Three herbs recommended for kidney health

As a forager, I’ve always been fascinated to discover that certain herbs can not only prevent various health problems but also aid in their treatment. When it comes to kidney health issues, Bearberry, Nasturtium, and Stinging Nettle are among the most commonly used herbs due to their healing properties. These herbs have been utilized for centuries, and their use can be traced back to ancient times.

For example, Bearberry, also known as uva ursi, was employed by the Native Americans to treat urinary tract infections and other kidney-related problems.

Nettle has been used for medicinal purposes since the Bronze Age. In ancient Greece, it was utilized to treat kidney and urinary tract issues. Similarly, nasturtium has been used to treat urinary tract infections, and its recorded use goes back to the Incas, who used it to treat kidney problems.

These herbs have passed the test of time and are commonly used today for their remarkable healing properties. They are readily available and can be administered in various forms, such as teas, capsules, or extracts. Incorporating these herbs into your diet can help maintain healthy kidney function and prevent complications.

The kidneys are the cleansing organs of your body

The human body houses two kidneys situated on each side of the spine in the lower back region. These small yet powerful organs play a crucial role in maintaining your overall health and well-being by filtering out waste products and all the excess fluids from the bloodstream, which are then expelled in the form of urine.

With an oval shape similar to a bean, the kidneys are characterized by a smooth surface and a dark reddish-brown hue. The renal artery, which supplies the kidneys with blood, goes into the central part of the organ, while the ureter, a muscular tube, carries urine out of the kidneys and into the bladder for eventual expulsion from the body.

Apart from regulating our fluid and electrolyte balance, the kidneys perform a host of other vital functions, including producing hormones that help regulate blood pressure, stimulate the production of red blood cells, and even help us maintain strong bones. Given the critical role the kidneys play in our health, it’s essential to take care of them.

How the kidneys are structured

Located within the protective confines of the fibrous tissue pouch, the kidney is a complex organ comprising various structures that work in tandem to filter waste substances from the bloodstream. At the center of the kidney lies the renal pelvis, which is connected to several calyxes that collect and channel the waste products expelled by the organ.

The kidney is composed of a darker core matter and a lighter surface and is situated adjacent to the suprarenal gland. The organ is further shielded from damage by connective tissue that is thickened by fat.

The renal arteries, so named due to their proximity to the kidneys (ren in Latin), are responsible for supplying blood…

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Can Diesel Fuel be Used in a Kerosene Heater? Risks and Benefits

Kerosene is one of the most common and popular fuels around the world, and is regularly used in heaters, cooking appliances and more. Although it’s no longer quite as popular in North America as it used to be, it is still a reliable standby for various types of portable heaters.

kerosene heater

Every prepper, naturally, will want to keep a sizable stash of kerosene on hand to keep their heaters working, but what happens if you run out of kerosene?

Some folks say that it is possible to use diesel fuel as an alternate to kerosene in normal kerosene heaters. Is it true? Is it possible? Can diesel really be used in a kerosene heater?

Yes, diesel fuel can be used safely in a kerosene heater with just a little bit of isopropyl alcohol as an additive.

This is definitely great information to know since it provides you with more flexibility using the same appliance, whatever it is.

As it turns out, kerosene is really just a form of diesel fuel itself and that easily explains why common diesel fuel, also known as No.2 diesel, will still work in a kerosene heater.

Of course, there is plenty more you should know before you try this yourself, so keep reading and I’ll tell you all about it…

Why Burn Diesel in a Kerosene Heater at All?

The simplest answer is that you are simply out of kerosene fuel. Having alternate liquid fuel types for any sort of vehicle, tool or appliance is only a good thing when it comes to preparedness.

Just like how some generators can accept both gasoline and propane, or even additional fuels besides, it’s good to know you can rely on a diesel as a backup to your usual supply of kerosene.

Now, from a performance perspective, there’s no great reason to use diesel instead of kerosene.

Diesel does not put out quite as much heat as kerosene, although they are very close, and it tends to produce a little more odor and also burn up wicks quicker than kerosene.

