Waste ‘n Management

I can't even bear to tell y'all what this is here. You're gonna have to read about it for yourselves.

I can’t even bear to tell y’all what this is here. You’re gonna have to read about it for yourselves.

It ain’t always easy, bein a brave horse, despite what some folks think. Even the bravest ranch horse may not want to be brave sometimes. He may be shakin from the tips of his ears to the bottom of his hooves, even if you can’t always see it directly as a person, with your tiny li’l people-eyes. It don’t matter whether what a horse is faced with — if it’s a real scary, maybe slippery deep arroyo he’s got to cross in order to get someplace where he’s needed on the ranch, or the sudden sight of a pack of beady-eyed stinkin javelina-pigs when he comes around a bend through some brush. Or, here on the County Island, if it’s a great, big rumbly-truck that’s called a garbage truck.

Mostly, they rumble on past us on the roads where the people-cars and rumbly-things run, and it’s all cool. Well, unless they sound off with their hissy-squeal, which is called “hittin their air breaks.” That sound can startle a horse as bad as a rattle from a snake or a squeal from a pig, and it sounds like the two of ‘em put together in one critter, which ain’t right, and they smell worse than pigs, too. Sometimes they even fart a foul gas from their hindquarters. Apologies for bein indelicate. So a garbage truck is kind of a distasteful critter in general, but like the rattlesnakes and the javelina-pigs, we got to learn to give each other some space and thusly get along.

In particular there was one day when I learned why a horse ought not to trust ‘em even though he’s got to live with ‘em. Also, livin with don’t got to mean likin. On that one day, I learned what it is they really do here on the County Island. Some of you more sensitive or flighty, hot-blooded types might want to hoof it and come back to my story-tellin another time.

We was headin down the road, and I heard the big ol’ rumbly-garbage truck comin. Mostly what I been trained up to do in such situations is stop off to the side, and wait ‘til he passes. It’s a good trick for a horse to know, and for a person to know to teach to a horse. Rumbly sound means whoa. It teaches a horse there ain’t no reason to panic. Ya stop, ya wait, then ya move on, “no problemo” like we used to hear back at the ranch.

We stepped aside and I stopped to wait with all my usual patience. But instead of rumblin by, the garbage truck rumbled right up beside us. He was after the garbage cans damned near right next to us — pardon my french. The bucket gal’d picked the absolute wrong place to park me and I didn’t have nowhere else to go! The garbage truck was blockin the tiny ranch road which is called a “drive way” right in front of where we stood. And he wasn’t fixin to move nor to give us some space to move away, neither. We’d have to wait right next to him while he did whatever he was gonna do. I might’ve overheard some people-french from the bucket gal as she swung out of the saddle lightnin-fast. It was gonna be so bad, whatever it was, that she had to get off me for it, and hold my reins, and pet my neck. Aw, hell…

I never saw what garbage trucks DO before, nor did I ever care. It ain’t got nothin to do with feedin horses, nor waterin horses, nor halterin horses, nor feedin us, so why would I?

The truck squealed and farted at us, and then he grew long front legs that reached down from way on up high above his own head, and he stuck the biggest claws I ever seen straight into the sides of the garbage can. And then he lifted that helpless garbage can straight up into the air. And he turned it upside down. And then he shook out all its entire guts and laid waste to all its innards.

I jerked sideways and my eyes went real wide. I couldn’t help myself no matter how bad I tried to stay still. The bucket gal told me it’s OK, whoa and easy, and kept strokin my neck. Now, I been broke to death, and I’ve worn a lot of wet saddle blankets. I also been bomb-proofed by the horse police. But none of that was ever like this.

Finally the giant truck-claws took the poor garbage can and set it back on the earth where I always see it stand before, doin nothin, not botherin nobody. Only now, it was entirely emptied out and hollow inside its body like a old, dried-out dead thing left for the vulture-birds to pick at. And then the garbage truck farted at us again, and then he squealed off to rumble back down the road. The bucket gal led me in search of a big rock she could stand on to get back onboard, and our ride resumed with no further fuss nor horror.

