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Month: February 2017

Identifying Our Dependencies on Food

Identifying Our Dependencies on Food

As we begin to travel down the road towards our homesteading dream we thought it would be a good idea to list out the dependencies we have on things. We are beginning to think of ways to be less dependent on things and to become more self-sufficient.

This is the first post in a series of posts where we will go through the main areas of our lives as we strive to simplify them.

Food

We currently make at least one trip a week to the grocery store, but we are in the process of trying to cut that back to twice a month. Below are the most common items that we buy, and ways that we are trying to be less dependent on the grocery store with them.

Milk

Milk CanIt would be nice to have a cow or a goat to provide our milk, but where we live that is not possible. For the time being, we’ll continue to buy milk from the store.

Eggs

Our family goes through a lot of eggs, almost 3 dozen a week. We are in the process of building a chicken coop and then we will be getting some chickens to produce our eggs!

Cheese

Until we are able to produce/get raw milk, we’ll continue to have to buy cheese from the store. We do want to start shopping at our local farmers market, so maybe we’ll be able to buy cheese there.

Bread

We hardly ever buy bread at store anymore, as we typically make 2 loafs every week or so. We do want to start making our buns though.

Chicken

cooked chickenWhere we live we are not allowed to butcher our chickens, so we are stuck with either buying them from the store, or the farmer’s market.

Meat

In the past we have bought a quarter of a cow from a local farm, and that was great. We need to look into doing that again until we can raise our own animals. I also want to take up hunting, as our family loves the taste of deer meat.

Fruit

We currently buy most of our fruit from the grocery store, but would like to start buying it at the farmers market where we can. We would also like to plant some fruit trees, but we’re not sure how long we are going to be at this location.

Vegetables

VeggiesFor the last couple of years we have had a small garden which has produced some of our veggies, but not all of them. This year we hope to double our yield from last year, especially with tomatoes. For the veggies that we are not able to grow, we hope to buy them from the farmer’s market and can them so we can have real veggies all year.

Nuts

Like the fruit trees, we’d love to plant some nut trees, but we’re hoping to move to a larger piece of land in a few years (maybe). We may plant some regardless, at least to benefit the people who come after us.

As you see, we have a lot of work to do! These are just some of the food items that we buy, but they are the big ones that we want to focus on first.

In the next post we are going to focus on some of the household items that we want to start making ourselves.

Until next time, God Bless and Happy Homesteading!

Andrew & Maria

A Digitally Organized Homestead

A Digitally Organized Homestead

Howdy Homestead Dreamers, we hope you are doing well!

Being organized is something that we can all improve on. In this post I want to share the ways that we have become more digitally organized on the homestead.

Managing Digital and Physical Photos

Like us, I’m sure everyone has 1 million photos, digital and physical, of pretty much anything and everything. With smartphones these days, it just too easy to snap photos. With the ease of snapping photos, the problem arises when it comes to the question of “what the heck am I going to do with all of these photos?”

What To Do with Physical Photos

photographsWe have found that with the physical photos, it’s better to scan them and import them into whatever photo program you are using (more on that in a minute). Physical photos can come at you from all directions – family, friends, coworkers, photo albums, etc. Before you know it, there can be stacks of photos everywhere, cluttering both your mind and your space.

Scanning your physical photos is the solution. Yes this is going to be a time-consuming activity, but it’s going to be well worth the effort. If you have a smartphone, there are a ton of scanning apps out there on the market that will make this a cinch, we recommend PhotoScan by Google (free). If you don’t have a smartphone, a regular desktop scanner will do the trick, although this will take a lot more time. Additionally, if you don’t have a scanner, we would recommend the Epson Perfection V600 Color Photo scanner, as this takes an excellent scan of both photos and documents.

What To Do with Digital Photos

As I had mentioned earlier, smartphones have made it super easy to take tons of photos quickly, but you’ll soon find that they’ll use up your phone’s storage very quickly. There are a ton of services out there that will help you solve this problem including Dropbox, Google Photos, iCloud Photos, Amazon Photos and many more. Over the years we have tried out pretty much all of these services, and what we currently use and recommend are a Dropbox/Google Photos combination.

All of the services listed above have their pros and cons but we use a Dropbox/Google Photos combination because we have found that it works best for us. Both of these services will automatically upload your photos off your smartphone and back them up for you. The way we currently have it setup is that we use Dropbox, which is a service we pay for, for the permanent home of all of our original quality photos. Dropbox is a solid service which has excellent syncing capabilities and the best reliability. We also use Google Photos in combination with Dropbox for a couple of reasons. Google Photos will also automatically upload your photos from your phone, and will do it for free, but not at their original quality. This is okay for us since we use Dropbox to store the originals at full quality. Google Photos offers excellent facial recognition of photos, makes it easy to quickly organize your photos into albums and videos, and makes it super to easy to share photos with family and friends.

No matter which service you choose to go with for your digital photos, we do recommend at least going with one of them so that your photos are backed up securely.