But make no mistake, your heater will work normally and safely, and you’ll definitely stay warm!

Is it Safe to Use Diesel in an Indoor Kerosene Heater?

Yes, it is safe to use diesel in an indoor kerosene heater if the heater is otherwise used in a safe manner.

Diesel doesn’t make any given heater in any given environment more or less safe. Said another way, as long as you have taken all reasonable precautions to provide ventilation and prevent accidental fires, you can safely use diesel in your indoor kerosene heater.

But the reverse is also true. If you’re using your kerosene heater in an unsafe way, or operating it in an unsafe location or during times of heightened fire risk or with poor circulation, using diesel isn’t going to make it any safer…

Which Kind of Diesel Can Be Used to Replace Kerosene?

You can use common, garden variety…

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So, Is It Illegal To Collect Rainwater in Kentucky?

Kentucky is famous, or rather infamous, for its unpredictable weather, and when it rains it tends to pour. Naturally, that would make the Bluegrass State a wonderful place to have your own rain collection system.

kentucky flag

Raincatching is an ancient practice that is a great way to ensure you always have water coming in, even during a major disaster or grid down scenario. But, some states have serious restrictions on the activity.

Is Kentucky one of them? Is it illegal to collect rainwater in Kentucky?

No, it is not illegal to collect rainwater in Kentucky. The state has no specific laws or regs concerning it. However, rainwater collection must still follow all applicable state and local laws and codes.

Kentucky is, thankfully, one of the most relaxed states when it comes to rainwater collection, so you can rest assured that no matter where you are you’ll likely be able to install a system with no issues.

That said, there’s plenty more to learn so you can make an informed decision on the process. Keep reading and I will tell you all about it below…

Is Collection of Rainwater Illegal at the State Level in Kentucky?

No, it is not illegal to collect rainwater in Kentucky at the state level. Kentucky has no regulation against residents collecting rainwater for really any purposes.

In fact, Kentucky encourages and supports rainwater harvesting among the citizenry as it can help save water during times of drought, and reduce stormwater runoff.

However, the collection and use of rainwater must still abide by all applicable state laws, including those concerning water quality for consumption or other purposes.

Is Collection of Rainwater Illegal at the County Level?

No. As far as I could find, there are no counties that outright ban citizens from collecting rainwater.

However, it’s possible for individual counties and municipalities to implement their own requirements on rainwater harvesting, including permitting and codes for the installation of systems.

Some local laws may require water quality sampling, an inspection, or restrict the amount of water that may be collected.

It’s also important to note that your rainwater collection system must be in compliance with all local zoning ordinances and building codes.

So, make sure to check with your city or county government before starting any project- and definitely before you plunk down a ton of cash on tanks and components!

Although most counties likely don’t have any serious regulations, failure to obey can see you fined or charged. Don’t risk it!

Under What Conditions Can Citizens Collect Rainwater in Kentucky?

The Kentucky State Government permits citizens to collect rainwater for basically any purpose at any time, again so long as all state and local laws are being followed otherwise.

But once again, your local codes and laws might specify various regulations that could impact your collection operation or intended use.

Is There a Limit on How Much Rainwater You Can Collect in Kentucky?

No, not according to state law….

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Will No-Dig Work for Your Garden? –

No-dig gardening is exactly what it sounds like. Rather than tilling before planting a garden, you strategically build up rich layers of compost, manure and even cardboard to amend the soil. No-dig gardening — also called the no-till or no-plow method — stifles weeds, boosts biodiversity, prevents erosion and improves soil health. Here’s how to get started.

