It’s a bumper crop tomato year!

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    1. Ha ha ha!! “Marauders”… that is true! I had Happy and Lucky ducks here for several months and they were the same. Under foot and in the way, diligently waiting to grab a worm or a grub as I was shoveling. Those two followed me everywhere honking as they waddled behind me. I sure do miss them.

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    1. Yes, who knew Daisy would be such a help? She also likes our blackberries, ground cherries, tomatoes, and cucumbers. She seemed to think all of the types of potatoes were yummy!

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  5. Every momen of sweat and work was more than worth it just for this one shot of Daisy munching on that first potato from the picnic table! Daisy is getting to be a real ham, isn’t she? Wonder what human she is learning that from? (tee,hee!) Love having your feedback vis-a-vis “animal sharing” over at my blog these days!

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    1. Oh, I am so drawn to your writings, Rose. I feel such a connection with nature, and your descriptive detail of the animals speaks mountains to me about the bonds of nature… so much the same for people, if only we could see it that way. We all have gifts… we all have problems to solve… and by helping one another with these gifts, it’s a miracle of sorts that comes about. That is what Daisy has done for me, and I’d like to think she has brought something to people from all over the world who choose to read about her.

      Daisy is indeed a ham! I love her silly nature. And then I watch her become alert and sometimes flee what could be danger. I watch her tenderly groom herself, licking wounds from barbed-wire that she never complains about. I get tickled watching her eat great quantities, only to see her chewing her cud under some tree later in the day, swatting flies and bugs with her ears, tail, and body shivers. She’s a beauty. Her gift to me is living in the moment…

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  6. Did you know the Kennebec potato originated in northern Maine? That part of the state is a major potato producer.
    Daisy had a potato picnic while you worked. So she ate your green beans? I stopped growing them because I thought the woodchucks were eating them, but it could have been deer. Quite often, I have tracks in the morning. Has Daisy every eaten radishes? Mine were chewed off this week for the first time ever.
    I see that you take your camera out to work with you, too. MIne is always on the garden stand, even if I just go out to water. That is when I see the most dragonflies.
    This was a neat post, Lori.

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    1. Thanks Sandy! Yes, my camera is older and has some debris in it that can’t be removed (we’ve had it professionally cleaned) but it’s perfect for outdoor shots. As you know in Oklahoma we have sandy soil and when it blows, there isn’t much it doesn’t either get into or damage somehow. I’m careful with our lenses too. I don’t change them out unless I’m inside where I’m protected from debris.

      When Daisy was little and we opened up the mostly spent garden (due to the drought) we noted what all she liked to eat so we could plant deer-friendly snacks if we raised anymore orphaned deer. She loved beans (plant and all), carrots (at the tops and hoofed for the carrot itself), potatoes, sweet potatoes (but not the tops of any potatoes), corn (stalk and all), cucumbers (whole plant and cuke), and of course tomatoes (plant and fruit). And, a bird must have dropped a milo seed as we had a milo plant come up and she LOVED eating the grain! She did not like onions, garlic, yellow squash, brussel sprouts or broccoli.

      I figure any critter that can get into your garden might be guilty. We now have fencing that only the birds can get into now. Well, and maybe a baby rabbit!

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  7. We had those nasty potato bugs too! Because our growing season is later than yours, we won’t be able to harvest them til fall. This is only our 2nd year of growing potatoes in the garden. Last year’s crop was almost an afterthought, but they turned out delicious! We are thinking of doubling our garden in size and selling a little fresh produce next year. Thanks for the potato review!

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    1. The local farmer’s markets can be a lot of fun. I never have sold my produce there, since I do a lot of freezing and don’t really plant a lot more than what we need. I give a lot of it away too. I think it would be an excellent way to make a little money. Gardening can be a lot of work, but I find it very rewarding. Every year is different!

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    1. I don’t think I ever get tired of those new potatoes! I remember them being so yummy as a kid.

      Daisy is such a joy. I saw her just a bit ago. It hit the 100° mark today and she came up top for water. I keep a water tub down in the canyon too but the crows and other critters also drink from it. I think she loves her “special” clean water! She is one spoiled girl… and enjoys her freedom to roam.

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  8. I always like to hear that Daisy Deer is doing well. I never really thought of deer eating potatoes. I had a pretty good crop of tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini and various peppers. The grasshoppers took care of just about everything else. Maybe I’ll have to try some potatoes because I do like them. Lets hope for a bit cooler summer than last year. It’s not near as much fun hiking and mountain biking in blistering heat. You guys take care and try to stay cool. That goes for Daisy Deer as well. 😉

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    1. I didn’t know deer ate potatoes either until we let Daisy in the garden last year. She was very efficient at digging with her little hooves! I started raising potatoes 3 years ago. They’re fairly easy. You just need to hill them up a bit to prevent them from being exposed and turning green from too much light. I generally research everything I plant, making sure what I’m putting in is condusive to the heat and humidity in our area. I highly recommend those Cobblers and the Kennebec’s for a white potatoe and the Pontiac’s for a red tater. I generally have great luck with Candy Red onions and Texas Sweets, but this evidently was a poor year for onions. I didn’t end up with many and they were all small.

      I can well imagine hiking and biking would be sweltering this time of year in the area you live in! I just read the book, “Wild”, by Cheryl Strayed, a novice hiker (actually she had never backpacked in her life), who takes on hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in CA, OR and WA. I think I could take our hot climate long before I could do a trail like that in rain and snow with freezing temps at times. It’s a good read.

      You take care too! And don’t worry about Daisy… she has several shady spots in the woods, and if all else fails I put the sprinkler on for her and she plays in that to cool off. Can you say SPOILED??

