Yearly Archives - 2021

Ham Radio and Emergency Preparedness

I can remember when I was a kid visiting my Great Uncle Joe in Greenwood, Arkansas, who had as a hobby Amateur Radio, also known as "Ham Radio."  I remember strolling past his makeshift closet-turned-radio shack next to his bedroom and hearing all the funny sounds of frequency tuning and voice modulations that sounded to me a lot like the communications I'd seen the movies with airplane pilots.  Or, since I was into Star Wars, it reminded me of  the radio chatter between the X-Wings and Y-Wings during the big Death Star battle.  Those who've seen the movie know what I'm talking about.  It was always intriguing to me.

Uncle Joe would always invite me to sit with him at his desk next to his old Kenwood HF radio (TS-440S for those enthusiasts out there).  Next to that he had his Morse Code equipment, and a map on the wall with thumbtacks identifying all the different states and countries he'd communicated with and would mail his QSL postcards to.  His callsign was “NR5H,” operator class “Amateur Extra.”  If you look up that callsign, I think it’s since been reissued to somebody else, but at the time that was my Uncle Joe.

He always had several friends he'd touch base with every night.  I'm not even sure where they were located, but I know he really enjoyed connecting with them.  Evidently it was something he'd held on to ever since his World War II days as a radio operator.  And, as a kid, it's something that captured my interest too.

Eventually, as a teenager, I decided to study to take the Technician class exam to get my own Ham Radio license.  One summer I went up to Greenwood and spent a couple of weeks with my Uncle Joe, along with my ARRL license manual, for him to tutor me and help me understand the basics.  After that, I passed my exam and got involved with the local Ham club in my hometown.  Whereas my Uncle was into the long range HF bands, all the locals (as far as I was concerned) made use of the shorter range VHF bands, with the repeater towers positioned around the state to bounce off of.

Here I was 17 or 18 years old, hanging out with a bunch of old timers and retirees who would meet up every week at the local Hardy's in Heber Springs for breakfast and coffee to talk radio.  I was by far the youngest guy in the room, but I loved it and soaked up as much as I could learn.

After High School and for the next 20 years after that, the hobby took somewhat of a backseat as I focused on other things—life and career.  But, I was sure to keep my license renewed with plans to one day get back into it.

One of the occasions I’d always pull out my radio for was severe weather.  Being in Arkansas we are in the tornado country, and one of the big benefits of ham radio is the emergency preparedness factor.  Whether that’s storm chasers reporting on real-time conditions of tornadic activity, or, in the aftermath, when phone lines and cell towers go down, it’s the Ham Radio Operators who are able to supply emergency communications to those who need it.  So, that’s one reason I keep my radio nearby.

But also for just emergency communications in general.  As you know, cell service doesn’t extend everywhere.  In fact, I recently went on a backpacking campout with two of my sons and their Trail Life scouting troop.  It was in the Ouachita National Forest, a few hours away from the church where the troop is based.  We parked our vans at the start of a trail off the highway, several miles outside the nearest town, and hiked our 3 miles to our campsite.

There was absolutely no cell service in the spot we were at, with all the high and low terrain.  Before the trip, I went ahead and programmed into my radio the frequencies for the different area repeaters as a just-in-case precaution.  As it turns out, it’s a good thing I did because we experienced our own emergency situation on the trail.

After our first night at camp, one of our boys stepped into a hole hidden beneath the leaves and twisted his leg up pretty seriously, leaving him in no condition to walk.  His troop leaders and fellow student trail men immediately jumped into action and made a stretcher out of a tarp and couple long branches.  The 3-mile hike we made the day before wasn’t level terrain by any means, and at one point required the crossing of a running stream, so they all had their work cut out for them to carry him back out.

In the meantime, while the guys started their hike back to the highway carrying the boy on the stretcher, knowing that process would itself take close to an hour, it was important we try to call for help to meet the guys as they resurfaced from the trail, but, of course, there was no cell service.  So, I pulled out my trusty ham radio, and with another fellow Ham (W4BBU) who had brought his radio, we set out to climb a nearby ridge to try and get line-of-sight signal with one the repeaters.

It took us several attempts and searching for the right spot.  But, finally finding a decent clearing and a fallen tree that we were able to climb to get the best elevation, we made contact with a ham radio operator in nearby Hot Springs Village—147.015 MHz, station W5HSV.  Shout out to K0TXT, Jim, of Hot Springs Village for answering our call for help.  He was able to call dispatch and have first responders meet our guys on the trail before they had even finishing the 3-mile hike back.  They were then able to transfer the boy in the proper vehicle and get him safely to the hospital.  The radio system worked precisely as it needed to.

Then, believe it or not, not a few hours later, another fluke accident happened with another one of the scouts.  This time, while exploring the stream, another boy lost his footing on a slick rock and fell, breaking his arm.  It was totally coincidental and a freak misstep.  Usually, our guys are quite careful and follow proper safety practices.  But, for whatever reason on this trip, we ended up with a second injury in the same day.

Once again, our leaders and trail men jumped into action.  They made a temporary splint and sling out of a few sticks, a piece of hard plastic from the frame of a pack, and some cloth material.  And it’s another hike back to the highway for yet another group, and another hike up the ridge for me and Bill, our other ham.  We make contact again with the local repeater we connected with before.  The radio operator out of Hot Springs Village this time, instead of calling dispatch, served as a third-party communicator and called our Troop Master who was still at the hospital with injured boy #1 to let him know about injured boy #2.  Transportation arrangements were then made for boy #2, and he also was safely taken to the hospital.

Folks, these kinds of things can’t be anticipated, but, with a little forethought, they can be planned for by practicing old fashioned emergency preparedness.  “Be prepared” is the old scout motto.  Actually, the motto for our Christian Trail Life troop is “Walk Worthy,” but certainly walking worthy includes walking in wisdom and good judgment.  And, part of good judgement is planning ahead and even preparing for the possibility of crisis situations.

The examples I’ve given are obviously just a few examples.  There are so many different situations in life that can result in a far better outcome than they would otherwise for those who encounter them when they aren’t totally caught off guard.  In terms of emergency communication, something as simple as a ham radio can make all the difference in coordinating the help that you need.  Of course, in a non-emergency situation, you have to be licensed to use one, but in a true emergency, you don’t need a license.  According to the FCC Rules, Title 47, Part 97, Paragraph 403—

 “No provision of these rules prevents the use by an amateur station of any means of radiocommunication at its disposal to provide essential communication needs in connection with the immediate safety of human life and immediate protection of property when normal communication systems are not available.”

