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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cooking a Whole Hog Underground

Some more pics from this weekend....

I finally got the chance to cook another pig underground. It's been awhile and things just fell into place for me to get this done.

(for the few that are not aware that there is more than one way to cook an underground pig)
This is the western Okie way to cook an underground pig.... not the Hawaiian way. NO banana leaves... I use wet burlap feed sacks and baling wire to lift the pig in and out of the ground.
This method has been working for years.



I had a friend dig the pit with a backhoe...











This is the same spot I cooked the last one....
the pit was about 4ft deep.
Just make sure it's big enough for your pig plus a 1 and 1/2 ft or more bed of hot coals....



The pig I've been preparing for the last few weeks....















This is where your tenderloins come from... on either side of the spine on the inside of the pig..


Dehairing the pig with a blow torch.... you can skin the pig or scald and scrape..
Another method is lay the pig on a bed of straw then light the straw to burn the hair off...




Scrub and wash the pig....


Place on ice til needed...



Then start burning your wood. You need to use hardwood. Burn enough wood to make a bed of hot coals that are at least one foot deep. The deeper the better. You want the hot coals to cook the pig all night.








I injected the pig with a mixture of beef broth, onion and garlic powder and a bit of cayenne...
Then stuffed the cavity with onions, apples, whole heads of garlic, and jalapenos.




Also sprinkled the whole pig with a dry rub....




wrap the pig in a layer of foil, then burlap, then chicken wire.....



sew the chicken wire closed with baling wire and make LONG baling wire handles to help lower the pig into the pit and to help get the tender pig out when cooked....



Wet the burlap with water......



lay a grate on the hot coals. I like to lift the ends a bit with blocks....



lay some burned tin on the grate. This tin was saved from the last 3 pigs cooked underground. Do not use galvanized tin, but if you have to, make sure you burn it well before using.




Placed the seasoned, wrapped pig in the pit.....


Cover the hole.... I used some metal "lids" that I had on hand.. They are bare metal on the bottom, (do not use anything painted on the bottom)...



Then cover the whole thing with dirt. Make sure there is no smoke escaping... pile dirt especially around the edges to keep all air out of the hole.
Air in the hole will cause flair ups and the meat will burn.



Let the pig cook at least 12 hours...




Check the pigs temperature with an instant read thermometer if needed....





Lift the pig out of the pit using the baling wire handles....



The meat is so tender and juicy.....




By cooking the pig on it's back, the skin holds in the juices....









I sprinkled some of the pork with a dry rub and served several sauces on the side....










The pork with bacon wrapped corn, smoked tatoes, spicy shrimp, slaw, pinto beans, sauce and a cold beer. I forgot to get some garlic bread. (there was no way I could eat this plate full anyway:))










It was tasty and fun. :)



90 comments:

Chris said...

Wait a second....you didn't MAKE the backhoe on your own? I feel better now ;)

Great looking pig. On the blow torching picture? It's "Pig Brulee"!

Fantastic instructions and series here, J. This needs to be a tutorial for anyone looking to cook a pig.

Ken said...

Way to go Cowgirl, just one more for the road, You are incredible.
Fine job you have done with your tutorials and pics. So when does the Cowgirl Restaurant, OPEN?

Salmonclubber said...

Jeanie

That looks awesome it also looks like a lot of work WOW great job

cowgirl said...

lol Chris! I didn't make the backhoe...my little tractor wouldn't start either, The battery was dead. lol

The flaming of the pig smelled wonderful. lol

Thanks Chris!! :)

cowgirl said...

Thank you Ken! How are ya?
It was a lot of fun. :)
No way am I going to open a restaurant... that would take the fun out of it. :)
Thanks Ken. :)

cowgirl said...

Hey Huey! How have you been?
It was a lot of work but worth it in the end. :)
I should just cover the pit and use it again next time.
Hope you give it a try sometime! :)

Thanks Huey! :)

noskos said...

I already told you on the BBQ Brethren, that pig looks awesome!!!!

RDOwens said...

That is fantastic! Thank you for sharing this. Truly amazing stuff.

Big Dude said...

I'd have to believe everyone enjoyed that, cept maybe the hog.

cowgirl said...

Noskos thank you so much! I hope to post some pics on the Dutch forum too.
Thanks for stopping by, it's good to see you! :)

cowgirl said...