The point is, a good horse always manages to do his job, even if his job ends up bein watchin a monster-claw garbage truck lay waste to one of a whole lot of unsuspectin garbage cans that live around the County Island. Since the incident, I also heard tell that the garage truck goes around regularly disembowelin all the horse-manure dumpsters the people keep at their ranches, but I aim to manage to never find that out for myself.

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Posted by on May 29, 2015 in Uncategorized


Endurance and Other Tall Tales

One time on the County Island, I met an Ayrab horse (I mean other than my own two sidekicks, Original Coors and Coors Light) who told me the tallest horse tale I ever done heard. We was in the middle of workin cattle, which is to say, playin the stupid County Island cow game called team sortin. I don’t generally like to shoot the breeze when I’m workin, even if I’m only workin within the confines of a 100-people-feet pen that all the cows we’re pennin is already properly penned in. And I find multi-taskin in general’s a real bad idea. But when another horse keeps shootin the breeze at you, a horse can’t help but listen to the wind whippin around his ears.

Chatty Cathy had time to talk on account of, in addition to bein a mare, she was holdin the gate while I did all the work. I was doin all the work on account of if ya want somethin done right, let the ranch horse do it, I suppose, and also on account of ol’ CC’d never squared off with bovines before, and was better behaved lettin ‘em lope past her than she was sortin ‘em herself. It was a downright reasonable strategy her person and my bucket gal devised, for County Island people, even with the part where I had to do everythin. And frankly, her flashy-bright bridle and her whole, entire get-up from her matchin flashy-bright hoof boots to her matchin flashy-bright water-sponge-thing would probably only serve to frighten and scatter the cattle. Why was she carryin a water-sponge-thing, anyhow? Was her person fixin to try to give a cow a sponge bath? That I might like to see.

CC and her person guarded the gate when I was reined into the pen where the cows waited in a cluster.

“Number six!” said the big, loud speaker-voice that tells the people how to count and identify cattle, rather than the proper way by color and size. “Start with number six!”

So we walked in real quiet to Six’s shoulder and nudged her forward. She was a docile li’l brown cow who trotted right in front of me, and stepped nicely past CC and to the other end of the big pen without so much as causin a spook, and she mooed a real nice “thank you kindly, Mr. Horse” to me, too. I liked Six.

“I can trot for 50 miles,” claimed CC out of the clear blue sky as I trotted back past her to go get longhorn Seven. As I hustled the uncooperative brindle cow, I thought to myself, leave it to the horse that ain’t liftin a hoof to boast about how far it can trot. Then how come ya can’t trot 10 people-feet to help me get this critter? And the thought nearly cost me the cow, when the bucket gal brought me up short and gave me a kick to tell me pay attention. Seven got sent past CC so quick she nearly nicked her horns in unsuspectin CC’s hide, and CC’s person let out a screech that actually served to set CC nearly into a spin. There’s no spinnin nor screechin necessary in team sortin.

“Pay attention,” I pinned my ears at her.

“I have friends who can trot 100 miles,” CC pouted as I passed her again.

“Do not,” I wuffled on my way back to the herd. I separated plain black Eight from the herd, though she was doin her best to hide her number behind plain black Two’s hind end.

I sent Eight on over past CC.

“Well, maybe not the whole 100. But they cover 100 miles in one day. My mom wants to do 100 miles with me in the tevis cup!” CC asserted as I brought in sorrel longhorn Nine.

I didn’t have the breath nor the inclination to argue, but I kept my horse-ears on backwards.

CC claimed the cup deal was a race, as I came past her with long and lean, no-horns brindle Zero.

“Thought you rode trails,” I snorted out my nostrils, picturin her racin proper Thoroughbreds at the track like the horses called O-T-T-Bees had told me about, with her short li’l Ayrab mare tail all flagged — and damned if I nearly sorted the big black and white Two cow when I wanted the li’l black and white One cow. I caught myself before the bucket gal did. CC was blowin my proper cow countin concentrative abilities! I trotted One in with an extra crow hop and what may or may not have been an intentional cow kick, aimed in her general direction. It was well worth the light kick the bucket gal gave me.

Now CC was just prattlin and prancin in place. “Oh, I’m an endurance horse!” she shook her head. Well, she surely was testin the limits of my own endurance.

