The Untimely Arrival of the Honey Wagon…

My husband, FD, announced last night that he and his friend Hoot would not be working on the cabin this weekend. In my last post, “How I Lost My Husband to An Old Wooden River Bridge”, I lamented a little about spending so many weekends alone over the past year, while FD and Hoot worked at building their cabin. So, I was elated last night to hear that he would have this weekend free. Maybe FD and I could actually spend a couple of mornings sleeping in late and relaxing in the pool during the afternoons.

This mockingbird made regular stops at the blackberry patch.
This mockingbird made regular stops at the blackberry patch.

This morning, I found myself waking up at my usual 5:30, then 6:00, and 6:30, each time checking the clock and thinking it must be time to get up. Sometimes, it is tough to shake the farm girl habits I grew up with. I was always an early-to-bed and early-to-rise kind of person. FD is the opposite. He can be a night owl and likes to slumber until late in the morning. When the phone rang at 7:30 this morning, I finally decided to get up. It was my youngest sister, Jules, on her way home from working as a Registered Nurse on the night shift at the hospital. It is quite common for her to call me on her thirty-minute drive home.

Both adult and juvenile robins seemed to be the biggest threat to the blackberry crop!
Both adult and juvenile robins seemed to be the biggest threat to the blackberry crop!

IMG_9493By the time FD arose today, I had most of my morning chores done. Daisy deer had come for an early morning visit, during which I fed her an ample handful of cherry tomatoes and a cucumber from the garden. After giving me some loving licks, she seemed anxious to be off to the deep woods, likely to feed her doe fawn, Spirit. Besides, the mosquitoes were getting the best of both of us. So, I bid her a good day and headed up the hill. Making my way back in the house, I found FD just brewing his first cup of coffee.

Once back in the house, I fixed a nice egg scramble with all sorts of vegetables from the garden. These days, I had to get creative with egg dishes, since our hens were producing mass quantities this summer. Usually, in the hot summer months, egg production cuts way back. For whatever reason, that was not so this year!

The old "pie tin" scarecrow trick did not scare birds, nor did the fake raptor on a pole.
The old “pie tin” scarecrow trick did not scare birds, nor did the fake raptor on a pole.

The morning was starting out cloudy and breezy. While we decided to spend the day in the pool, it was still too early to begin that leisurely activity, and since cloud cover prevailed, FD offered to help me dig up the remaining two rows of potatoes in our garden. I was happy about that. Digging potatoes is back-breaking work for one person!

After digging all the potatoes and laying them to dry on the picnic table, FD and I took the Bad Boy Buggy out for a drive around the property and through the woods. Down in the woods, the mosquitoes attacked us with a vengeance and it was not long before we sped back up top. Once there, FD asked what else he could do to help me outdoors. Was there something that needed fixing? I pointed out our pathetic bobble-head owl, perched on a pole near the blackberries. His head had been knocked askew for several weeks. Any bird would know it was not a real owl just by the looks of that upward cocked head, stuck in an abnormal position. What I suspect had happened to our fake owl, was an attack from a Barred Owl from the woods.

The bobble-head owl, perched high above the blackberries. This fake owl seemed to be the best defense in the blackberry patch.
The bobble-head owl, perched high above the blackberries. This fake owl seemed to be the best defense in the blackberry patch.

Perhaps I should back up here a minute and explain why we have a fake owl. You see, when the blackberries began ripening in early July, birds of all sorts began eating them! We tried several tactics to ward them away, but nothing worked. Finally, FD’s sister, Sissy Jo, came up with the idea of posting a larger bird of prey in the area. She found this bobble-head owl at one of her local stores and sent it to us. At first, I was not convinced this tactic would work, but I have to admit that after we put the bobble-head owl up in the middle of the blackberry patch, damage from area birds decreased tremendously. In fact, it let up enough to give us about a quart of big, beautiful blackberries every couple of days. I was elated! Then one night I heard a Barred Owl hooting from a tree just off the back porch. I had never heard an owl so close to the house before. The next morning, the bobble-head owl was all askew on the pole he was mounted on, and his head was cocked at an odd angle with the eyes looking skyward. Naturally, I suspected an attack!

The bobble-head owl keeping watch over the blackberries.
The bobble-head owl keeping watch over the blackberries.

FD’s repairs of the bobble-head owl, left our friend perched high on a new pole, head turning normally and looking fierce as ever! Meanwhile, I had gone inside the house to prepare bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches for a quick lunch.