RD Thank you!! It looks like a lot of work but it's worth it. lol
I used to keep an open pit in a fenced off area just so I wouldn't have to dig a hole everytime. But the wind was too strong to burn wood there. I had to move the location to a more protected area.

Hope you give it a try! :)

cowgirl said...

lol Big Dude... you're right! :) Thanks!!

Frugal Canadian Hermit said...

That was pretty interesting Jeanie. Nicely done. I was at a big barn party once where they cooked a pig in the ground. Back then I did'nt really pay much attention to the cooking process, but it sure was a good feast. I guess my job was to try and empty the two large kegs of beer. I gave it my best shot, but we did'nt quite get the job done that night, so we had to continue the next morning.

tjus77 said...

AWESOME as usual. I still say you should do a cooking show with a helmet cam.... lol.

What dutch forum are you on?

cowgirl said...

lol Thank you Mark! That sounds like some party! Did ya make it through both kegs? :)
Reminds me of a time when some friends woke me up at 4 A.M. with a keg on my front porch. They were sure I needed to help them finish it. After some coaxing, they finally got me out onto the porch only to find out that there was about 1/2 a cup of beer left in the keg.
They woke me up for that? lol

You need to have a pig roast at your next four wheeling get together. :)

cowgirl said...

Thank you Tjus!! I want a fishing camping show. lol
I'll get that Dutch forum link to you. I'm having a hard time with my translations there but the pictures speak for themselves. lol
The people are really nice too!

David McGuire said...

Now that is a down home country feast there. Doing a whole pig in the ground is the only way to go. Its our favorite way up here anyhow. Your work from prep to finish looks perfect as usual.

Anonymous said...

wow! that does look fun, and very good. you've made me want to try it someday.

pid

Larry Wolfe said...

Incredible!

Rachel said...

Wow, great post! These are very helpful instructions and obviously worth all the work.

cowgirl said...

Hey David, how have you been? :)
I think this must be the okie/kansas/texas way to cook a pig. I know old timers have been doing it this way for years. Works great with goat too.
Thanks David!

cowgirl said...

Thank you pid, I hope you give it a try sometime! :)

cowgirl said...

Thanks Larry! :)

cowgirl said...

Thank you Rachel!
The nice part of it is letting the pig cook overnight. You don't have to tend a fire or watch the pit. :)

Anonymous said...

great! good to see you are having some fun. Life is Good.


Mike
(NYC)

cowgirl said...

Hey Mike! Good to see ya!
Hope all is well in NY. :)
The cookout was fun, I'll probably never cook again. lol J/K

Thanks!

Duane & Patricia said...

I remember living in Santa Fe and doing our Thanksgiving turkey in the backyard! I have never had a better one than that one done in the ground. The ground is too wet here in Indy to try it. (And I use to pray for rain!) Wonderful pics and tutorial. Thanks so much.

cowgirl said...

Thanks Duane and Patricia!
I bet that was a tasty turkey. :)
Briskets and goats are good too.. There's something about underground cooking that keeps the meat so moist and tender. Mmmmm... :)
Thanks for stopping by! :)

Anonymous said...

Ya sure you don't have any Cajun in ya? You, my dear, would make my grandpa proud.

cowgirl said...

:) Thank you Anonymous! I appreciate that. :)
I do have a good dose of southern blood in me.


Thanks for stopping by!

cooper boone said...

Boy does this bring back memories. I did that same thing 2 summers ago with a back hoe as well. 100 degrees in mid July in Upstate NY. We put too much wood underneath and when the unveiling came all we had were cinders...never laughed so hard in my entire life. Thanks for the memories. I gotta send you my album btw...I am country singer songwriter.
Cooper Boone

cowgirl said...

lol Bet you had a great time anyway!
I know what it's like to uncover a flaming pig but have never had one make it all the way to cinders... that must have been a sight! :)

Nice to meet you Cooper, I would love to hear your album.
Thanks and hope you have a great Christmas!
jeanie

Tropical Storm Eddie said...

Cowgirl,

I am a BBQ enthusiast and I think your blog is totally awesome. I will definitely. How much it a backhoe per hour.LOL

cowgirl said...

Thanks Eddie!! I paid him in food and beer. lol
Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it! :)

Sladel68 said...

