Posts tagged workshop
Harvest, preserve, retreat indoors

I'll be honest, at this point, I feel like this post is almost exclusively to relieve the guilt that I have about not blogging for the last hmrhsmchsomething months by offloading a bunch of pictures onto the internet to fill the space and save my words-ed out brain from having to write too much, so I can get back to the sanding and drilling and polishing and cutting and pressing and sewing and cooking and webmastering and Airbnbing.

Not that this is news to me exactly, but it turns out that it's actually really difficult to continue maintaining the "do 100% everything with our own two hands" thing and keep up with it all when we ceaselessly add more things to the pile because we're loathe to choose one thing over another and will just do all the things until we die instead so long as our time and energy and health and razor-thin budget will allow. Surely there are diagnoses for this sort of attitude, but who cares (not us)? We couldn't afford to hire out if we wanted to anyway and I fear that we would somehow be taking something away from ourselves in doing so. So sometimes long-overdue writing goes by the wayside, a casualty of our reluctance to dilute our efforts, and a casualty of my frequent desire to sew and sand and strum instead of write. Until we either become Doctor Manhattans operating outside of the bounds of time and space, find a way to add more people who value productivity and independence far more than their sanity to the project, have some huge financial windfall land on us, or some combination thereof, here I am, blogging once every hmrhsmchsomething months.

I make magnificent excuses, don't I? At least lengthy ones. 

The good news is that, while I may be garbage at weekly or even monthly blogging, I am less garbage at updating our social media presence! So if you thirst for more snippets of our work and life, you can mosey on over to Frontier Industry, LLC on Facebook and/or our Instagram page and keep up with our far more frequent updates there about what we're fussing with in the garden and kitchen and workshops and new products as they're completed and posted. 

So, what about all of those pictures I was talking about, eh? I'm such a liar when it comes to promises of conciseness. 

The bulk of the last few months was occupied by slowly putting the garden to bed - harvesting, composting, and doing the first cover cropping that we've tried out so far, though that last thing didn't happen until quite late in the season and will probably wind up being minimally effective, especially considering the very cold November that just passed. And, of course, the preserving! We planted so much more this year and though we shared generously with interested passers-by, friends, and neighbors, we ended the season with a truly monstrous amount of collard greens and kale, resulting in the crock pot going nonstop for the better part of two weeks, cooking them down by two-gallon-sized batches into prepared greens for the freezer. After that it was the seemingly endless task of washing, chopping, blanching, and freezing the beets, carrots, and parsnips. But after a month in the kitchen, we end this year's garden with a full chest freezer, another milestone in our endeavors to be more self sufficient. 

The next hurdle may well be our impending adventures in trying to finally buy the land that we've been farming for two years now, but I'm not even slightly prepared to begin knowing where to start on that one. Detroit real estate is many things....simple and straightforward is rarely one of them. So we'll save that bit for the springtime.


And one last minor plant-related development: we finally got our indoor hydroponic garden set up! Having a few of these set up in a sunny spot indoors is a perfect way to preserve cuttings from plants that did particularly well outside this year, not to mention a good way to have a kitchen herbs on hand throughout the year!

In addition to the effort of wrapping up the garden for the season, we've been busy in the workshops, Matt turning out a batch of the Metropolis mods (the first time he's ever been able to do a proper run of them to be put in the store for immediate sale, without the 2-4 week long turn around time otherwise!), and me working on as many new items of clothing as our budget for fabric will allow, in addition to expanding my own work with wood to include jewelry and knickknacks and whatnots, using the leftover wood from Matt's work and other collected materials from my meanderings. We've been expanding into new techniques and materials in both fabrics and woods, which keeps things creatively interesting, but is also in pursuit of chasing down a niche in which to work that is creatively inspired, practical for our own purposes, and can find us a larger market so that we can leverage ourselves out of the "hopefully we can pay all of the bills this winter" category and into something a little more reliable.

If we can keep up our hustle, perhaps this time next year we'll be set up to work with a serger and some high-performance, high-durability technical fabrics in the sewing shop and maybe even a desktop CNC in the workshop for speedier turnaround on mods (not to mention all of the other amazing stuff we could dream up with a tool like that). It's exciting to feel like maybe there's some surer footing growing under our feet, that maybe there isn't a futility in trying to find purchase for our creative pursuits. Maybe we can make this artist thing actually work out. For now we're happy just to have the vintage tank of a sewing machine and band saw and estate-sale-please-just-get-this-off-my-hands drill press and the sander and our dusty and calloused hands....for now. So much for hibernating! I think it's going to be a busy winter...

First of the flowers! Poppies, bachelor's buttons, and dill

First of the flowers! Poppies, bachelor's buttons, and dill 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.

Getting ready for way too much garlic

Getting ready for way too much garlic

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!

Now, climb, beans!

Now, climb, beans!

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.

The new mod takes shape...

The new mod takes shape...

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!