After lunch, we found the sun was now shining brightly and the temperatures were nearing the mid-90 degree mark. With these conditions, the pool was looking mighty inviting. So, FD prepared the floating drink caddie, while I tuned into island music via satellite, getting the volume just right on the outdoor speakers. We quickly launched our floating rafts and perched on top, FD on the lounger, and I on my flat raft, which allowed for maximum sun rays. Digging into the drink caddie, we each popped open an ice-cold beer and savored that first refreshing sip of golden lager.

And then, just as we were getting comfortable in the pool, we heard this horrible, loud roar of a diesel engine… from the Honey Wagon.

The noisy, smoke-billowing, Vactor 2100 Series "Honey Wagon". Notice the unfortunate guy in the white shirt who is spending his Saturday sucking sewage.
The noisy, smoke-billowing, Vactor 2100 Series “Honey Wagon”. Notice the unfortunate guy in the white shirt who is spending his Saturday sucking sewage.

For the past week, I had noticed city workers had been dealing with trouble from a sewer line in the alley just south of our house. I had observed them digging in the alley, and occasionally the Honey Wagon was dispatched to help. When this was necessary, the big Vactor 2100 truck would pull up revving its loud diesel engine. As it approached, workers yelled instruction, and soon the giant suction arm moved up and forward. More yelling ensued and the giant arm was guided down into the manhole. Always, one poor fella had to stay with the sleeve that reached down into the depths of the manhole, where I suppose the “honey-colored” waste lay awaiting collection. Each time the Honey Wagon showed up, the wind from the south would carry the horrid stench directly north in the direction of our property, our house, and our pool.

I supposed, incorrectly, that the sewer project would come to a stop over the weekend. But, as I heard the mighty Vactor 2100 once again kick into suction mode, and saw the black smoke billowing from the machine as it sucked raw sewage from the manhole, I realized that the city sewer system still has to work on the weekends… and so did that poor fella who was kneeling down near the sleeve of the giant arm. FD and I just laughed, as I got out of the pool to turn the music up a little louder. I was determined that the Vactor 2100 and its wretched smell were not going to spoil my relaxing afternoon with FD! And, in no time, the noise and the smell were gone, and FD and I were left floating in blissful happiness, without a care and the world, listening to Jimmie Buffett sing about the last mango in paradise… and paradise it was…

Our view from the pool, of the commotion from the Honey Wagon in the nearby alley.
Our view from the pool, of the commotion from the Honey Wagon in the nearby alley.

© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


48 thoughts on “The Untimely Arrival of the Honey Wagon…

  1. I’d been wondering about Daisy’s fawn and if she’d given birth yet – how old is Spirit now?

    Our garden has been quite productive this summer too; the other day I made my first ever home-grown pickled red cabbage, after two previous years of abject failure – they seem to take one look at my ugly mug and bolt like crazy, haha! I’ve also made this year’s first batch of home-grown chilli courgettes (which I can usually do every summer, but last year the courgette crop didn’t want to know).

    Your Robins are so different to ours! A quick search reveals that they’re not related to each other at all, but I can see why your guys are called Robins on account of their colourful plumage. We have a juvenile visiting the garden now, and are hoping that it can avoid the Sparrowhawk (shouldn’t be a problem, as her hunting skills seem somewhat inept and she isn’t here very often).

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    1. Gemma, I think the photographs are of American Robins. They are usually the first birds we see in the spring in this part of the United States. Is there a link where I can see the robins that frequent your area?

      I wrote about Daisy’s twins which were born June 5th. We are fairly certain that her little buck was taken by a bobcat when he was a month old. Daisy was wounded badly in that battle, but her injuries were mostly superficial, and she’s healing nicely and looking much better. Spirit, her little doe, is doing well. We saw Spirit on her own this evening. She had bedded down this afternoon in the nearby woods, and came out in the evening to wait on her mother to show up. For about a half-hour Spirit waited up near our swimming pool, watching for Daisy to arrive. This seems to be normal activity at the age of 2 months, as last year at this time we saw Daisy with three little buck fawns who spent hours without their mothers. I’m certain Daisy was nearby, but apparently she is allowing Spirit time to herself. Spirit will still nurse for another month before Daisy weans her. Spirit has been eating greens and browse for a month now. She’s growing fast!

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      1. I was actually going to write a post concerning pickling and the juvenile Robin that has just appeared in our garden!

        Somehow I missed the birth and I’m really sorry to hear about the little buck, but I’m glad that Daisy and Spirit are both doing well 🙂

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          1. I’ll try to put up some recipes for you; perhaps I should create a page just for pickling. On the other hand, people might steal any adaptations I make and claim them as their own!