Organizing Your Digital Photos

Now that all of your photos are safely backed up off of your phone and all of your physical photos have been scanned digitally, you’ll want to make sure you have a good system in place to keep them organized. The first thing I would recommend would be to have a good naming convention for your photos. What I have found works best is to name them in the format Year-Month-Day-Time. Some services, such as Dropbox, do this automatically for you as it uploads them from your phone which is just one less thing for you to do.

The next thing you’ll want to consider is your folder structure that you want to use for your photos so that’ll you’ll know where to find them. We use the following structure which has worked pretty good for us the last couple of years.

  • Around the House
  • Birthdays
  • Children
  • Events & Places
  • Holidays
  • Misc
  • School
  • Trips
  • Weddings
  • Work

So there you have it, organized digital photos! To quickly sum up this section, as it got pretty lengthy, here are the quick takeaways.

  • Scan your physical photos (and upload to the online service of your choosing).
  • Subscribe to a service that will automatically upload the photos from your smartphone.
  • Ensure you have convention for you photos in place and use it consistently.
  • Have a good folder struture in place and use it consistently.

Reducing Paper Clutter

stack of papersAs with photos, staying on top of all of the papers floating around your homestead is a must and will help you feel much more organized. For us, pretty much any paper that comes into house, gets scanned and then organized and backed up into Dropbox (all of the services listed above also allow you to store documents as well). Instead of filing cabinets in our house, we have folders in Dropbox where all of these documents are stored. For the majority of our bills and the like, we have switched over to receive electronic versions instead of paper, which makes it simple to save right into it’s designated folder. Try and set aside some time each week to scan documents so that you can have a more paper-free homestead! 🙂

Organizing Your Digital Life

Whether you choose to scan/upload your photos, documents, or both, it’s important to remember that having a good naming convention and a good folder structure is a must. Just like anything, if you don’t keep up with this organization, it will soon become a mess, but if you spend just a little bit time each week maintaining it, you’ll be a lot more better off.

With any online service, it’s also important to mention that although uploading them to the internet is a good way to back up your photos and documents, what if something happens to that online service? You’ll always want to ensure you have a backup of all your files both locally, either on your computer or on an external hard drive, as well as backed up online.

We hope that this article has given you some ideas of how you digitally organize your homestead! If you have any questions or comments, you can either email us or leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Until next time, God Bless and Happy Homesteading!

Andrew & Maria

Our Homesteading Goals for 2017

Our Homesteading Goals for 2017

Howdy Homestead Dreamers, we hope that this post finds you well!

So believe it or not, it is already February. Time sure flies when you’re having fun 🙂

Well since we only have 11 months left in the year, we better go ahead and post our goals… We plan to post our goals at the end of each year (for the coming year), to let you guys know what we plan to work on, and to give our readers some ideas of possible goals they could follow if they are on the same journey as us.

Without further ado, our goals for 2017 are the following –

Start a Blog (this one) About Our Homesteading Dreams and Journey

Starting a blog about our homesteading journey has always been an idea that we tossed around up until recently. We wanted to start a blog about our journey not just so we could look back on it, but to share it, and hopefully inspire others to pursue such a fulfilling lifestyle.

We just started this blog last month, so we wanted to include this goal in our yearly goals because there is still a lot we want to do with our blog and a ton of information that we want to share!

Start Raising Chickens for Egg Laying

eggsWe’re not sure about you, but our family, Maria and I, and our 3 young boys, eat a ton of eggs! Really though, we go through about 2-3 dozen of eggs a week. So in an effort to become more self-sufficient and less dependent on the grocery store, we decided that we are going to start raising chickens. Neither of us have ever raised chickens before, but we’re going to dive right in. The building of the chicken coop is currently underway and we’ll have more details about that in an upcoming post.

Get Our Children More Connected with Nature

butterfly.jpgAs we had mentioned previously, we are homeschooling our children. Another one of our goals this year is to get our children more connected with nature. What we mean by this is that we want them to spend more time outside than they do inside. We want them to get muddy, to learn about nature, to find bugs, to help with yard work, and to just take it all in without having a screen in front of them. Besides our backyard, we plan to provide many opportunities for discovery, enrichment, and exploration!

Evaluate What Skills We Have and What Skills We Want to Learn

Homesteading is so great in that anyone, from any background can do it. As we pursue our homesteading dreams, another one of our goals is to evaluate what skills we currently have, and what skills we want to learn in order to do the things that we want to do in a more self-sufficient way.

Start Making Our Own Household Items

soap.jpgThis year, as I have already touched on a couple times now, we want to become less dependent on the system and more dependent on doing things ourselves. This leads us to our goal of starting to make our own household items. We want to work ourselves off of buying things like body soap, dish soap, glass cleaner, lotion, shampoo, etc., and start making it our self.

Begin Researching Ways to Make Additional Income

The last main area of focus for this year is on our income. I currently work a full-time job and my wife currently works a part-time job, but we want to start researching ways that we could possibly start some sort of home business where our family can be together more throughout the day.

Well there you have it, our Homesteading goals for 2017. We’ll be posting updates to these goals throughout the year to help keep us on track and to share our progress with you.

To help you achieve your #1 goal, we recommend The Freedom Journal.

Until next time, God Bless and Happy Homesteading!

Andrew & Maria