Uhh...so I guess we're doing seasonal updates now, because it turns out that expanding the farm by a factor of three or so requires not only a lot of initial start-up work, but WAY MORE WEEDING than I somehow prepared myself or prepared to enlist the aid of guests and friends for. And it's summer, you know, so we have to go out for bike rides mostly every day, too, which leaves less time for blogging, and I can't possibly be expected to sit inside and write when there are amazing 9:30pm sunsets to watch accompanied by the growing chorus and display of the crickets and fireflies outside. I'm hardly immune to the all encompassing enthrall of the Midsummer's warm embrace, after all, particularly after having had to shed so many layers of woolen knits from this winter what seems like just a few weeks ago.
And more people seem to be stopping by and spending time in the dirt with us, too, either just to chat, or to take lettuce and kale off of our hands, or, in the case of the neighbor kids, try to eat as many strawberries as they can before I catch them and tell them that the strawberries are compensation for taking an active hand in the garden and to please help me with pulling the weeds and hey don't step on the flower beds! So, despite the fact that I'm terrible at trying to plead with others to come help out and at convincing the neighbors that this garden could be as much theirs as it is anyone's, we have had a few more hands helping on a semi regular basis. More neighbors and friends wanting but not having their own garden to get dirty in, more people stopping by to seek advice or just chat, and even rumors of an agricultural collective taking shape between us and the many other gardening/farming neighbors, whispers of a hyper-local farmer's market taking shape for next year. All of a sudden it seems like something is happening here in our immediate little corner of Detroit....and all it took was a few gardens!
We finally erected the vertical garden/green wall running along the southwestern side of the house after two years of planning to get around to it - intended to both support climbing plants and reduce the amount of heat being collected by the house in the height of summer - and are still working on saving up for the arbor tunnel that we plan to construct for the squash and cucumbers and melons to climb on, and to provide a shaded promenade down the center of the garden. Since the lots, when empty, were used as a common thoroughfare for foot traffic between the street and alleyway, we didn't want to prevent people from cutting through; and since our squash, when grown in mounds last year were a mess, plagued with powdery mildew and choked with weeds, we're optimistic that this provides an elegant way to further wrangle the chaos of the garden into something more manageable. It may not happen this season, like the bees and chickens still haven't happened, but we're doing our best to be patient despite our enthusiasm/impatience to develop the whole project right now, even though we couldn't possibly even if we had all of the money in the world. Creating a maxed-out homestead with only limited prior experience and on a shoestring, out of empty urban lots and a shell of a house takes time and, just as importantly, a lot of reading and learning and observing and understanding the property and land and community and weather. So although we wish we already had the structures, the water collection, the bees, chickens, rabbits, and goats, the solar power, the wood stoves...we continue to make as much progress as our time and finances allow. Suddenly the two-year plan probably looks more like a five-year plan, but as long as we keep our heads above water and make even incremental progress, then we're on the way and that's what counts.
Indoors, Matt has been making as much progress as possible on the new e-cig mod between all of the other work, between taking time to sleep, between waiting for the delivery of new components... This one is intended to improve upon the Ironwood electronically, aesthetically, and from a production (and therefore price!) standpoint too, so it's a total re-work of the initial concepts. While it's not ready to show off just yet, we're getting close to being able to complete assembly, polish #01 up, take some photos, and post it in the store, and while we don't want to give too much away and spoil the surprise, suffice it to say that it will be a finely crafted wood and steel variable voltage mod, aesthetically similar in design to the Ironwood, but with a sleeker, more refined construction, and with a host of functional improvements. We're super excited to show it off, and hopeful that this one will really take off and enable us to operate at a level as a small business that we've been aspiring to for some time, giving us the opportunity (and necessity) to hire some additional assistance in the workshop, and maybe even allowing us to set aside enough for some new tools...but we'll save all of that for another blog post....soon!