I am truly impressed with the items I've seen on your blog spot so far. I think we must be kindred spirits from a former life or something.

Very nice work Cowgirl!!!

cowgirl said...

Thank you Sladel68! :)
Glad to hear you enjoyed my blog.. I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment too.
It's always nice to hear from kindred spirits. :)
Thanks....

Jos said...

In Mexico we call barbacoa this method of cooking, if you add maguey leaf would get a taste of the south.

saludos de Monterrey

cowgirl said...

Jos, thank you for the information on the barbacoa and the maguey leaf. I will see if I can find the leaves here in Oklahoma.

I am enjoying your blog, it's very nice!!
Thank you for stopping by my blog. :)

Jos said...

There are some maguey mezcal (Agave neomexicana and A. scabra) that can grow in your region and are available in nurseries in the United States. So, if you grow some of them on your ranch you can have pencas (agave leaf) to make your own barbecue pit.
The barbacoa of lamb in penca de maguey with morita chile sauce is delicious.

saludos

cowgirl said...

Thank you Jos! I will see what I can find in the nurseries here. It would be nice to be able to use the leaves... I imagine the flavor is wonderful!
I would love to try your lamb recipe. Sounds so tasty!

Your Camarones en salsa de limon pictures and recipe look amazing. I hope to make your recipe soon. :)

I see you are able to get the crawdads in the wild. That's nice, they are so tasty! :)

Thank you again Jos, Hope you have a nice week!

Comite de Manejo said...

I really like your blog and learn from your posts, the images are extraordinary, all the recipes look delicious.

saludos

jos

cowgirl said...

Thank you very much Jos! I have learned a lot from your blog too. Your recipes look wonderful.

Hope you have a nice weekend!

Anonymous said...

Love this pit bbq idea. The pig looks great. Can this pit be used for any other meats, like, say, tri tip, chicken, pork butt or shoulder?

cowgirl said...

Hi Anonymous!
I just sent an e-mail to you.
You can use these pits to cook anything.
Timing is the thing...
Plan on at least 8 hours for pork butts, briskets and turkeys.
Chickens take less time
Hogs take longer (overnight)
You might be better off with the cinderblock pit for cooking a variety at one time.

Hope this helps!

The Kinky Kitchen said...

You have never had "pork" until you had it this way and with a "Colorado Kool Aid" beverage to go along with it dang thats what I call heaven!!
Awesome job cowgirl and fantastic pics!!

cowgirl said...

Thanks so much Kinky Kitchen! :)
I catch so much heck for my Colorado Kool Aid, it's nice to meet someone who enjoys it as much as I do. lol
Hope you are having a great weekend, thanks for stopping by. :)

Woogeroo said...

Howdy.

That is so awesome.

Thanks a bunch for going to the trouble to document this and share it with everyone.

I'm gonna try this one day... I know a fella that lives in the country... I might have to take a road trip.

-W

cowgirl said...

Thank you so much Woogeroo! :)
I've done many underground cooks and decided to keep track just in case someone else wanted to see what it's like.
The meat comes out so tender and juicy. Also has a nice smoked flavor.
Hope you give it a try!
Thanks again! :)

Anonymous said...

My family used to cook underground all the time, especially when we are having a family reunion and we have been having them for 43 years. My uncle; rest his sole would bury a whole cow and large lard cans with beans. yummie.

cowgirl said...

Sounds tasty Anonymous! I bet that was a big hole to hold a cow.
Underground beans are one of my favorites too.
It's a great way to feed a crowd.
Thanks for stopping by!

Leia said...

We are having a large party this weekend. I have found your site extremely helpful. We are cooking a half pig weighing approximately 80 pounds. Would we shorten the cooking time?

cowgirl said...

Hi Leia! I would definately cut the time down for an 80lb 1/2. Probably will take 8 to 10 hours.
Make sure to use hardwood for your hot coals. They will last the longest.
Good luck!! :)

mapleguy said...

Great job documenting the whole process! I'm inspired. We're going to do a hog, second week of August for 35 people. How big should it be?

cowgirl said...

Thank you Mapleguy!
I would go with at least a 60lb pig. If you have leftovers you can freeze them for later.
I hope you have great luck with the cook. Make sure you use hardwood for your coals, bury the pit so no smoke escapes or air gets in too.
Best of luck to you! :)

MapleGuy said...