So, there you have it.  Anyone can use a ham radio in an emergency.  Granted, it’s kind of important you know how to use the radio and how to actually make contact with another person.  Often, ham radios have to be programmed in order to connect with area repeaters.  So, my advice is, if you’re going to get the radio, you might as well go ahead and get the license to go with it.

Long story short, ham radio can make all the difference, whether on the trail, or for advance warning of a tornado, or in the aftermath cleanup of a tornado, or a hundred and one other applications.

That’s my plug for ham radio.  It’s a wonderful hobby, and a wonderful preparedness tool to have in your arsenal.

Healing Burns and Wounds with Guest Joy Durand

Amy:   Thank you all for joining me today as I get to introduce to you my favorite herbalist, mother of 8, small business owner, piano teacher, university flute instructor, and older sister, Joy Durand. I've been bubbling over with barely contained excitement at the opportunity to have her on our podcast so she can share with you herself the amazing journey she's been on when it comes to treating her family's health needs using all-natural treatments.  She's my go-to, what I like to call, “walking encyclopedia” when it comes to herbal remedies.

Welcome to the show, Joy!

Joy:  Thanks for having me.

Amy: There are so many different nuggets of wisdom and insight I know you could give us about tinctures and different herbal remedies, but in this episode, I want to focus on the events and the journey that led you to having the miracle Healing Salve in your store and why it's one of the main items you keep inside your family's medical kit.

Joy:    Well, that's a really long story, but I'll try to give you the short version.

So, I guess it all started with Mom getting cancer and then she started researching a lot of natural remedies and such.  And we just kind of jumped on board and kind of went down that road with her as we started having kids.  The more that I read, the more interested I became in a lot of herbal remedies, so I started experimenting and making tinctures and syrups and just trying to see what would help our family the best…what would work what didn't work… was a lot of experimentation and not in a bad way. You know, if they were really sick, we would go to the doctor. But this was, you know, minor things like colds or little bruises.  You know, just the normal things that kind of come with the Healing Salve though we came across that when I was reading some new books that I had gotten a long time ago—Be your Own Doctor by Rachel Weaver.  I've collected all four of her books now, and they have been so invaluable to me and our family.  I'm just so thankful for the blessing that they've been. Just the information that she's provided, and she's been very generous to share. And in her books, she talks about having a first aid kit, or, you know, just being ready being prepared having a medicine cabinet and such. And in 2014 we moved into a camper as a family just because we wanted to travel around the U.S. and see different places.  You know give the kids a first-hand education of history and just the land that we live in—national parks and such.   And before we moved into the camper, I knew that I wasn't going to have my big full kitchen like I do in the house with all my resources, and so I wanted to be prepared for how we were going to be living. So, I made all my tincture syrups and such and got them all prepared and ready for my first aid kit to be in the camper. And as part of that kit, I had some Burn and Wound Salve that Rachel Weaver recommended for burns and wounds. It was then that that we started using it little by little… just minor things like sunburns, you know after hiking at the national parks or such, you know things like that. But I had never really used it on anything serious until about the middle of 2015. At that point we had an accident, a very severe burn on my 5-year-old daughter and that was when we got to see how the Burn and Wound Ointment worked, and it was truly amazing and just a blessing from the Lord.

Amy: Can you tell us what happened when your daughter was burned?  Paint the picture for us what did what did that look like. What happened?  What were the thoughts that went through your head?

Joy:    Well, what happened when the accident happened; basically, she was burned by some boiling water, scalding water. I had just poured two tall thermal, you know stainless steel thermal mugs, with some boiling water because we were going to have tea, and the countertops in a camper are very small, so they were sitting there on the countertops. And at the time we had 7 kids.

The youngest baby was about maybe 5 months old or so, and my 5-year-old daughter was holding him and just, you know, playing around with him bouncing him on her hip there in the little living room.  He reached out to grab one of those mugs, and she spun around trying to protect him from it but in in doing that they got knocked off the counter and they spilled on her.  And this literally all just happened like in one minute, because I had just poured it just in that short amount of time. That's when the accident happened, and it burned the majority of her upper right arm and the majority of her upper right leg pretty much all over.

You know she was screaming quite hard; it was very scary to hear, and it was just horrible.  That's how, I can just tell you it was horrible.  It's not like when your kids just fall and bump their self or fall off their bike or whatever, you know, when they cry like that.  It was worse than that, and so we put her in the bathtub and tried to cool off the burn as much as possible to get that heat out of the burn. We took her pajamas off, and when we did that, the skin just was coming off in layers, just falling right off her arm like a big sheet and off her leg. And there was one spot on her arm that was like a pit. Almost, I think, more like a third degree burn really, because it had gone through several layers of the skin.  I knew that we were looking at something very serious.  I did remember during all that time, you know all that time, it was a very short amount of time—just a few minutes, but I remembered enough to know that I needed to cool the burn.

So that was the first step. And in that amount of time, then I was able to sort of think a little bit about what do we do. Do we go to the hospital? Do we you know try to do something here?  I didn't know at that point because you're just trying to sort things out.  So, I went ahead and grabbed my book off the shelf because I did have my book with me the Be Your Own Doctor book, and I looked really quickly through the burn section.  And you know, there's instructions in there, very good detailed instructions in there, you know here's kind of some guidelines about how to decide whether to seek medical help depending on the percentage of the body burned and just different guidelines that you can look at to kind of assess the situation and that really helped me be able to know what to do.  So, I kind of assessed that maybe like almost 20 of her body had been burned, you know maybe less than that, but it was severe but not so severe that we needed to rush her to the hospital right then and there. I did have a small container, an 8 ounce container of the Burn and Wound Ointment, so we went ahead and got her out of the bathtub—probably about 15 minutes she was in there, and she just got so cold—so we went ahead and got her out, gently patted her dry, and slathered that Burn and Wound Salve on her.  And at that point, she did stop crying, because the salve really it helps the pain go away within 30 seconds.  I mean it really decreases it to the point where you have comfort and you're soothed even though I'm sure there's still pain there. I can't imagine.  I've never been burned that badly, but it was soothing enough that she stopped crying.