Deciding If No-Till Is Right for You

No-dig gardening is an excellent way to grow your own food without harming the surrounding ecosystem. In fact, 37% of conventional U.S. agriculture uses no-till methods. However, there are a few things to consider when deciding if you should plant a no-dig garden:

  • Time: The first year of no-dig gardening might have ups and downs — especially if the land is degraded. You may see lower yields and more weeds than usual for a while.
  • Location: If you live in a very cold or dry climate, you’ll have to work harder at growing a garden — whether no-till or traditional — than if you live in a mild, temperate growing zone with ample rainfall.
  • Supplies: You’ll need cardboard or newspapers, compost, manure and gardening soil. If you’re starting your garden in tall weeds, poor soil or a very rocky area, you’ll need many more of these supplies.
  • Patience: No-till gardening is more complicated than other tilling methods. You can’t just rip up the soil, throw in your seeds and forget about them. However, it offers bigger rewards and more opportunities to learn about ecology.

Layer After Layer

With no-dig gardening, you usually employ a layering system to build up and amend the soil. This method is sometimes called “lasagna gardening” in reference to the layers. Those levels are:

  1. Manure and lime if you’re creating a garden on top of grass. Use twigs as your first layer if starting your garden on a hard surface. If you’re gardening on soil, skip layer one.
  2. Cardboard or newspapers to block the light and stifle weeds.
  3. Compost or food waste.
  4. Manure or a manure-compost mix.
  5. Straw.
  6. Manure or a manure-compost mix.
  7. Straw.

It’s essential to have multiple layers to recreate the conditions where plants would grow in the wild, minus the pests, herbivores and unpredictable rainfall. You’ll essentially be growing your garden directly on a compost pile rather than creating a separate area for composting.

How to Start a No-Dig Garden

If you’re ready for a radical new gardening method to boost crop yields and restore a depleted landscape, put on your gloves and grab a shovel. It’s time to get to work.

1.    Prepare the Site

First, if the area you want to plant in is overgrown, start by cutting any weeds down at the base rather than digging them out. Since they may contain seeds, throwing them away is best rather than adding them to your compost mix. You can also construct a raised bed if you prefer your garden to be in a container.

2.   …

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Tree Propagation Through Air Layering. Cover the incision with moist soil .

(Continued from Part 2. This concludes the article.)

The EU database listing for Salix states as a fungicide it is useful against leaf fungus and powdery mildews[EU]. The recipe for making a Salix solution: “30 L of natural or rain water is brought to simmering in a stainless steel tank with cover, at 80°C infuse 200 g of Salix spp cortex for 2 hours. After cooling down, and filtration with a stainless steel sieve, adjust pH to 6.2 and proceed the dilution by 3 with water. Use within 24 hours to avoid bacterial contamination [EU].” Some recipes refer to the “aerial” part of the plant, this recipe to the “cortex”. In practice, one might just get some pencil size or smaller shoots from a willow tree and chop them up to fit inside where you are performing the extraction. However, never having tried this willow concoction before, a reputable recipe is cited. I have heard from a friend who went to school for botany that in the greenhouses on campus they would place cuttings in buckets along with cuttings of willow branches to enhance the rooting of the cuttings, albeit that was second-hand information. If you do make a Salix based fungicide/rooting solution, I would apply it to the girdling and bud incision wounds via soaking a towel in the solution and tying it to the wounded twig for a few hours, and then use the same solution to wet the soil in the air layering packet.

How to air layer: Cover the incision with moist soil and protect from the elements.

This is the fun part of air layering, where you get to use your imagination and materials on hand to keep freshly wounded twig covered in soil and moist. But before we get to the covering, lets discuss the soil. The most common soil used for air layering (and what I use) is peat (i.e., sphagnum) moss. Peat moss is ideal because it is naturally anti-fungal, and if you buy it wrapped in plastic it is going to contain very little fungal spores, once wet it will hold water. It also provides a “light” growing medium for the roots. Whatever soil you choose, you want a soil that will not promote fungal/bacteria growth (so don’t use your compost) and that is “light” (so don’t use soils with a high clay content).

If you have a freshly opened bag of potting mix or peat moss, you should be fine regarding sterility. But for any garden soil or bags of potting mix or peat moss that has been open for weeks, you can heat treat them to sterilize them. Heating up to the boiling temperature of water (212 degree F) will kill basically all organisms and viruses that could negatively affect your air layering. There are numerous methods online describing how to get soil up to this temperature, everything from solar to steam canning equipment. We only need small volumes of soil (like a handful per air layering) so if…

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How To Save Tomato Seeds From Your Garden’s Tomatoes (Video)

There are a number of reasons why someone might want to save their tomato seeds. The first is simple economics. Saving seeds from this year’s crop to plant again next year means I won’t have to purchase tomato seeds again!