I'm pumped!!! Got my hog reserved this morning. 79lbs...How long should I plan to have it in the pit?

cowgirl said...

That's great MapleGuy! I'd let it go for 8 to 10 hours. Make sure the hot bed coal is deep too. At least a foot of hardwood coals...
and when you bury the pit, check for any smoke seeping out. Cover all holes with dirt so no air will get into the pit.
Good luck with it!

Dominic Souza said...

Aloha Cowgirl,

Just wanted to say that I enjoyed your tutorial for underground cooking. Did it weekly for years growing up now passing it on to the next generation. So they will have the knowledge when it comes time for thier own Luau. Yeah the banana and Ti leaves are a covering but the Banana Stumps are the real key ;) thanks again for sharing!

Aloha from Hawaii!!!

cowgirl said...

Aloha Dominic!
Your underground cook sounds wonderful, I'm sure it is very tasty! It's great that you are passing your knowledge on to the next generation...underground cooking your way is an art form!

I imagine the banana stumps add an amazing flavor to the pig.
Thanks so much for stopping by Dominic, I appreciate your kind comment!

Dom said...

Aloha Again Cowgirl!
Thanks for your kind comments! When I was growing up this type of thing was a regular occurence. Nowadays the Keiki (Kids) are more into games or shopping than hunting,fishing,diving living off the land. Yes, the banana stumps are for moisture as well. Because of the fact that we use Imu rocks to keep heat longer. Without the stumps and leaves the items being cooked would burn. Enjoy your blog and will check back often.

Mahalo Nui Loa,

Dom

cowgirl said...

Aloha Dom and you're very welcome.
It sounds like we might be kindred spirits. :) Hunting, fishing, outdoor cooking and living off the land are a way of life for me too.
I love the outdoors.
Thank you for the information about the imu rocks too. I can see how they would be a great help in holding the heat in the pit.
I was in Hawaii several years ago and absolutely loved it. I missed out on an underground cook but maybe next time I'll take one in.
Thanks again Dom, it's nice to see you. :)

yzracer88 said...

I'm cooking a 250 pound hog. How long should it cook. Thanks mark

cowgirl said...

Hi Mark,
I assume that is still on the hoof and not cleaned or are you cooking a 250lber? Either way it will take quite awhile.
Plan on at least 15 hours and leave yourself an extra couple of hours before the party in case you need more cooking time.
I like to bury them at night and let them cook all night.

For a pig that big you need a really deep bed of hot coals, 2ft wouldn't hurt. Use hardwood to make the coals. They last longer in the pit.
Around here, old hedge fence posts work the best the are hard as a rock and burn long. Not sure where you are located... but find the hardest wood you can get.
Oak is good.

It takes 3 to 4 hours to burn enough wood to get the deep bed of hot coals too.. so plan on taking two days to do the pig unless you get up really early to do it. :)

Hope this helps ya Mark, let me know if it didn't.
Good luck to you!

yzracer88 said...

Still on the hoof. I'm in Kansas so hedge is no problem. Thanks mark

cowgirl said...

Mark you're welcome. It's great that you have hedge too...cured hedge is my favorite wood to use.

I usually lay the pig on it's back in the pit..the skin holds in the juices. On larger hogs sometimes it's hard to get them to stay on their back so I lay them on their side. Still works fine.

Recruit help! :)
Hope you have a nice cookout Mark. :)

Tim said...

Hi Cowgirl, this info has been so helpful, thanks so much. I'm going to roast a 160 pound pig (dressed weight) in a pit like you described but it is lined with rock on bottom and all four sides. I'm wanting to stuff the inside with sour kraut and cabbage, veggies etc. is this a good idea or not so much. Also how long should I cook it for both stuffed and or empty. I have enough wood to make about 16 in. of hot coals. Any and all info would be very much appreciated. Thanks Tim

cowgirl said...

Thank you Tim! I'm glad to hear my pics have been helpful to you.
I've not used rocks in a pit but bet they would be a big help holding in heat. I use hardwood for the hot coals so they will last long enough for the pig to cook. One that size would take 12 to 14 hours at the least I would bet. They do take longer when stuffed too.
It's best to allow an extra hour or two too ... just to be sure it is cooked. It's so hard to put an exact time on a whole pig.
I like to let them cook overnight.