During that time my husband had gone and run to the store for bandages and got some non-stick bandages, and we wrapped her up, and she went to bed for the night.  Of course, I didn't go to sleep very well because I was worried about her and wanted to keep checking on her and making sure she was okay. I also, you know during that time, we wanted to be careful and make sure that she didn't get an infection or get dehydrated or have any of the signs of shock or anything like that, because those, especially infection, is a number one complication of burns.  So, we were ready and alert to just go to the hospital whenever we needed to, but we wanted to try this gentle way of healing.  And I can tell you, it was a huge blessing both for us and for our daughter, because she was able to heal in a much more painless way, I believe, than if we had had to do the hospital procedures.

Amy: Can you tell us how did you actually go about treating the burns after you saw and you were able to ascertain the severity of it how much of it had been, you know, covering her arm and leg?  What did you end up using in order to keep the infection at bay?

Joy:    We went ahead and called a store in the Amish community in Pennsylvania, and we ordered a half gallon of salve and burdock leaves—some dried burdock leaves, and talked with them about this treatment protocol that we had learned about in the Be Your Own Doctor books. They had been through it several times through just different accidents that had happened in their community, so they already had more of an awareness of what to look for and how things should be progressing as she healed. They were a huge help!  We got those supplies from them—we got them overnighted, and we started using them.  We would change the dressing twice a day every 12 hours.  When we would do that, we would lay gauze pads— clean sterile gauze pads—on the wound or the burn, and then we would gently pat them and then gently lift them up.  And this was to clean away any dead skin.  Sort of similar to what they do in the hospital with the scrubbing with the antimicrobial soap.  Instead, we were just doing it gently and not scrubbing.  We wanted to get that decay off of there without having to be rough on the skin, on the wound, and so we would do that.  And then we'd spray it with Colloidal Silver to cleanse it. We wanted to do that instead of the peroxide, because peroxide stings so badly, and we just wanted to do something that would cleanse it without being damaging at the same time.  And so, we're just very careful with this gentle situation on her skin.

And then after that, we would again lay some gauze on there, another clean sterile piece of gauze, gently pat it, lift it off, make sure that it's getting any residue left behind just to get anything off of there; and then we would reapply more salve— a very thick layer about an eighth inch, maybe even a quarter inch because I like to be very liberal with it. But we would slather that all on, and then we would wrap that with some re-hydrated burdock leaves which also help in covering the wound instead of covering it with gauze that would, you know, pull maybe be a little bit more harsh on the wound.  These leaves are very gentle, and they hold the salve there to the skin.  And then when you take them off at the next dressing, then it brings that dead skin away off of the burn.  And so we would lay that on there and then we'd use some chuck pads cut up and wrap that around it to have some kind of an encasement, and then, you know, wrap that with gauze to tie it all up into a neat little package.  So, we would do that twice a day.  And when we would go through that process, I washed my hands probably five times between each step, because I wanted to make sure anything that I touched was clean and sterile, and that I wasn't transferring any type of bacteria between the tools, the scissors, the stirring knife, or, you know, anything that I was touching.  I didn't want to take any chances on any kind of infection getting into her body.

Amy: How long would you say it took for the burn to heal and was there a lot of scarring when you were using the Healing Salve, Burn and Wound Salve?  How effective was it?

Joy:   Well, she healed very rapidly in less than two weeks. It was very quick, and the scarring really, you know, you can't tell that she had a burn.  You know initially when she was burned, the skin looked brown.  I guess, you know, it wasn't black like what a fire would do, you know, charring the skin; but it was brown, a dark brown. And then as she healed, those new layers of skin just grew on top and became smooth as if it had never happened. They became smooth—for a while you could kind of see a border line of just color kind of variants between where the edge of the burns were—but they were still pretty much the same color as her skin. And now I can hardly even tell!  And the only place that I can tell there was a burn is the place where she had about that quarter size third degree burn that was a deep hole.  And now it's not a hole, it's not a pit at all.  It filled in from the bottom up with new skin growth, new tissue, and it grew all the way up to the top layer of her skin.  And so that area is completely smooth.  The only thing that you can tell is it's white; it doesn't have the color pigment of the rest of her skin so it just looks like pure white skin.

Amy: So, it pretty much proved how effective it is as a burn salve.  But as the years went by, how would you describe your experience using it then for other purposes?

Joy:    Well, I think we might be prone to accidents in our family. I don't know…I'm not sure, but a few years ago our son, who is probably about 9 at the time, we had just gone swimming, and we were racing back to the house down the road.  We had been in a neighbor's house.  And so we were racing back down the road, and, you know, our road we live on a hill so it kind of goes downhill.  He was going as fast as he could, and he fell.  And when he fell, he hit the asphalt with his knee right above the kneecap.  His whole body just hit in that one place. All that force in that one place, and it made a huge wound—I would say about maybe two inches wide open and then two inches across maybe three quarter to an inch deep maybe, because it was so deep, I felt like I was looking down in it like not being able to tell what I was looking at down there, because it did not look like the top layers of skin.  So it was yucky. It was very ugly.  You know, we first immediate reaction was, “Oh, we have to go get stitches!” because I thought, I don't know what we can do about this.  We've got to go stitch it up and close it up.

So he was sitting on the edge of the bathtub cleaning it out.  You know, I've taught the kids, you know, you need to clean your wounds, and, you know, make sure there's no rocks or anything in there because they've fallen off their bikes and stuff a bunch of times.  And so, we were just looking at it trying to make sure there was no foreign objects in there.  And really the bleeding was surprisingly minimal from what I remember.  So anyway, we were doing that, and I had immediately gone and said to my husband, “We have to go get stitches,” and then I started trying to think what do I have here that could work in the time being.  You know, what could we use?  And then I remembered the Burn and Wound Ointment. I don't think it immediately came to my mind, because I was so used to the burn experience and that idea of just using it for burns, but it is useful for so many things.  Since then I've used it on diaper rashes with great success, and I know people use it on chapped lips and sunburns and all— it's just a great first aid ointment—bruises, just all kinds of things.  So anyway, we got the Burn and Wound Ointment out, and we packed his wound with that.  This time we did not use burdock leaves, we just used non-stick gauze pads and then wrapped gauze around, but we did change his wound twice a day.  We did the dressing twice a day, every 12 hours, and we just followed the same method.  We just made sure everything was very clean, my hands were clean, all the time between touching anything, you know, sterile, and you know the tools, just everything was kept very clean.  And then we used the same Colloidal Silver to clean the wound out.  We would use a clean piece of gauze to gently pat on there and lift it off. So, it was really the same type of principle. And what happened with him is it took a longer amount of time to heal. I believe because the wound was so deep and possibly maybe, because we didn't use leaves. I don't really know for sure if that had anything to do with it because the burdock leaves really do help heal along with those properties that the leaves have as well.