But when we save our tomato seeds, we’re saving more than just money. 

Preserving Heirlooms

Some of the best, most flavorful tomatoes that we can grow are known as heirlooms. An heirloom is simply a variety that has been saved and passed down from one generation to the next for at least fifty years.

Every time we save and share our tomato seeds, we’re doing our part to preserve those varieties

Tomatoes don’t necessarily need to be heirlooms for us to save their seeds. The key to success is to grow and save seeds from open-pollinated varieties. Seeds from an open-pollinated variety produce offspring that are identical to the parent plant. 

Read more: Saving seeds from these 6 garden crops is easy and fun!

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What You Need to Save Tomato Seeds

There’s very little equipment required to save tomato seeds. The first thing you’ll need, of course, is ripe tomatoes. When a tomato is ripe, the seeds are ready to harvest and the fruit will signal its ripeness by changing colors, from green to red. Or orange, yellow, striped or even purple depending on the variety of tomato that you are growing!

You will also need a cutting board, knife and a container to ferment your tomato seeds in. A canning jar will do the trick, but you can always reuse any jar or container from the kitchen.

How to Extract & Ferment Seeds

When you save tomato seeds, you first need to ferment in order to remove the jelly-like coating that surrounds thes. This coating contains growth inhibitor chemicals, and removing it from our seeds will significantly increase germination rates next season.

Cut your tomato open and squeeze the seeds and juice out of the fruit and into your container. You can also use a small spoon or scoop for this job of you prefer. Add a little bit of water to the jar, cover, then set the container on a window sill for a few days to ferment.

Be sure to label the jar with the name of the variety!

Once the seeds are properly fermented, you’ll notice a white mold beginning to form at the top of the water. This is the signal that your tomato seeds are ready! At this stage, just add a little bit more water to the jar and swirl the liquid around to mix it up well. 

Read more: Buy local, yes—and make sure you’re buying local garden seeds, too.

Getting Your Seeds

The contents of the jar will separate, with the mold, growth inhibitors, immature seeds and other undesirables floating to the top, and nothing but healthy, viable…

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Garden Trellises Aren’t Just For Climbing Plants

We all know about encouraging garden plants to climb trellises for support. Whether peas, roses or grapes, trellises provide the support climbing plants need to thrive.

Some trellises are ornate, crafted of wood or metal and designed to add a pleasing aesthetic to the garden. Others are more utilitarian in nature, constructed from a few T-posts with twine tied between them. The one rule is that trellises are normally installed before the plants take root, so the support is there as the plants grow … but truth be told, this is a rule that can (and should) be readily broken under certain circumstances.

The truth is, trellises aren’t only useful for supporting climbing plants. They can play just as important a role in supporting tall, gangly plants struggling to stand under challenging circumstances.

And for this purpose, trellises can be installed virtually anytime and anywhere, saving the day when something goes awry.

Read more: Check out these 5 upcycled trellis ideas you can use in your garden.

Some Examples of Garden Trellises in Action

Let me give you an example. You might have a bed of sunflowers, boldly reaching for the sky, but planted in a location that receives a fair amount of wind. Without protection, these tall flowers might be blown and buffeted until they break.

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Add a trellis to the mix, and the sunflowers have something to lean on for support.

Here’s another possibility. You’ve planted a bed full of squash, with their big, broad leaves spreading upward and outward to catch the sunlight. But there’s a strong thunderstorm in the forecast, and you’re concerned the heavy wind and rain will beat down the leaves and break their stalks.

A homemade trellis of sorts that weaves twine under and among the leaves might just provide enough support to protect the plants from damage.