Some folks like to put the hot rocks inside of the pig cavity too to cook them faster. If you give that a try, let me know if it works for you.

Sorry I can't be more specific on a time Tim. Good luck, hope it all comes out well for you!

Tim said...

Hi Cowgirl, thanks again for the info. How long can you keep the pig in the ground without the fear of over cooking. I'm doing a smaller pig (120 lb. and sfuffing the inside w/sour kraut and sausage) this weekend before I attempt the big one. Should this one go 12-15 hours as well? Thanks Tim

cowgirl said...

Hi Tim! You're welcome.
I've not left one in the ground too long. There is more of a problem of not having a deep enough bed of hot coals to last through the cook.
Once you get the pig in the ground the coals will start tapering off...not getting any hotter. SO you want enough to last the whole cook.
At the end of the cook most of the coals will be out but the pig will still be warm.
I would still go with 12 to 15 hrs on the 120lb stuffed pig. It is better to plan on extra time than to run short.
Remember to use hard wood to make the hot coals so they will last.

Good luck Tim!!

Adam and Adele Forsberg said...

Hi, Question for you....In Hawaii we make Kalua pig using Kiawe wood and stones to hold the heat, now that I'm living in Minnesota there is no Kiawe wood;) You mentioned "hard wood"...any types in particular?

cowgirl said...

Hi Adam and Adele!
I use "well seasoned" hedge wood also called Osage orange. It burns hot and long. There aren't many trees in my area so my options are limited.
Oak would be an excellent wood for underground cooking, also hickory.
Good luck to you!

Mr. Hugus said...

I typically smoke pork when I cook it and want to try doing a whole pig this summer w/o losing the smoking flavor I get when smoking meats. Does this method as you did it impart a good smoky flavor?

cowgirl said...

Hello Mr Hugus!
Yes the hardwoods used give the pig a nice smokey flavor. The meat is moist and tender too.
Works great on goat, beef heads, briskets, turkeys...just about any large cut of meat.
Thanks for stopping by!

Tribal said...

I will be doing this same style of pig roast this weekend. I have roasted a few pigs over a fire with a spit, but this is the first time I will be trying the 'underground' method. Do you happen to remember the size of the hog you used and how long it took? I have a 130lb pig, so trying to get a rough idea of how long to keep it buried. I was told 1hr / 10lbs...I can't wait though!!

cowgirl said...

Hi Tribal!
I did not weigh this pig...just fed it out and butchered when it was time for the cook.
I've cooked pigs as small as 75lbs and some over 200lbs. The 1 hr per 10lbs is a good guestimation. :)
Remember to have the hot coal bed deep enough to last all night and use only hard woods.
I have told people that they might try inserting a remote thermometer into a ham to keep an eye on the temp...but I have never done this.

I lay the pig on it's back. the skin protects the meat and holds in the juices. The skin is not edible like on a roasted pig.

Hope you have great luck with it Tribal! I would love to hear about your cook if you get the time.
Thanks for stopping by my blog! :)

Joseph Morgan said...

Where/how did you aquire the large sheets of burlap and foil?

cowgirl said...

Hi Joseph,
The foil is just regular wide heavy duty foil from the grocery store.
I had burlap on hand but you can get it at a sewing store by the yard. Some discount stores like walmart carry burlap cloth by the yard.
Hope this helps ya!

Dave Ledgerwood said...

Curious...How does the pig turn out differently if you cook it using this method vs. the cinder block method? The pit method appears to be more of an anaerobic / steaming method. I would guess that the lack of air controls the temperature, and sealing the pig underground prevents the loss of moisture.

The cinder block process seems to be me more like hot smoking.

cowgirl said...

Yes Dave you are right. The underground pit keeps meat moist. Works great for any kind of meat...pigs, turkeys, goats, deer, etc..
The block pit is hot smoking. Meats are kept moist by brining or injecting.
Out of the two methods, the underground pits puts out the most tender, moist meat than any above ground pit.

Hope you give it a try sometime!
Thanks for stopping by. :)

Jeffrey Masters said...