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          2. I totally understand what you’re saying. It really hurts when someone steals something you’ve created and claim it for their own. I’m just fascinated with your creativity with pickling… some vegetables I wouldn’t think to pickle, you do!

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  2. Your decoy owl reminded me of a wooden one I found in Lancaster County, Virginia 1981, my second summer visit, as a student determined to have a summer of adventure.
    My decoy Owl was very heavy, and sat on a real bit of old fence post. My host gave me her old beauty case to carry the Owl, and I almost left it behind as I departed US Customs, having one bag more than my arrival. It graces a shelf in my father’s library in Scotland.
    Your Robins look very different to out Robins…one my father has in his wilderness garden has become hand tame and very cheeky.
    I love all your pictures and stories; Even of the Honey Wagon…continue to develop a great picture of where you live…precious, as I can no longer travel, Thanks x

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    1. Robins are common most of the year around here, though we don’t see as many through the winter months. I always find them a welcome in the spring. The hot summer months we see a lot of juveniles at the bird baths. I am always fascinated to watch them pluck up worms in just the right spot.

      Thank you for your lovely comment, Evelyn. It is always nice to hear that a picture is formed in the mind by reading words. Isn’t it a wonderful thing to meet so many great blogger friends, who can take you all over the world to travel in their little neck of the woods, or perhaps a great city?

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  3. In life crap happens. But do we let it stop us from enjoying a lounge in the pool or abandoning a day of fun. Yes, turning up the music does sometimes help. Never, never let the stink on the wind or the belching black fumes of the loud machines of work and progress get you down. Just put up a good front, sip on that brew and laze about. Eventually things get back to normal, or whatever that might be these days. The story was great, especially the part about the head on the plastic owl. Love the way you explained that distorted twist of the head of a bird of prey, which was astutely perceived by the real birds as being out of the ordinary and thus nothing to fear. It is about your lazy summer day and how good ideas get side tracked but still turn out quite well. We all could find a comparison from our own experiences; but this is your story and a fun sharing at that. Thanks for making today a pleasure to share in your Day as a Farm Girl.

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    1. What a fun comment!! You made me laugh with that first sentence about “crap” happening! Ah, every day has its humor, and every day is grand if we view it as such. We never seem to have a dull moment around here.

      FD and I checked on the owl and it’s head is bobbling nicely in the breeze. He’s doing a good job keeping the thieves away… well, except Daisy deer who takes a nibble of everything that she feels the urge to sample! I do notice that Daisy has to investigate every new thing around here. I’m sure she had to check out the owl at some point too.

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  4. I just laughed when I saw that owl. They’re quite common around the marinas – used in a mostly vain attempt to keep the seagulls, cormorants, sparrows, grackles and such off the boats. The first time one of my customers got one I nearly died. I stepped aboard his boat and that thing turned to look at me. Good gosh!

    Honey wagon caught my eye, too. One of my first secretarial jobs was at the Clay Equipment Company in Cedar Falls, Iowa – makers of smaller honey wagons for farm operations (among other things). They worked with other companies like Harvestore to do turnkey operations as well as supplying smaller farms. It was a good job.

    I do love the robins – but I was surprised, too, to learn how different they are from the British robins.

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    1. That does it! I’m going to have to Google these British Robins and find out how they differ. It’s so interesting to discover differences in other parts of the world.

      I never heard the term “honey wagon” until I moved out here. Growing up on our farm as a young girl, I folks simply called it “septic service”. I’m sure it is a service quite in demand. Possibly since we have a septic tank, we will require pumping service someday as well. I laugh when I see the aerial photos of our property. The lateral lines are the only green area by the end of the summer when the Bermuda grass has gone dormant. Most all winter long the lateral lines are green and lovely!

      Many years ago I had a friend in Boone, IA, and we passed through Cedar Falls on our way to Waterloo. When you mentioned Cedar Falls I knew exactly where that was! That sure was a long drive from southeastern Nebraska!