I pushed Two past the gate while she carried on, flingin her neck and swishin her tail and such, and tellin me more about her made-up endurance racin than a horse needs to know.

Endurance was a race but also “to finish was to win,” she claimed, which thusly convinced me further that it was a figment of her Ayrab imagination in which all the purty Ayrabs got prizes just for participatin, such as the load of manure Coors Light’d told me about how Ayrab shows had champions, and also “reserve” champions — which to my proper way of thinkin ain’t champions at all — and also real special winners called “top 10s.” By special I assumed he meant special like those horses who can’t get turned out to pasture without bein covered from hoof to head with special boots and wraps and paddin and such lest they wreck themselves.

And the tevis cup horses had vets on the trails with ‘em all the time to poke and prod at ‘em along the way and stick thermometers up their unmentionable places and generally pester ‘em, which sounded terrible to me.

And they started racin at dawn, and likely raced all day and night, and a lot of ‘em took a whole entire sun-up to sun-up to cross the finish line. That was plain ridiculous. People don’t want to ride across country at night! That’s when all the big, bad critters come out such as the mountain lion-cats and the grumpy bears. Plus people can’t see good at night with their tiny eyes. I never got rode throughout the night back at the ranch pushin cattle. It ain’t sensible nor necessary to get good work done.

We only had three cows to go — I only had two cows to go — wily white Brahma mama Three, Four the doe-eyed Jersey, and scrawny yearlin Brahma Five, who wanted to stay with his Mama Three. And the big loud speaker-voice hadn’t even gave the one-minute warnin yet! We was makin real good time — I was makin real good time! We might win this deal yet, not that the winnin came with anything but braggin rights, not even so much as a long and flappy “top 10” strip of ribbon.

I lined up the last three cows in a real nice row and brought ‘em in right before the speaker-voice yelled “TIME!”

My bucket gal and CC’s lady rider set to whoopin and hollerin and pattin our necks. We won, by way of pennin all 10 of the cattle when nobody else had.

“Thanks, that was fun!” CC flipped her forelock at me and gave me one of those mare-eyed look that might make a lesser geldin, such as Original Coors, melt.

“Yeah, it surely was,” I had to agree. “Thanks kindly for the tall tale.”

“It’s all true!” she neighed at me as she rode out of the pen. “Remember the tevis cup!”

I reckon I’d run my own tevis cup race that day, runnin back and forth catchin all the cows that was already actually caught. It might not have been 100 miles, which ain’t even possible, but it surely felt similar.

Some days, a ranch horse trots a lot more than others, even a mostly retired County Island ranch horse. This was more of a trottin day than a peaceable walkin day, for sure. Also, I finished movin all the cattle, and I won. That therefore fell under CC’s made-up creed of “to finish is to win.” So that was the day I realized I’m an endurance horse! After all, a good ranch horse always endures. I wonder if the tevis cup’s got any grain in it…

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Posted by on May 2, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Cheers to You, Silver Bullet

On account of such numbers seem to matter to the people on the County Island, I thought I might as well tell everybody today’s Coors Light’s bonafide 21st birthday. Why it matters, us horses don’t know, or care, to tell the truth. And I’m 27, so that makes me older and also better.

But still. Happy 21st, buddy. I tease ya without mercy — and make no mistake, you’ve earned it — but there’s only one Coors Light, and I suppose I ain’t half ashamed to call ya my friend.

Cheers to you, Coors Light.

Cheers to you, Coors Light.

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Posted by on April 23, 2015 in Uncategorized


Happiness ‘n Yellow

I ain’t made up what’s called an illustration for a long while now, about how County Island people say a picture’s worth a thousand words. So, instead of tellin a tale for y’all to read, I made this picture of happiness.

Here’s me, and a sweet, blossomy, tasty treat of a palo verde tree.

I call it:

“Happiness ‘n Yellow,

by Whiskey”

It’s likely to be followed by “Itchiness ‘n Yellow” on account of when I eat too many blossoms all at once, I break out in hives like I been stung by a bad bee. But it’s worth it for the very best time of year upon the County Island.