It took about a month and a half to heal, but it was so much fun seeing how the wound would get smaller and smaller every few days.  It was like, it was just amazing! It would close itself up little by little.  I wish I had a time-lapse video; it would be so neat to watch something like that.  It just little by little closed itself up as if he had stitches, and it brought itself together into this incision.  It looks like he just had this incision, so he has a scar, he has a line of a scar, but he does not have those scars that you get from stitches —you know all those little holes that you get on both sides of an incision because of where the stitches were—he doesn't have any of that.  It's just a nice clean scar.  He's done well with it.  It's been really good!   And since then, we've used it on bad finger cuts and bruises just anything that we need it for first aid.

Amy: So, we've mentioned burns, we've mentioned severe wounds, we've mentioned sunburns. Also, I think even from our own personal experience that dreaded hill the same one that your son tripped on my son, my youngest, had an experience with that.  And boy, he had a goose egg on his forehead. And I'll never forget bringing him in and sitting him on your counter, and here comes Aunt Joy with her medicine kit.  And you whip out that, you know your Healing Salve, and some big ol’ bandage, and well you lathered it up and covered it with a bandage.  And less than 24 hours later you couldn't even tell that there was anything there.  There was hardly a bump; the bruising, the dark color that had started forming when he had first fallen, it was a faint greenish yellow as if it the bruise itself was over a week old.  It truly is what people call it like the, you know, “liquid gold” or “the miracle salve” is what I've heard some customers of yours calling it. And they're absolutely right!

But speaking of all the different names that we call this, just to clarify, I know at the beginning we call it Healing Salve and then you've been telling the story and calling it Burn and Wound Ointment.  How did this all come about?  Are we talking about different things, or is it all one in the same?

Joy:    Well, they are the same stuff, and I'll tell you, I want to tell you too a little bit about this salve. The salve the foundation of it is honey, and it's an important ingredient in it because honey is antibacterial, and it's very nutritive.  It speeds up healing so one of the things that it does is that because it absorbs water, it takes water out of the surrounding bacteria and that bacteria dries up.  So, the bacteria can't live, can't grow, it can't multiply so easily in that kind of environment.  And then the glucose in honey converts to hydrogen peroxide, which is just amazing to me.  So, we have this cleansing quality in the honey that's, you know, we first have the wound kept from infection, and then we have the wound being cleaned by the honey, and then the honey also has tons of vitamins and minerals and things that help the new skin to be growing.  So, we have all that going on.  And then in addition to that, we have all these other herbs that are in the in the Healing Salve that help with so many different things.  You know the comfy root it helps that cell regeneration it just it puts it on high speed and promotes it to happen very rapidly.  So, we have that and then there's other herbs in there that help to shrink the inflamed tissue and to strengthen the new cell growth. Then, like for example, the lobelia in there. Lobelia is great for pain relief and for just relieving sore muscles and different things like that. The addition of lanolin into the Healing Salve is what keeps the salve from just melting and running off your skin.  So, that's really important too. And then we have the other oils like the wheat germ oil, olive oil, all these other things are to help prevent the scarring which the honey also does too.  And so, it's so neat how a wound can or even a burn, a third degree burn even, can start this new tissue growth from the bottom of the wound inside and build itself up all the way to the top again.  And because of this, that's how we have found that this has been such a great salve to use, and we've used it for so long now, I guess maybe 8 I don't know 8 years maybe almost now.

But what we did is last year since we've loved it so much and just seen such amazing results, we wanted to make this available to those around us to our people locally, friends, businesses and get them to where they could have access to it and use it and have good results with it as well.  And so, I contacted the manufacturer, and this is made by the Amish community, and they've been so kind. They have allowed us to resell their product, and they are re-labeling it for us with our business name and just the name Healing Salve so they are one in the same product.  I would be happy if anybody got it from either place because it's just so wonderful, and everybody should have it in their medicine cabinet.

It's just, it's truly a blessing to be able to have something that works, and you know, it saves you money in the long run really, because, you know… To give you an example, that whole two-week treatment that we used for the burn, the severe burn on our daughter, it only cost us $500.  That included all the bandages, and at that point, my husband was going to stores that sold surplus bandages or you know bandages in bulk medical supply stores where he could get it cheaper. And so all of that put together was only about $500. You know, it's it makes a difference when you can treat something on your own, and of course, we're always ready to seek help when needed.  And that's the blessing too, that we can do that when needed.  But I just want that to be available to people, and that's how we came across it and where it comes from.

Amy: Joy, thank you so much for taking time today to share with us such great information. I seriously cannot wait to have you back with us again!

For all our readers out there, I hope this episode was a help to you in some way.  If you'd like more information about Joy Durand and the Healing Salve visit her website at or  Until then, God bless you.