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  5. There is an old saying that you get better results with “honey” than you do with a stick…not so sure that’s the truth in your case! ;). Never heard them called “Honey wagons” before…here they are “turd trucks” ;). Not so many of them about now as the sewers are well looked after and only we country folk with septic tanks need to take advantage of them when they get too full (ech). All you needed to make your day amazingly complete would be a few real mangoes, alluded to by Mr Buffett himself ;). The brief “stinker” of a morning that you had before your afternoon of bliss in the pool would have made it all the sweeter 🙂 Heres to long days spent together lounging in the pool 🙂

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    1. Fran it has been a wonderful weekend! FD repaired things, he helped with projects I normally do alone, and he was around the house with plenty of hugs and kisses! We really enjoyed the pool yesterday. We were prunes by the time we emerged from the water! And in the evening yesterday, we spotted little Spirit down below by herself. She was waiting on her mama, who was evidently off somewhere for the afternoon. Finally, Spirit came up top and laid down near the pool. In a short time Daisy showed up and Spirit went running to her. It was the perfect ending to the day.

      Oh, you know how American’s always try to put off that prim and proper attitude… if I called the honey wagon a turd truck in this town, I’d get the stink-eye for sure! Personally, I have heard plenty of folks call it a $hit wagon. It is what it is, and as far as I’m concerned, there is no glossing it up! Poop is poop! 😀

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        1. Isn’t it wonderful when we have these unexpected, special times together? I really enjoyed the weekend. It sort of made me feel like “mini retirement” with FD. It is exciting to think about how that will be someday when we can work together here!

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  6. I just want to teleport over to your place right now haha! I love how you do your morning routines early, and then go back in to fix a scrambled egg with fresh vegetables.
    My mom always raised me to not get up on the wrong side of the bed and eat decently before I go somewhere. Even when I visit her now, she’s still usually up before me and if she’s not she absolutely doesn’t mind me waking her up. Even if it’s 3 am.
    That gives me so much energy! I love being around people like that. 😀 Though living here in the city with someone that’s not really like that sometimes works draining, just because it’s the exact opposite. Not that my boyfriend is lazy , not in a bad mood either, but he needs a while to shift into gear. Does that make sense? 😛
    Do you have the same thing?

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    1. Yes! FD is always in a good mood, but as you say, he needs a while to shift into gear! That’s a good way to put it! I was lucky growing up. Mom always woke us with a bright and cheery voice. Sometimes she tickled our feet. I shared a room with 3 sisters, and two were grouchy and the littlest was just a slow starter. My brother didn’t say much, but he got on with the day early like I did . I was the only “morning” happy person. Mom always made good breakfasts to start our day too, and I have carried that on in my life. Always good coffee or tea, and a wonderful breakfast for fuel!

      You just come on over! I’ll make sure Daisy deer and Spirit make an appearance while you’re visiting!!

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  7. I have never heard it called the Honey Wagon. I guess now that I think of it, I don’t have a name for the septic guy. Glad it didn’t ruin your day!! Hoping the owl keeps the birds away!

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    1. I had not heard it called Honey Wagon until I moved to Oklahoma. I suppose if we asked regionally what various parts of the country call the septic service, we might hear all kinds of terms! Oh, and the owl is doing fabulous today. Since FD fixed him, he’s a great sentry perched above the blackberries… and we haven’t had a bit of trouble!!

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  8. What a great weekend en amoureux. I was going to mention European robins, but others have too. They’re around in the winter here and have red breasts. I thought the title was perhaps a little erotic! Obviously not ;).

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    1. Ha Ha!! Oh, you made me laugh! I had never heard of the Honey Wagon until I moved out here. It does sound a bit misleading, doesn’t it? Thanks for a good belly laugh!

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  9. Lori, I think I would have loved such a relaxing weekend. Minus the honey pot truck that is, and that little robin on tippy-toes was adorable! Here the birds ate all my blueberries before I even realized they were ripe, and up at the Mountain Farmlet I had two trees that were dripping full of little pears with reddened cheeks… Yesterday when we were there there wasn’t even a clue that they had existed! NOT A CLUE. Maybe it was the deer? Hm…

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    1. Ha ha!! I bet it was deer! Daisy ate ours last year… and our apples and peaches… and apricots! We didn’t have but a few due to a late freeze, but Daisy managed every one of them! You’ll have to keep a close eye on fruits and vegetables. We decided just to share.

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      1. Lori, when we were in the woods on the trail, we noticed a BUNCH of dead-fall saplings in there. Perhaps I can figure out a way to put them to use as fencing for the orchard? We’ll see!