Oh hell, pardon my french… Looks like I done went and made a lot of words when all I meant to make was this picture…

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Posted by on April 9, 2015 in Uncategorized


Cow Catcher

Back at the ranch, we’d go out and move a couple hundred head of cattle from sunup to sundown, from one end of the ranch to the other, likely traversin twenty people-miles to get ‘em all sorted and moved where they needed to be. Movin cattle from one part of the ranch to the other was slow, steady and purposeful, much like myself. Recently, I got loaded into the rollin white horse-box, and I went out and I worked cattle again.

Only this time, we moved ten head. One mile. For three hours.

We moved ten cows that was already properly tagged, branded, castrated, penned AND gentled, back and forth, and then back again, from one end of one tiny pen to the other, for a County Island cow game that’s called team sortin. The most important part of team sortin as far as I can tell is what the people call shootin the breeze, and also trash talkin. The second most important part of it’s called braggin rights. The third most important part may be beer, or maybe it’s the second most important part. I ain’t even sure the cows is a necessary part of it, to tell the truth. Us horses are, ‘cause our saddles give folks a place to sit rather than standin on their own legs while we take a break from pointless cow punchin. Without us, since there IS cattle involved after all, they’d never know which cow to chase or when.

I know how far we worked the cattle for the team sortin game and for how long on account of a horse knows such things from the moment he’d foaled, and also on account of the lady inside the tiny telephone that lives in the bucket gal’s back pocket said so, too. I ain’t never met her, but I’m told she’s got an App. I still don’t know why a person needs to consult with a tiny lady or her tiny Appaloosa inside a tiny telephone to tell ‘em how far and how long they rode a horse, but I guess horses ain’t meant to know some things. How the App got so tiny and inside the telephone to start with, I couldn’t begin to guess. I’ve heard stranger stuff since I came to the County Island. People need their tiny telephones with their tinier Apps to tell ‘em things, and that’s all there is to it. Plus Apps got their App ways.

This is the part where I’m supposed to tell the story. But the whole, entire tale of it is movin cow tails, as it usually is. People like to account for things a lot, so they account for the cows by puttin enormous numbers on ‘em in order to tell ‘em apart, rather than tellin ‘em apart the more sensible way, which is to say, big brindle cow, little brindle cow, black cow, spotted cow, other spotted cow, red cow, other-other spotted cow, and so forth. And then they can hardly see the enormous numbers with their tiny li’l people-eyes, anyhow. And no matter how many times we sort the same damned cows in the same damned number order, the people still often get the numbers wrong. The cattle know which numbers they’re wearin, and they can count as well as horses can. But cows don’t care. They ain’t gonna help, when they know as well as us horses do that there ain’t no point to cow games.

The trick to team sortin is first, not to fear the cattle. A lotta County Island horses ain’t never worked a cow a day in their lives before they get brought to cow games day. Some spook real bad. Some got owners who’re so afraid they might spook real bad that they tie ‘em to the fence to let ‘em think about cows all day before they’ll even place a foot in the stirrup. Some horses appear to stand quietly, but you can tell they’re quakin in their horseshoes at the sight and smell of them ten bad bovines, such as the real sweet western mare who was raised up wrongly to be an english-ridin hunter horse. Despite her rough start, she came around right quick back to her roots when she realized a cow’s got to move the second a horse tells it to move. I likely’ve said it before, but the way the order of the world goes is cows got to take orders from horses, and horses got to take orders from people. I don’t make the rules.

We came in second place, by the rules. We got the most cows, me and the real good Quarter Horse geldin I got partnered up with. Another team got the most cows, too, but also in the least time, and so they got to claim the braggin rights and do the trash talkin. Ya got to go fast to play cow games by the people-rules. On the ranch, speed generally sets cattle into a commotion, which leads to stampedin, which leads to more work and a much longer day, which makes the people, horses, ranch dogs and cattle all grumpier, which ain’t never gonna win nobody nothin.

But as the great cowboy Mr. Ricky Bobby once said, if ya ain’t first, you’re last. I’m entirely comfortable comin in last at cow catchin games. I still got it. I just ain’t got to go fast to prove it to nobody.

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Posted by on March 18, 2015 in Uncategorized


An Eye for an Eye

Kindly look away. This ain't pretty.

Kindly look away. This ain’t gonna be pretty.