Garden Trellises Don’t Have to Be Complicated

Trellises like these don’t have to be complicated. Do you have a raised bed of tomatoes where the plants are outgrowing their cages and threatening to fall over from the weight of their branches and fruit? Install a wooden post at each corner of the bed, to a height just shorter than the tomato plants.

Then run horizontal boards between the posts to give the tomato plants “guard rails” to lean on.

Other techniques and materials are just as effective. Twine can be a gardener’s best friend, being both effective in supporting plants and practically invisible when viewed from a distance. T-posts and other metal stakes can be readily installed and removed as needed.

No matter the details, all shapes and sizes of trellises can be constructed by anyone with the materials and a little bit of DIY ingenuity.

Read more: Is there any more versatile piece of farm equipment than the humble metal T-post?

Using Garden Trellises to…

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From The Herb Garden: Everything Is Better With Basil!

The pungent aroma of basil evokes thoughts of Italian cuisine, but this herb is grown and enjoyed around the world for its flavorful and fragrant leaves. 

Basil’s native range reaches from Central Africa to Southeast Asia. And this ancient herb has been cultivated for culinary and medicinal purposes for nearly 5000 years. 

The most well-known variety of basil is Genovese, which is also sometimes referred to as sweet basil. But there at least 60 varieties that can be grown, each offering unique flavors, aromas and colors for the herb garden. 

Basil Varieties

Some of the most popular cultivars of Ocimum basilicum include:

  • Licorice basil: A flavorful variety of basil that grows into vibrant green plants with hints of purple on the foliage.
  • Cinnamon basil: Sometimes called Mexican basil, this variety has a flavor reminiscent of cinnamon and narrow, dark green leaves with reddish-purple veins.
  • Dark opal basil: With its deep purple leaves, this beautiful basil is both decorative and delicious.
  • Lettuce leaf basil: A specialty type with very large, crinkly, bright green leaves. 
  • Globe basil: A perfect basil for growing in containers; short, compact and packed full of flavor.
  • Thai basil: A spicy variety with small, narrow leaves, purple stems. This is the preferred basil for cooking as it can withstand extended cooking times better than other sweet basils.

In addition to these varietals, there are other basil species and hybrids available to choose from such as:

  • African blue basil: A beautiful purple variety. One of the few perennial basil types.
  • Lemon basil: This hybrid variety has a strong lemon scent and flavor popular is Asian cuisine.
  • Holy Basil:  Ocimum tenuifloru is an aromatic perennial wildly used for tea that is also cultivated for religious and medicinal purposes. 

Read more: Grow these culinary herbs for you and your chickens to enjoy!

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Basil in the Kitchen

The potent flavors and aroma of freshly harvested basil just screams summertime. This tasty herb is a must-have ingredient in tomato sauces, on pizza and, of course, in pesto. Make an easy pesto at home with just a handful of ingredients:

  • 2 cups freshly harvested and washed basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts (or substitute walnuts or sunflower seeds)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 -1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (more oil will make a smother pesto)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Simply combine the basil, pine nuts, lemon juice, garlic and salt into your food processor.Run until well chopped and combined.

While the food processor is running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until well combined and smooth. Add the Parmesan cheese if desired and pulse one last time to blend. 

Basil in the Apothecary

Basil is a member of the mint family, Lamiaceae. Like other mint family relatives, it is useful to calm an upset stomach. Brewing a tea of basil leaves is the…

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How to Start Your Own Fish Farm –

As someone who is self-sufficient and off-the-grid, you want to be able to provide everything for you and your family. Homesteaders aim to source their food, water and other needs for themselves rather than rely on grocery stores and other mainstream resources.

Although many homesteaders resort to growing their own produce and raising cattle, chickens, pigs and other animals with legs, you might be missing the taste of fish and seafood. By raising your own fish, you can add another protein source right in your backyard.

Backyard fish farming is just as practical as any other type of farming. You already have a freshwater source for your water needs, so why not implement that in another way? Fish provide another way to offer a healthy diet to your family, and you can achieve a higher level of self-sufficiency.

Starting your own fish farm may seem like a daunting task to some, but with a little bit of planning and a few resources, you can get started raising your own fish.