        The Octogenarian seemed to think that the dear didn’t come around anymore because their corridors were cut down. I haven’t seen them hindered anywhere else where the natural corridors were cut. I think she didn’t see them anymore because she quit vegetable gardening. I believe they do still come round, but perhaps just too early in the morning or else well after sundown…

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        1. Deer are very active at night, and also as you thought, early mornings and at sundown. We almost always see Daisy at first light, and just before dark. Also, sometimes deer blend in so well that we don’t notice them! It would be so magical to have them nearby… of course they do like to eat! We put out Purina Deer Chow, Antler Max WaterShield, which is 20% protein. Daisy loves it and Spirit has just started nibbling on it. We have two other does that come for it too. They seem to know it’s good nutrition for them. Oh, and of course, deer LOVE corn!

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  10. Such an interesting story! absolutely, you have a full relaxable and enjoyable weekend. all the pictures looking nice but 2nd click is just amazing. really, the blackberry is one the most favorite food of the birds.

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    1. I did not know the blackberry was a favorite of the birds, but after this year, I’m convinced you are correct!! LOL I don’t mind sharing. I still managed to pick enough for some good blackberry cobbler in the winter. Thank you so much for your kind comment!

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  11. Not knowing what to expect, I had to laugh when I finally learned what the honey wagon is.

    Rats, though. I’ve missed much in the month (or two?) I’ve been away from everyone’s blogs – most of here from the sounds of it. I think I knew Daisy had twins, and even knew from you that two is unusual for a first time deer mother, but missed everything since then. So sorry about the little fella – that must have been hard to take, even for you who knows very well how nature works. Spirit is a terrific name for a doe, and I must go back to read about her.

    How do you get the owl up on that pole? I’d say there’s no way you would get me up there, but after my recent ziplining adventures I seem to be in a bit of a fear-facing mode. Perhaps that height wouldn’t bother me now? Mmm, no. I’m confident it still would. 🙂

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    1. Ha ha!! We just have zip ties holding the pole to a post, so to get it down we just cut the zip ties, and strap new ones on when we want to put the owl back up. I’ll probably take him down from the blackberries now and put him in what is left of the tomato garden. Though I think it’s grasshoppers getting the tomatoes. I’m not sure they will be scared by the owl… but you never know.

      Yes, it was hard to watch Daisy look for Rowdy. It went on for a week or more. Spirit is really growing. We called her Spirit because she has a lot of spirited running and kicking up her hooves! Rowdy was named so because he never listened to Daisy. He took off all of the time and she had to chase him down. He wouldn’t stay bedded down either… always up snooping around. Likely, it’s what cost him his life. Daisy is looking better. Her hair is growing in the bald patches, and her scars are almost gone. I was just outside with her and Spirit before dark. Always a special time with her… and then the darned mosquitoes moved in! Blasted pests!

      I’m glad you’re having some fun. Not sure I’d ever be game to zipline. I’m afraid of heights, and zinging along up high with no control… well, you are much braver than I am!!

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  12. I was reading your comment on Mouse’s page and just thought I would pop over and say well done for growing organic eggs. I cannot find any organic feed around here, having to truck it in by the pallet load from another state is way beyond ken so I just wanted to say well done and I DO know how hard it is to grow organic eggs. My layers and broilers (soon) are all out on the grass for half the day and have GM free hay in the winter so I just have to take heart in that. My beef and lamb is all organic as I can grow them without grain. But it is good work. I love to grow my own food. And now I want a bobble headed owl for my grapevines! What an excellent idea! c

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    1. Thank you so much Cecilia! I love growing my own food too. It’s discouraging that “organic” is so expensive and difficult to find. I hope that one day it won’t be so difficult, and I hope that people will be more conscious about food choices and health.

      I think my sis-in-law got the bobble-head owl at Walmart, but the Walmart here is smaller and they did not carry them. The one I have is by a company called Dalen Products. I think it ran about $25.00. I move it around a bit, from blackberries to various tomato patches. That way it looks like it’s on patrol!!

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      1. I am definitely going to get the first one i see.. I also heard that hanging cd’s from the wires so they turn and reflect the sun scares birds off too. I need to get onto that too but noone is prepared to scrifice any of their music for Wine! What are they thinking. So when you are you done with Mr Buffet maybe you could let me know! Laugh!! c

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        1. I tried the pie tins, which is similar to the CD’s flashing in the sun, and it didn’t work at all. In fact the birds would land right next to them as if it did not bother them a bit! I say get one of those bobble head owls. Of course with our Daisy deer, the owl does no good. Daisy did notice the owl, but it only made her curious. She did not fear it!

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          1. That’s a Purple Martin house pole. We got rid of the Purple Martin house, but the tall pole sure came in handy for this project! You can steal any of my ideas! I’m a common sense kind of girl… in this case – think like a bird of prey! 😀

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