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Being Prepared on the Homestead: Bad Weather

Being Prepared on the Homestead: Bad Weather

A few nights ago we had a HUGE storm blow through. It woke the kids up and it kept my wife and I up for most of the night. Not only were there torrential downpours for hours, but also thunder/lightening, hail and strong winds. It was quite a site to see as I watched (during bursts of lightening) a valley in the backyard fill up with water and get larger and larger.

As I laid in bed trying to fall back asleep amidst loud bursts of thunder and pounding rain on the roof, I started realizing how unprepared our family is if our power would have went off or worse…

We are completely dependent on the power grid, and like many, this hasn’t really crossed our minds as much as it should. It takes storms and situations like this to get your thinking back on track and to have a plan in place when a disaster strikes.

Some of the things that came to mind were –

  • Where are the flashlights? I know where one is, I think, but are the batteries in it good?
  • Where are the batteries? Do we have enough spare batteries?
  • Emergency updates and communication. What is our plan to receive updates on the situation if we can’t just turn on the TV or check or internet?
  • What if our drains become clogged and water starts coming into our house? When was the last time I checked the drains?
  • If the power is out for a while, what are we going to do with all of the food in the fridge/freezer?

Although we made it through the storm without much damage, it did help me to get my mind back on track and think about what needs to be done to better prepare my family in the future. You never know what mother nature is going to throw at us, but by staying alert, being prepared, and staying calm, you’ll be much better off.

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