Why Should You Start Your Own Fish Farm?

Aquaculture is ideal for rural and small communities. Often, those communities don’t have access to fresh fish and have to source it from grocery stores where the food may travel from thousands of miles away.

When you start your own fish farm, you have the opportunity to provide fresh fish for yourself, and if you desire, you can sell that fish to others in your community, offering them local, sustainable food.

Throughout history, aquaculture as a whole has had a negative reputation. Many people associate it with commercial fish farming facilities. These facilities often require significant amounts of energy and water and are usually a significant source of pollution for both the air and water.

However, with modern and sustainable fish farming techniques, you can be a provider of environmentally friendly food. You likely already have a lot of the skills it takes to be an aquaculture farmer, too. Both gardening and fishing require similar care — they need warmth, a particular season to grow, regular maintenance and your time. Once you get started, you can master raising several types of fish, whether indoors or outdoors, throughout the year.

Learn the Types of Fish Farming: Intensive and Extensive

Before you begin your own fish farm, you need to learn the types of fish farming. There are two types — intensive and extensive. You can do both of these in your backyard.

Intensive fish farming occurs when a company uses smaller tanks to raise the fish. The fish farmers who use intensive farming must ensure that they are correctly managing the tanks. They produce a lot of fish in a small area.

Extensive fish farming, on the other hand, uses larger ponds for their fish. This type of fish farming makes the ecosystem more natural. There are plants and other organisms that the fish can feed on, offering them a lifestyle similar to those fish in the wild.


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Survival Garden: Fruits of Your Labor

For those lucky enough to acquire a property with a thriving orchard, the benefits are obvious in the first year. What’s not immediately clear is all the decision-making and patience that were necessary in the beginning. There’s an old proverb: “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is today.” That certainly applies to fruits. Once established, though, one can expect years of production. Blueberries, for instance, can produce for up to 50 years. Standard apples and pears can be productive for 35 to 45 years. Consider fruits a multigenerational investment. 

In addition to being long-lived, fruits are versatile, both in terms of usage and storage capacity. Fruits can be eaten fresh or rendered into jams, jellies, juices, fruit leathers, cider, and wine. They can be frozen, canned, or dehydrated. Some late-season apple varieties like Arkansas Black, Stayman, Pink Lady, and Fuji can keep up to five months if stored in a cool and humid environment.

The Planning Phase

Regardless of which fruits make sense for your situation, some basic homework beforehand will ensure successful establishment. Site selection is important. Vegetable gardens are challenging on sloped terrain, but fruits and slopes are a great fit. Placing fruits on a high point of the landscape allows heavy, cold air to flow past the plants rather than settling right on top of them. Be mindful that south-facing slopes warm up quicker in the winter, which sounds like a positive, but it can also encourage earlier blooming and subsequent damage by late frosts. 

Soil testing is always a good idea. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service about their procedures and fees. Normally, soil testing costs will range from free to $10. The results will give you an indication not only of nutrient needs, but also the natural pH of your soil. A soil pH between 6 and 6.5 will be perfect for tree fruits, strawberries, grapes, and brambles, such as raspberries and blackberries. Blueberries need more acidity, so a pH of 4.5 to 5.2 should be the target. If your score is too low, it can be raised with limestone. If too high, adjustment with sulfur may be in order.

PawPaw Fruit

Above: Pawpaw is a native fruit reminiscent in flavor to a banana, but the mushy texture is a turnoff to some.

The number of fruit cultivars is overwhelming, but a good starting point would be to speak with neighbors. What fruits have done well for them? Universities in your state with an agricultural program will periodically publish variety trials for common fruits, and while the list isn’t exhaustive, it can at least provide insight into a handful of varieties that do well. As an example, search online for “Growing blueberries in [your state] .edu.” A lot of first-time fruit growers make the mistake of planting supermarket varieties they’ve enjoyed — think Honeycrisp apples or Bing cherries — even if those aren’t adapted to their region.


A seed will contain genetic material from both parents, and as a result, the fruit…

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