Our vet lady’s mare has drunk the cool-aid. That’s about the only explanation I can muster that explains why an otherwise good and level-headed western-broke mare would not only seem to like the sweet-talkin but evil vet lady, but also maybe even like her even more than I like my own bucket gal. I know — crazy talk, from me. My thoughts was directed thusly one time when we went for a trail ride all around the County Island with the two of ‘em. It was after the time when the vet lady brought me a bucket of feed out of the blue, which aroused both my suspicions and also my appetite. So, I was already feelin a bit bamboozled by the vet lady even before I realized she was our ridin partner for the day.

Now, her good, broke mare’s only got one good eye. I noticed it before when she’s been rode by, but it ain’t good ranch manners to ask a one-eyed horse what happened to its other eye no more than it’s been good manners to ask a three-legged coyote if it’s seen any traps lately. A horse can hurt an eye on all manners of sticks stuck out of brush, or even on cactus thorns on accident. Or maybe she got in a bar fight with another horse. It happens. She’s still got the eye, of course, but the inside of it looks like a cloud in the sky and therefore she don’t see nothin out of it but maybe clouds. When she looks at ya, she gives more of a sideways glance, and bats her one good eye at ya purty enough to melt even a crusty old ranch geldin’s heart.

We was bein rode in and out of the washes, going cross-country instead of followin a marked trail, on account of the weather was cool enough for most of the snakes to still be sleepin in their snake-holes. And since the vet lady didn’t have her rumbly-truck which contains all the pokey things she uses to poke and prod at a horse in all his most personal places, and also since it didn’t sound like the vet lady nor the bucket gal was talkin about anythin to do with pokin or proddin at me directly, I stopped botherin to listen to their conversation. And so did the purty one-eyed mare. We set to makin our own small amount of trail talk.

The purty mare was walkin with her neck stretched out and relaxed, her lip droopin in a comfortable sleep-walkin manner, so I indicated with my ears to ask how she could ever relax like that around the sweet-talkin but evil vet lady, given how she’s a sweet-talkin but evil vet lady and all. And the mare raised her good eyebrow and gave me a look to say she didn’t know what I meant. She said, “My mom fixes horses and makes them feel better.”

I snorted hard through my nostrils, pretendin to clear out the trail dust, and indicated that if by better she meant worse, then I’d agree.

But no, she insisted. In fact, one time, she said, she knew another horse who thought sticking a stick straight through his eye would be a good idea, and her mom made the horse feel good as new — by taking out his bad eye completely and “fixing” him.

I stopped cold in my tracks, which earned me a kick from the bucket gal in the saddle. But the mare might as well have kicked me straight in the head, I was thusly stunned.

I asked her, what if she took your own eye out? And she said she supposed her “mom” would know what’s best and if her eye needed to come out, then she would be fixed — and that would be alright.

She went on to describe the things the vet lady, her “mom,” had done to her and her own herdmates over the years, in the name of fixin ‘em. Crackin their own bones, which she called ky-ro-practic. Pullin bad teeth straight out of their heads, which she called dentis-tree. Stickin them all straight full of needles as tiny and sharp as cactus spines, which she called learnin how to do acu-puncture — or, how to puncture a horse with holes on purpose.

Such stuff is condoned here on the County Island!? This was terrible trail talk. In fact, this was a terrible trail ride, which I never woulda dreamed was possible when all a horse is doin in a lot of walkin and nothin for no more than a couple of hours.

I knew right then that mare’d drank the cool-aid. No, I don’t know exactly what that means, but the people say it all the time so it can’t be right. The sweet-talkin but evil vet lady likely fills her horses’ water tubs full up with cool-aid every day and it’s thusly addled this good mare’s thoughts. There ain’t no other possible explanation for why any horse, much less one that’s owned directly by a vet lady, would think for one minute a vet was anythin less than evil, especially when it had seen firsthand such abominable examples with her own one good eye. But, the other explanation was maybe she’d decided it was easier to turn a blind eye toward it all, so to speak. I can understand that real well myself. I do it all the time here on the County Island, and I ain’t got an actual blind eye to blame it on.