Assets vs. Liabilities: The Key to Building Wealth

There’s a helpful financial principal I picked up on from an author named Robert Kiyosaki, and though I can’t say I’m on board with everything he writes about in terms of financial goals and strategies, I do find this one very useful and easy to understand. If you’re familiar with his materials, Kiyosaki talks a lot about the fundamental goal of “getting rich” and the practice of “leveraging debt” as a primary means of building wealth.  Personally, I don’t think becoming rich should be one’s underlying motive for stewarding their resources well.  I’m also a little uncomfortable with the philosophy of investing on credit as a wealth-building, cash-flow-building mechanism.  I understand the math behind it and think there probably is a place for what he’s talking about, but, for the average joe, I’d push all of that discussion to another day.  I just mention it in the event you have read any of his books. If there’s one principal to wrap your mind around, Kiyosaki would say the number one rule is this:
“You must learn the difference between an asset and a liability—and buy assets.”
Most people think they already know the difference between an asset and a liability.  As they were taught in the simplest of terms in Economics 101, an asset is something you “own” and a liability is something you “owe.”  With that understanding, the money you have in the bank and the possessions you have piling up around your house are all assets with a certain monetary value.  Likewise, the note you’re carrying on your car, the mortgage you have on your house, and the balance you still haven’t paid off on your Credit Card are all liabilities.   That’s one way of thinking about assets and liabilities.
According to Kiyosaki though, if that’s your definition of assets and liabilities, chances are you’re not going to get ahead financially.  At least, not significantly.  A few dollars sitting in your bank and the pile of junk spilling out from your closets don’t produce wealth.  If anything, they hinder your ability to produce wealth. How is that?  Consider the $1000 sitting in your savings account.   First of all, it’s a great thing you’ve saved the $1000, or however much you’ve saved.  I believe everybody needs to have a cash reserve in the bank—I can talk about that more another day.  But if a savings account is the only place you put your extra money, it does about as much good as a pirate who buries his treasure in the sand on some distant island.  All it’s doing is sitting there for the day you decide to come back to get it.  Some of it may even start to erode by the gradual tides of inflation. Furthermore, if you think buying more stuff increases your net worth, just do the math on how much you’re paying (or have already paid) to afford the extra square feet to store it, or the cost of electricity to run it, or the amount of gas to fuel it, or the price of repairs to maintain it, etc.   You may not realize it, but much of what you own really owns you, and what you think you paid for once at the store you’re actually still paying for in storage, usage, maintenance, and repairs. Therefore, a better way to think about assets and liabilities isn’t to define them in terms of “owning and owing” but in terms of “gains and losses.”  Or, simply explained,
“A true asset is something that puts money into your pocket, and a true liability is something that takes money out of your pocket.”
Kiyosaki argues that those who are financially successful, as a general rule, apply their dollars not on liabilities, but on assets.  They don’t waste the bulk of their paycheck on things that have a draining or “costing” affect, but on things that have an accumulating or “earning” affect. By this definition, unless steps can be taken to turn them into money makers, nearly everything you own—including your house, car, electronics, appliances, furniture, go down the list—are all liabilities, assuming they’re costing you something to have them. So, the key is to turn what you have and where you invest your money into earners.  How do you do that?  It takes developing the mind of an investor, or an entrepreneur.  Rather than letting the dollars in the bank collect dust (or, at best, a few pennies in interest), how can you safely invest them?  Instead of treating your home strictly as a home, how can it be used as a small business?  Instead of buying more knickknacks to put on the wall, what kind of products or services can you develop to earn an income by? More could be said on various ways of applying this principal, but everyone’s situation is different.  Suffice it to say, if you can learn to invest your earnings in things that generate their own earnings, you’ve created assets that build wealth instead of liabilities that drain wealth. The person who can grasp that concept and find ways to implement it, I imagine will make great progress in their financial situation.  So, remember the true definition of an asset the next opportunity you have to spend or save your money.  If there’s a way to make those dollars make more dollars, you’ve just discovered the key to building wealth. Remember, “a true asset is something that puts money into your pocket, and a true liability is something that takes money out of your pocket.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

How to Make Soap: A Beginner’s Guide

No two soaps are created equal.  That’s because each ingredient added to an all-natural soap does a specific job.  But how do you find the exact soap you or your family needs without breaking the bank!?!  Unless you have the ear of a soap maker who owes you a favor or two, your best bet is to learn how to make soap yourself.

Yes, working with lye can be dangerous and learning all the rules and purchasing all the different supplies…yeah, it can be intimidating, but when it all boils down to it – it’s WORTH the effort.  Working with lye is no more dangerous than mowing your lawn in the south during snake season.  I know for all you Southerners out there, you know what I’m talking about.

You’re not going to be out there in flipflops when you’ve got Copper Heads nearby and Moccisons.  Oh no, you’re going to wear the proper shoes.  And in this case when dealing with lye, you wear safety glasses, long sleeves, and rubber gloves.

To overcome your phobia, you first need to better understand what it is you actually fear. Now the reason lye is dangerous is because it can cause severe burns if it comes into contact with your skin. No, it’s not an acid.  It quite simply is a chemical reaction. You see, lye absorbs fats/oils upon contact.  So when a drop of lye touches your skin cells, it immediately sucks up all the natural hydration in the skin leaving a “burn.” This process in soapmaking is called saponification.  It’s the chemical reaction of the lye absorbing the fats/oils to create a substance that cleans by altering the pH.  Hense where you get the word “soap.”  It’s simply because the lye and fats have gone through that chemical reaction – saponification. Not enough lye leaves a soap that dissolves rapidly and is mushy from excess fats/oils not being saponified. And let’s not even get into the kind of “soap scum rings” that’s go leave in your bathtub. Eww! GROSS! Too much lye will leave your skin so clean it feels dry or cracked.  So there’s a balance there.

The same way you would treat a boiling pot of water is how you should really treat a container of lye. You don’t want to be around pets or small children who can knock into you while working. You moms out there with toddlers or little ones, you know what I’m talking about….How you’re going to take a step back and your child, like a phantom, likes to sneak up right behind you so when you go to take a step back, you’re like “Ah!” and you either drop it or it spills.  That’s what I mean, common sense.  Leave the kids and pets in another room just to make sure you don’t have an accident in that regard.  But that’s it in a nutshell. That explains the danger of it all. … As and my children like to quote G.I. Joe from the 1980s cartoons, “Now you know, and knowing is half the battle…G.I. JOE!!"

Now that you’ve made up your mind to brave through your fears, how much is it going to cost you up-front to start making soap?

To make one of the simplest types of cold-processed soap you will need:


  • Distilled water - $0.89 (1-gallon @ grocery store)
  • 100% Lye – $3.49 (16oz @ local hardware store)
  • Coconut oil - $20 (1-gallon @ com)
  • Essential oils – optional and prices vary


  • Silicone spatula - $1 (Dollar Tree)
  • 2-Cup plastic measuring pitcher - $1 (Dollar Tree)
  • 1-gallon mixing bowl - FREE (recycle an ice cream bucket)
  • Small bowl – FREE (recycle a sour cream or whip cream container)
  • Rubber dishwashing gloves - $1 (Dollar Tree)
  • Digital Scale - $15 (price varies, but a decent one can be found around this Needs to be able to show 0.00 oz.)
  • Stick Blender - $15 (price varies, but you could snag one around holiday sales for $5-10)
  • Thermometer - $20 (price varies, but I would recommend splurging on a digital infrared thermometer)
  • Soap Mold – FREE (use an old USPS medium flat rate box or any shape container you want that can be lined with parchment People like to use Pringles cans or PVC pipes to make round soaps.)

