Excuses, excuses, and updates

I get lost in hands-on work frequently. Not just creative hands-on stuff, but the day to day effort of keeping a big house clean, managing the Airbnb side of things, placing yet another online order for tools and materials, repairing things, calling my neighbor Frank to see how many eggs he can coerce his chickens into laying for us by a certain date, shoveling. Good lord, the shoveling. So, lost in my world of day-to-day, survival stuff, I tend to forget that there is a world outside of The Homestead. A world full of people that we've met, who have passed through our lives here in Detroit and people who have yet to visit and people who may never find themselves here but are, astoundingly, interested in what we're doing. People who might like to read and see some pictures.

And it's not only the busy-ness of business and life, but adjusting to this new reality where self-promotion should be (and, though infrequently is) a thing that we do. I'll be honest, guys, I'm really uncomfortable saying "Look at us! Look at what we're doing! Isn't it great? Care about it!" I am not good about feeling justified in saying that. Even though I love and deeply believe in what we're doing and what we make and our own little fight against the nine-to-five life, I am acutely aware of the fact that everyone has their struggles and triumphs. So, in a universal sense, I don't feel like our stories and efforts are any more deserving of publicity than anyone else's. I find it difficult to write in an impersonal just-the-facts way, too, but, this is, after all, our story. And we've got skin in the game. So I want to tell it straight, and I want to tell it as though I would tell a friend. And that worries me, too, because I'm sure that I'll come off as neurotic, or self absorbed, or naive, or whatever anyone reading this might conclude from my limited verbal ability to express the realities of our lives and our struggles and triumphs. Or maybe I'll be too personal, or I'll just say something weird or wrong and then people might see it. So, you see, I've got a lot of excuses for why I'm not blogging weekly, or even monthly...at least not yet. Truth is, I have no idea what I'm doing. In anything. Ever. But especially when it comes to intentionally calling attention to myself. So bear with me as I get used to it.

Playing with toys older than all of us put together back at the family farm on Christmas Day.

Playing with toys older than all of us put together back at the family farm on Christmas Day.

So recently the holidays blew past us. It was, along with the weather here in Detroit following, an...aggressive experience. I mean that in a (mostly) good way - lots of food and drink and catching up with friends the likes of which I hadn't seen in a decade. But lots of driving (and later shoveling) and not much sleep, too, so we're still recovering and feeling like it would be nice if the rest of the winter is a little less manic and snowy and cold.

Developments in our endeavors have been many, though. We've added some new tools to the creative arsenal, not the least of which is a camera that takes beautiful pictures with less cursing and wasted time than the dinosaur that we were trying to work with previously. So we can hopefully look forward to more fully and attractively documented projects. There are some new additions to the fabric side of things, too. My old sewing machine bit the dust mid-leggings shortly before Christmas and sent me frantically trying to find a reliable replacement, finally landing us at a tiny, unassuming shop on the West Side where we were able to get an expertly restored machine older than myself that should serve me for many decades to come (Nacho Sewing Machine, if you're in Detroit). With next to no options and a tank-like construction, I'm in love. As they say, they just don't make 'em like that anymore.

We're both really excited for this upcoming farm season, too. My family loves to manipulate people into acquiring animals and taking on new projects, and this Christmas was no exception for me or anyone else (not pictured above - the tiny two-month-old piglet that joined my cousin's growing family). Not only did we get more books and materials and lots of support, but my aunt and uncle slyly gifted us with a gift certificate to Efowl.com and a promise of coming to visit this season so that they can meet our new chickens. So we're definitely obligated to introduce chickens this year. Fine by me. Just a little added motivation to build the garage/coop/mini greenhouse out back that we've been talking about anyway.

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And then, of course, there is the leafing through seed catalogs trying to not get too giddy and carried away by the allure of growing a thousand different heirlooms in the additional space that we plan to cultivate as soon as weather allows. Common sense would seem to dictate that we should simply sign up with Keep Growing Detroit again this year and get more seeds and transplants than we can reasonably put in the ground for next-to-nothing, but we are nothing if not too independently minded, and I can't resist flashy photos of old American vegetables and fruits, the kinds that have been a part of homesteads here since the early days. We did KGD last year, after all, and though it was a critical part of our first year's success in the garden, we've grown in confidence and capacity and we're ready to pick out our own plants, start from seed, and see what succeeds and fails on our own.

It wouldn't be as much fun if we didn't have a real challenge ahead of us, after all.

Alyssa Trimmer