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Posted by on March 3, 2015 in Uncategorized


Open Season

I thought we was done with ‘em for good, but a huntin pack always circles back to where there’s easy prey. And to packs of li’ girls, it seems me, Original Coors and Coors Light is easy prey. We ain’t exactly under constant attack from li’l people-girls, but we got a whole lot more of ‘em to contend with than we ever had before in these here parts. We’ve had three visits thus far, which might be three too many. Seems it’s open season on County Island horses.

The third visit brought back those girls who seemingly twitched and bewitched me with their purty, shiny words. We was eatin dinner, which means Coors and Coors Light was locked up in stall-jail and I was still at liberty so that I might savor my very small portion of alfalfa that I get with my dinner hay in peace. Not that they’d ever dare push me off my own feed. Original Coors especially knows what can happen when when ya incite a bonafide Whiskey rebellion. But they stand nearby and squabble non-stop while I’m attemptin to enjoy my alfalfa in a peaceable way. So we was shovelin hay into our mouths, and the bucket gal was shovelin up the remains of our hay, so to speak, when I sensed girls nearby and suddenly one of ‘em spoke up.

“Hello again!” said the bravest of the two people-girls, holdin the fidgety dog’s lead rope. How’d I miss hearin ‘em approach? How’d me, Coors and Coors Light miss hearin ‘em approach? Are we becomin dead-broke to ‘em? “We just forgot your horses’ names!”

And, I had to wonder, how come they needed to remember ‘em?

“Yeah,” said the more skittish one. “We forgot, so we made names up for them.”

The brave one added, and pointed to each of us with a li’l flourish, “So we called them Autumn!” — Original Coors, who I suppose is sorta autumn leaf colored, pricked his ears like he liked that — “Win-ter!” — said in a dreamy fashion I reckon only a li’l people-girl can muster, and Winter, I mean damned snowy white Coors Light, pricked his damned ears — “and Sunny!”

Sunny laid his own ears flat. I mean my own ears flat. Sunny, my a—

“Do they have a lot of adventures?” asked the first one. And the bucket gal laughed and said, why yes, we do. Little does she know!

She don’t know, does she? I might have some explainin to do otherwise.

Coors gave his brother Coors Light a look out of the corner of his eye through the stall-jail bars where they stood next to one another, and Coors Light returned the same look out of the corner of his own eye through the stall-jail bars to Coors, suggestin that maybe there was Ayrab horse adventures or plans for ‘em I’d best not know about.

I shouldn’t want to know about any Ayrab horse adventures, should I? Bein a good ranch horse means mindin your own business.

I was also halfway expectin the girls to ask to saddle up for a ride on one of us, and I expect our bucket gal was, too. But no such suggestion nor invitation was forthcomin. Which is the way I like it. Mostly. Pony rides for buckaroos is one thing. These potentially pony clubbin bouncy shiny huntin critters is another species entirely. It’s best for a horse to avoid new things.

After the see ya laters was said and done, our bucket gal turned and gave me a real funny look. I was ponderin how I hoped that meant it was a lot more “see ya” as in “and don’t come back,” and a lot less “later.”

“Aww, Sunny, look sunnier! They love you!” she laughed at me, and she walked over to me, and reached out as if to scratch that real good scratchy spot right behind my left ear, but instead she took both her people-hands and stood both my ears up to appraise me like a horse auctioneer. And laughed at me again while holdin my ears upright. I turned and stuck my entire head and neck down into my hay feeder so I could go back to eatin undisturbed. But I could still hear her.

“Hi, Au-tumn! Hi, Win-ter!” she was sing-songin as if she herself was a li’l people-girl still. And smilin. It’s a good thing for people to be happy around us horses, so if girls callin us ridiculous names such as Sunny, Autumn and Winter was makin her happy, a horse ought to roll with it. But my ears was still mostly back while I ate my hay.

I didn’t dare look over to Autumn or Winter to see if they’d wiped the smirks off their own horse-faces yet, lest this turn into Ayrab horse ass-kickin season. Pardon my french. A good ranch horse minds his business, and also knows which battles is his to pick and which ain’t. That’s the truth in any season.

I know how this here pig feels.

I know how this here fella feels.

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Posted by on February 18, 2015 in Uncategorized


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