*Very important to remember that whatever you use for making soap CANNOT be used for any other purpose.

Probably just looking through the list of needed supplies, you can cross off a bunch of things because you already have them inside your pantry or kitchen cabinets.  The amounts and prices I’ve listed are enough to make 2.5 batches of soap.  Using the following recipe we’re going to formulate, these ingredients are enough to make a total of 35 5-oz bars of soap. A bar of all-natural soap costs around $5-7 at the store or craft market.

So if you bought that same amount of soap at the store, you would spend $175-245 just for bars of soap. Altogether, your ingredients and tools cost you less than $100.

Now to put all the pieces together and start building your soap formula…

Step 1.

Do the math calculations to determine the volume and oils needed for your batch of soap.

Square or rectangular = Width x Length x Height x 0.4 Cylinder = 3.14 (π) x Radius x Radius x Height x 0.4

*Using an old USPS Medium Flat Rate Box as a mold with dimensions of 11 x 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.4, I’m going to change the 5.5” height down to 2” because I don’t want my soap to be that tall.  So the final equation is 11 x 8.5 x 2 x 0.4 = 74.8.

Step 2.

Take this number and plug it into an online calculator to get the correct amount of each

oil.  I typically use’s lye calculator, but have also tried out others out there that have a better list of usable ingredients.  For instance, Brambleberry doesn’t have lard listed as one of the fats/oils.  It’s kind of a bummer since I like to make old-fashioned lard soap since we have our own pigs. You know, you use everything you can. However, the Brambleberry site is one of the simplest to use, so for this example I’m going to use the Brambleberry site. Once you are on the site, you’re going to look for the “lye calculator.”

Scroll toward the bottom of the page and answer the questions:

Type: solid…It’s going to be a solid soap not liquid.

Please Select Ounces or Grams…: percentage

Weight of Oils: 74.8 oz (We know this is the volume of the mold, but we have yet to figure out what is the actual amount of the coconut oil.  The 74.8 gives us a starting point.)

Superfatting Level: none (It doesn’t matter at this point; I’ll show you how to calculate your own later and I’ll explain what in the world superfatting is. Haha!)

After clicking “next” you get to decide on the percentage value for each of the oils you would be using.  Because we are doing the most basic recipe, it’s not going to have a breakdown of all the different kinds of oils to use.   Instead, just enter 100 coconut oil then click “next” at the bottom of the page.

SIDE NOTE: Typically, you would want to break a recipe down into percentages like 33% olive oil, 33% coconut oil, 15% shea butter, 15% sunflower oil, 4% castor oil.  All of that to add up to 100 percent.  A typical bar of soap is going to contain certain elements that do certain things. You can do more research on your own about the benefits of each different type of fats/oils and the best percentage used for in soaps to get the results you want. That’s something that you need to do on your own if you are serious about getting into making your own soaps.  I just want to be able to show you how to know or give you the resources or tools so you can take that next step to make your own soaps yourself.

You will see that it gives you a “Total Batch Yield” of 117.11oz which, good grief, is almost double the volume of your mold.  Click at the bottom “resize batch” and guestimate what you think the oil amount will be.  Keep resizing the batch until you get the total batch yield down to 74.8. In this case, the final oil weight would be 48oz which gives you a total batch yield of 75.65oz.

Now, scroll up to the section that says what your oil amounts are and write down those numbers next to each ingredient.

Coconut oil – 48 oz

Now look at the amount of liquid and lye and write those numbers down as well.

Lye – 8.54 oz

Liquid – 19.11 oz

Step 3.

There is where the math comes in…Double check the lye amount using a Saponification

Chart and multiplying the amount of oil ounces by its amount of lye needed. Now I’ve attached a pdf of my favorite NaOH chart that I’ve had the most success using down below so you can see all the values needed to calculate the lye for a bar of soap. (FYI: in case you search the internet for a chart, keep in mind KOH charts are used to make liquid soaps and have different values.)

Now the reason doing your own calculations is so important is because…For example the first time I made a recipe of soap that I had found, I plugged in all the information on the Brambleberry website.  I followed it to a “t.” The problem was my soap didn’t turn out, and I was so aggravated. I was like, “Good grief!  I just wasted all that time and money..aaahhh..Why didn’t this work?!?!”  It drove me bananas! Well, through my research I stumbled across a book and in it she had the full list of saponification chart and was explaining how everything works, blah, blah, blah…But as I was looking at that chart, I matched it up to what the recipe was that Brambleberry had told me, and I did the multiplications on there.  I multiplied the saponification chart from the book that was listed with my oils, and it was different.  Now I did that for the entire recipe. I went through and redid the calculations, and when I made the recipe again, it worked.   I didn’t have a failure.  It turned out perfect. That lesson taught me that online lye calculators are not always right, and there are so many different variations for saponification chart floating around out there on the internet that it’s insane.  So that’s why I’ve listed my favorite one that I’ve had the most success with. I have not had any failed attempts when I’ve done my calculations, my soaps turn out correctly.  Again, some people are like, “Oh well, it doesn’t matter.  It’s only off by a tenth or a hundredth,” but that all adds up in my mind.  So I want to stick with the one that I’ve had success with and that’s what this is that I’ve posted below.  But on this chart, she uses 0.190 for coconut oil. That means that for every ounce of coconut oil, you’re going to use 0.190 oz lye. So you multiply that out.

0.190 Coconut oil

0.190 x 48 = 9.12 – That’s telling us we’re using 9.12oz lye.  You can already you can see that it differs from the online calculator gave a different total

Step 4.

Superfatting…This is the term used when you allow a certain percentage of fats/oils to not be absorbed by the lye during saponification.  They are going to remain in fat molecule form. This is another big way in which making your own soap can be customized.  You can control the moisturizing affect of the final product simply by adjusting the superfatting level.  This will also affect the amount of bubbles/suds your soap will produce. Too much and the soap becomes slimy and the bubbles are inhibited.  Not enough, and the soap leaves the skin feeling dry because it cleans off the natural oils in the skin and doesn’t replace them with any. So superfatting is crucial

Take the final amount of lye needed (9.12) and multiply it by the percentage you choose. (Majority of recipes are superfatted at 5%. You would want to increase it to 15% for this high coconut oil soap.