Hey Cowgirl,
I noticed that you are headed out fishing, so you may not get this in time....but here goes.
How long does it take to burn down the wood?? We have a trailer load of split oak and poplar, and are doing 2 120 lb hogs for my cousins wedding(good lord I hope this turns out, or his Momma will kill me).
I think we have everything ready, but I have never done this before except for a bunch of drunks, who would have loved horse apples by the time we were done.
Seriously though, we need an approximate time on the burn down, because of the wedding, and some people wanting hot food instead of underdone, or cold.
Thanks for the blog, and I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

cowgirl said...

Hi Jeffrey, Hope it's not too late...
Takes about 4 hours to get the hot coal bed deep enough.
Start burning a few logs and when they get down to hot coals, throw a few more logs on.. keep going until the hot coals are a foot deep. The more the better. You want them to last the whole cook.
I like to do this the night before ( about 7 pm) and have the pig in the ground by 11 then let it cook overnight.
Plan on adding a couple hours for anything that goes wrong.

The most I hear about is people not getting the hot coal bed deep enough or not using hard wood and they don't last through the cook.
Good luck to you!! Hope it all goes well!!

Jeffrey Masters said...

Cowgirl, thanks so much for the information. Because of the threat of rain, we are starting a day early, and will cool all of the meat down, and reheat it on a grill, in foil pans. Thanks again for the help, and I'll let you know how it goes. I hope to get some good pictures, so I might send a couple.
Thanks again, Jeff

cowgirl said...

You're sure welcome Jeff, Good luck! :)

Jeffrey Masters said...

Cowgirl, I sure appreciate your help. Because of rain in the forecast, we decided to cook the pig on Friday, cool the meat, and reheat it on sat. Nothing went right on Friday, and both our pits filled with water, so we called around in a panic until we found a grill large enough to cook two hogs on. Everything turned out ok, I finished pulling the pork just before the reception, and everyone loved it.
Thanks again for the help, and I cant wait to try one in the ground.
Jeff

cowgirl said...

So sorry to hear about the rain Jeff! Glad that everything turned out well for you.
Better luck next time. :)
Thanks for letting me know!

Joseph Morgan said...

I just wanted to stop and say thanks for this site! Last Friday I sat out in the rain burning a fire in my pit all day long (~.3 inches, so not enough to hurt the pit or fire). Put the pig in about midnight and at noon the next day, (with thankfully better weather) everyone was amazed at the site that we dug out! My first ever pig roast was a success and fed ~120 people! Couldn't have done it without you!

cowgirl said...

Joseph, I am so happy to hear!! :)
Sounds lke you had rough conditions with the rain but great that it all worked out well for you!
I really appreciate you taking the time to let me know. You've made my day. Thanks Joseph! :)

Scott Robertson said...

Hi from Canada Cowgirl!
Wondering if you might be able to offer any thoughts on alternatives for burning hard wood. We are going to try this the first weekend in July, and will have a tough time finding hardwood in northern Saskatchewan. Have you tried using charcoal briquettes?

Really appreciate your blog, it is exactly what I was looking for when we set out to try a pig roast. Really excited to give it a try!
Thanks for your help with the hardwood problem.
Cheers
Scott

cowgirl said...

Hi Scott, it's nice to meet you!
Hard wood is the best thing to use. Even store bought hard wood lump coal doesn't seem to last as long as when you burn it yourself.
I've used briquettes and they do work if you use enough of them. The idea is to have enough to last the 12 or so hours that it takes to cook the pig. Most charcoal burns up after a few hours.
Not sure if this is of any help to you Scott, sorry!!
Hope you have great luck with the pig, I'd love to see pics when you get it cooked if you get the time.

Thanks for stopping by!

Kalvin Baker said...

I got to say that this looks awesome. A buddy of mine and myself have actually been studdying this so that we can do ours. I'm excited! Can't wait!

I haven't seen any yet, but do you have any projects concerning black pot cooking?

cowgirl said...

Thank you Kalvin! They turn out pretty moist and tender in the underground pit. Nice smokey flavor too.
Hope you have great luck with yours!

By black pot cooking do you mean cast iron? There are a few cooks scattered around my blog. I use cast iron a lot... camping too. Also have a few dutch oven cooks here.
I need to spend more time on my blog organizing things. Most of the time I'd rather be outside than on the puter. :)

Thanks for stopping by, hope you have a great weekend!