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      1. I’ll take the tater tips and give them a shot next time. I’ll have to put a deer playing in a sprinkler right up there with deer eating potatoes. 🙂 You’ll have to share a few photos of that. I’m sure it’s a hoot to see.

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  9. I am so glad I caught this post. My Dad’s family comes from Maine…. when I grew up we never ate any potatoes except Kennebecs.. For years now I have not been able to find Kennebecs anyplace in the stores… and I mentioned to a friend that next year I was going to plant my own potatoes and finally fill this desire of mine for a good old potato that tastes the way it should taste. Since I grow everything in clothes baskets my friend was skeptical, but in a week or two all of a sudden I found three large containers with good potato loam in them and three seed potatoes to plant! Kennebecs. I have been delighted to see how huge the plants have grown and how well they have done so far…I’ve hilled them up a couple of times… but have no idea when I should dig them out. I read somewhere to wait for the flowers… but I have a feeling I should google the information. I can not wait to taste a real Kennebec… and I hope this is one garden venture that does not fail. My groundhogs have pretty much helped themselves to everything else but they’ve left the potato vines alone so far.
    This is a wonderful post… and I can’t tell you how much encouragement you’ve given to a novice potato gardener…

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    1. See!! You have a green thumb for potatoes!! Isn’t it exciting to see something flourish and produce when you were just trying something new? Every year I try some new vegetable that I haven’t planted before. Sometimes I have good luck and sometimes not. Sometimes I like the taste of a new vegetable and sometimes not. And then of course, sometimes a plant I love, like brussel sprouts, fails for me year after year. It gets bugs just about the time it’s ready to harvest. This year I didn’t plant any. I gave up. There is just something wonderful about having a garden, and being able to put something you nurtured, on the table!

      If you can’t find Kennebec’s next year, let me know! I’d be glad to send you some! I can always locate seed potatoes here. I usually get them at a farm store but this year my local grocery store had several varieties which is how I came across the Cobblers. I’d never even heard of them.

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      1. I can’t grow any of the brasicas…(cabbage types) … as the bugs eat them right to the ground. This year I tried kohlrabi…they put up a gorgeous bunch of leaves while it was too cold for bugs, but the first warm days saw them disappear!

        Next year I’ll look for “Cobblers” too… I see old varieties listed in Seedsavers often. Wish I lived in a place I could grow a real garden though.

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    1. Aw, thank you Rachel. It’s nice to hear so many wonderful comments about my posts. I just look at the little things in a day that make it special. Daisy surely is special! She is here most evenings… sometimes we see her in the early mornings. I usually spend at least an hour with her each day. She seems to enjoy the attention we give her!

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    1. Thanks for visiting! When we lived in town I didn’t have much space for a garden either. I managed to plant a few things in the flower beds. This 10 acres gives us a lot of room, but the soil is very sandy and with this heat it doesn’t take long to scorch everything! It’s difficult to have the perfect garden. I have friends who raise herbs in the house. I never was any good at that. I keep my herbs all around the house for easy picking when I’m cooking and baking. I hope some day you have some room to garden! It is a lot of fun, and very rewarding!

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  10. Daisy is too sweet. I had a farm in South Africa, where one lot of my rescue animals I helped, were orphaned baby springbok. I be doing a post on them in the future. Daisy just reminded me so much of them.

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    1. I am glad you enjoyed reading about Daisy. She was such a joy to raise. This morning as I looked off the back porch, Daisy was with a doe and its fawn. Of course the doe hoofed Daisy back a bit from time to time, but Daisy is learning the way of the deer and is being allowed to hang around the wild deer a bit. It is so rewarding to know she can both be a part of her wild kind, and also continue her bond with the “people” herd. Thanks for visiting!

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  11. All chopped up and salted/peppered, laying there is a big pan of Crisco under high heat … As Paula Deen would say … that is just yummy.

    Good post

    Don

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  12. Love your posts! I adore gardening, animals, and nature! I love your pictures you post, too! Thank you for your lovely articles, and God bless you!

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  13. Those darn Yukons. Yep, be sure to plant more Cobblers and Kennebecs next year.

    See, it looks like I know what I’m talking about. Of course, I don’t.

    Another wonderful post. BTW, at first I thought you were feeding Daisy chocolate chip cookies. Yeah, I’m losing it.

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    1. Aha!! You looked at the pictures first, didn’t you? If you’d read the title it says POTATOES!! But to be fair, at a glance the taters do look a little like cookies! Daisy has never been fed people food. Now, my little dogs… well, that’s a whole different story!!

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      1. I saw the title, but they still looked like yummy choc chip. Maybe I was just seeing a cookie oasis! hehe

        BTW, what is your sister’s or SIL’s blog URL? I commented on a couple of posts, but lost the thread.

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  14. Today I sent a link to this post to my wife who loves hearing about Daisy. This is what she wrote me back……”That’s so sweet. She’s a good writer, too.”

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  15. Thank you Mike! You always say the nicest things (and your wife too)! It really gives me the boost I need to get excited about making time to write another post!

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  16. That’s my one problem with deer in the garden, they don’t share very well and are piggy-content to eat it all. I see 108 degree heat is expected this week. Stay cool and hopefully the rest of your garden will survive.

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    1. Everything is looking fairly scorched but I keep watering… hoping! Daisy is quite fond of the tomatoes, but we have everything fenced off so it’s safe. She, of course, gets the discards and smaller tomatoes! Thanks for commenting! You keep cool too!

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    1. Thank you Margaret! I feel very blessed to live here and have the opportunity to observe and work with wildlife. It has taught me to live in the moment and find happiness in simple things. Daisy deer has indeed, changed our lives.

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