9.12 x 0.15 = 1.368

Now subtract that amount from the total lye. (9.12-1.368 = 7.752) Round to the nearest hundredth and you end up with 7.75 oz.  THIS is the needed amount of lye for your batch of soap.

With the accurate lye amount, adjust your liquid measurement to match.  The liquid/lye ratio is 2:1.  So for this recipe you will need 15.5 oz.


7.75 oz – lye

15.5 oz – distilled water 48 oz – coconut oil Total Weight = 71.25 oz

*Because of the change in lye and water amounts, the total weight went below the 74.94oz we were working toward earlier.  You can either leave it at this weight, or you can go back and readjust your oil amounts. Just remember to re-do the math on each step if you change just one oil amount since it will change the amount of lye and water needed.

Yay! You just formulated your first batch of soap!!!!

Step 5. – Mixing the lye solution

Now to actually make your soap. Ha! Maybe take a short break to let your brain cool off after all the calculating…

Set out your supplies in a well-ventilated area.

Put on your safety gear and cover your work area with a trash bag or newspapers to protect the surface you are working on.

Using a digital scale, place your 2-cup measuring pitcher on the scale, set to measure in ounces, and press “tare” to zero out the weight of the pitcher.

Measure out the needed amount of COLD distilled water and set aside.

Place your empty small bowl on the scale and press “tare.” Measure out the needed amount of lye being very careful not to spill the granules.

If you are in a well-ventilated area, slowly pour a little lye at a time into the water, mixing with your spatula.


(Go outside if you need better ventilation as this part is the worst part when it comes to chemical smells.)  You will know the lye is completely dissolved when it turns clear and there are no more little white pieces floating around.  At this point, leave the spatula inside the pitcher and place inside the refrigerator while you begin prepping your oils.

Step 6. – Measuring the Oils

Place your empty gallon ice cream container on the scale and measure out your coconut oil.  Place inside microwave and heat in slow bursts (15-20 seconds) stirring between each round until the oil is transparent.

Place the container back on the scale and press “tare” to zero out weight. Slowly measure out the olive oil.  Do the same for measuring the castor oil.  Gently stir the oils to get a consistent heat.

Step 7. – Combining Oils and Lye

Use your digital thermometer to get a temperature reading for the oils and then the lye mixture inside the refrigerator. Combine the lye into the oils when both are between the temp of 120-140F with a difference of 10 degrees allowed between each.

Using your stick blender, “burp” the blender first to remove any air pockets before turning on. Slowly blend the mixture in 15-second bursts letting the blender rest.  If the temperature is correct, the soap will reach a light trace in a few minutes. (Trace is when you can dribble some of the mixture on the top of the batter, and it holds its shape.)

If you are adding any essential oils, now would be the time you add those.

Step 8. – Pouring into Mold

Once you’ve reached the medium trace, you need to act quickly to get the soap poured into your mold.  It will begin to firm up quickly as it cools.  Scrape the sides of the container clean then shake/tap the mold to smooth the batter into the corners and evenly across the top.

Cover with a layer of plastic wrap to protect the tops of the soap while it hardens.

A little tip here…If using a silicone mold that doesn’t have a wooden form, place it on a cookie tray so that you can lift the tray to tap down the batter.  If you try lifting the silicone mold on its own, it will just be a huge mess.

Step 9. – Gel Phase

Non-milk soaps need to go through a gel phase to create a consistent color and texture throughout the soap.  This can be achieved by placing your mold on a heating pad set to low and covered with thick towels for an hour.  Or you can wrap several thick towels/blankets around and set aside.  Check on your soap after it’s been sitting for an hour to ensure it doesn’t overheat.

Soap that gets too hot can bubble up like a volcano.  Better to have it be a little too cool than to be too hot.

Step 10. – Unmolding and Curing

Your soap will be ready to unmold after 24-48 hours.  At this time, you would cut into the desired bar sizes after unmolding.  Bars should be kept on a shelf to cure for 4-6 weeks to allow the excess liquid to evaporate and harden. Soaps are safe to use after unmolding since the entire saponification process has finished. Contrary to a lot of soapers out there who say that it’s not safe to use the soap until after the 4-6 weeks cure because the pH is still too high, there is no scientific proof to back up this claim. The curing process is there to harden the bars which will in turn make them last longer during use.  You can use the freshly unmolded soap in your shower, but it will dissolve faster.

In closing, just want to remind you that this recipe was one of the simplest and least expensive ones you can make by using only one 3 ingredients. This type of soap is not favored for washing with because it lacks the other oils that are more hydrating. However, it is still a great plain soap that does amazing at cleaning skin.  If you lower the superfatting level down to 0%, you then have an amazing plant-based laundry soap that can be shaved and added to other ingredients for a dry laundry powder or melted down to make a liquid detergent that is all-natural and very effective at removing dirt and stains.

Now that you know how to formulate a soap recipe and do the calculations, look through your kitchen cabinets or pantry and see what oils you have on hand in addition to coconut oil.

Some of the best are olive oil, sunflower oil, avocado oil, lard, tallow, sesame oil, hemp seed oil, and castor oil. But whatever recipe you find online or in a book, ALWAYS remember to do the calculations yourself and not just follow what someone else has written down.

I hope this episode is a help to any of you out there looking for ways to help save money for yourself and your family by becoming more self-sufficient in the area of soap making.

Spiritual Warfare on the Homestead

When it comes to farming, homesteading, and the goal to "live a quiet life, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands" (I Thessalonians 4:11-12), it's possible for a family to develop a false sense of security in their efforts to make progress in that direction.

It may be true a person has become more self-reliant and has learned to function quite fruitfully on their farm with a cozy hedge of separation between them and the outside world—safe from becoming overly dependent on (or influenced by) that outside world.  In their view, they feel they've done a good thing since, with every passing day, the world seems to slide further and further into sin and confusion.  Amy and I share many of those thoughts.

But, honestly, the guarded, self-reliant family out on their little farm is hardly removed from the dangers of a sinful world.  Even if it were completely off-grid and isolated from having any contact with anyone, it would still be in the line of fire.  How is that?  Well because, as Ephesians 6:12 says,

“For [our fight] isn’t against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

The real battle being fought and, therefore, the place where the real threat to our families exists, isn’t just in the political arenas of Washington or the culture centers of Hollywood, but it’s creeping in the shadows on the front porch of the farmhouse too.  It’s hiding over in the tall grass at the edge of the field, waiting for an opportunity to pounce.  It’s already crossed the no-trespassing sign.  It’s already crossed the fence.  It’s already on the farm.

It’s already creeping in the garden and by the fruit trees, just as it was for Eve in the safe and peaceful confines of Paradise itself.  It’s already following our kids around the property as they’re doing their farm chores—as one feeds the animals, and the other picks the vegetables—just as it was for Cain and Able.

You remember the story.  Cain was making an offering from the fruit of the ground.  Able was making his offering from the firstborn of his flocks.  And, by the way, it’s worth mentioning all of that was in connection to the practice of Family Worship.  What can be more God glorifying than the wholesome practice of intentional family worship together?

But what happened out on the farm east of Eden?  Something went wrong.  For one reason or another, Cain’s offering was rejected, while Abel’s accepted.  And, in that seemingly God-glorifying act of worship together, Cain gets jealous.  He turns in anger against his brother with murderous intent.

To which, God sounds the alarm, right before Cain kills his brother, in Genesis 4:7, saying “…Sin is crouching at the door.  Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

Anybody who lives out on a farm or a homestead, I’m sure, can relate to what it’s like when the chickens start to get picked off by the coyotes.  Or when the snakes slither into the coop and start eating the eggs.  Or when the kids are playing in the woods and that stray dog shows up again.

In the same way, sin is lying in wait.  “Sin is crouching at the door,” ready to pounce.  I Peter 5:8 says,

“Be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

It’s the teaching of Scripture that sin and Satan—yes, I believe, in a literal spiritual realm made up of a literal devil and demons who, as Ephesians 6 said, is the real enemy pulling the puppet strings—but, the Bible tells us, both temptation and the tempter are closer than you think.   Like the predator hiding near the coop, a spiritual ambush awaits us.

In the book of Job, Satan is described as one who “wanders around the earth, going back and forth upon it.”  Going back and forth to do what?  Presumably to find people in vulnerable moments—and not just individuals, but entire family units—and to pick them off, virtue by virtue.  And sure enough, in an effort to take down Job, Satan goes after Job’s seemingly happy family out on the farm, with their 10 prosperous kids and all their acreage and all their many animals.

Job’s family and farm, as successful as it was, was anything but immune from spiritual attack.  Folks, the same is true for you and me.  Your homestead may feel far enough out, and self-reliant enough, that you can weather the next economic, political, or health crisis storm.  That may all be true.  But, I can tell you, you’re not far enough out, or self-reliant enough, to prevent  the next lustful thought, or the next outburst of anger, or the next lie your kid tells, or the next wave of depression, or the next bout of pride and self-righteousness you entertain as you think about how well off you are on your farm.  Oh, how the sin of pride is ready to take down an entire countryside of unsuspecting homesteaders!

If you’ve ever read the classic satire known as “The Screwtape Letters,” by C.S. Lewis, you may remember some of the strategies Lewis imagines the Devil uses to attack us.  If you’re unfamiliar, The Screwtape Letters is an imaginary exchange of messages between an older, senior demon named Screwtape whose writing to his younger, inexperienced nephew, Wormwood, about the best ways—the most deceptive tricks to use—in order to tempt man.  In one letter (again, speaking from the devil’s perspective), he writes,

“What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in the state of mind I call ‘Christianity And’.—Christianity and the Crisis, Christianity and the New Psychology, Christianity and the New Order, Christianity and Faith Healing, Christianity and Psychical Research, Christianity and Vegetarianism, Christianity and Spelling Reform. If they must be Christians let them at least be Christians with a difference. Substitute for the faith itself some Fashion [or fad] with a Christian colouring.”

In other words, one of the ways Satan tries to take down the committed Christian is by confusing their understanding as to what their Christianity really is.  Instead of believing the plain message of the Gospel that our salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, for the glory of God alone, the strategy of the devil us for us to start believing the message of the Gospel plus something else.  It’s salvation, plus the campaign promises of the latest politician.  Or, the Gospel plus going to church.  Or, the Gospel plus a commitment to homeschooling.  Or, it’s the Gospel plus a quiet, self-reliant homesteading lifestyle.

Obviously, we need to look out for all different sins, but pride in one’s self-reliance, as commendable and well-intended as that is, can inadvertently lead a person away pure God-reliance, trusting in “self” above trusting in the Lord.  Folks, that’s the opposite of Christianity.

Satan wants us to put our faith in our 20 acres, and our new sustainable hoop houses, and our food pantries, and our well-stocked gun safes rather than a complete, 100% faith in God as our Provider and Protector.

Obviously, that’s not to say we don’t need to be about those other things—like the offerings of worship Cain and Able were participating in, they can be glorifying to God, but the moment we selfishly treat any one of them apart from a basic conviction that God alone is our Savior, we’ve become idolaters and all the fruits of our labor become an offense to God.

Again, our struggle is not against flesh and blood, ultimately speaking.  That is, it’s not against invading armies, or tyrannical governments, or lurking pandemics, or the potential of famines and food shortages.  The battle is in your own heart.  It’s in your spouses’ heart.  It’s in your kids’ hearts.  It’s already on the farm.

So, “be sober minded.  Be watchful.”  Know how to spot the prowling sins that threaten you, and take up arms against that.

I’m a Second Amendment guy like most other conservatives, but, listen, more important to me than the concealed carry under my belt, which is a part of getting dressed in the morning, and which I have had to use on some of those predators attacking my chickens, the more important thing I’ve got to remember to put on is the full armor of God that Ephesians 6 also talks about and all the spiritual preparation one must make in order to do something about the devil attacking my family.

If you know the passage, you know that armor is made up of virtue as a primary defense.  And lest we think all the Christian can do is hold a defensive posture and wait for the attack, the armor includes a sword by which we can even hunt down the enemy and regain any surrendered ground.  That sword, of course, is God’s Word.

Well, there’s a battle happening.  And, yes part of that battle is happening in the public arena in areas of government and culture, but it’s also happening out on the farm as well to a far greater degree than you probably realize.  Don’t be blind to it, but take up arms!

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