by Tammy Taylor~
Although we now enjoy smart phone capabilities, RancherMan & I resisted getting one for quite a long time. We just couldn’t justify the cost of it, including the increased cost for data usage. We kept saying to ourselves “I only need a phone for calls, not for text or surfing the net!” Everyone told us once we did get a smart phone we’d wonder how we ever got along without it. But still we resisted. For years! Then it happened, my brother was upgrading and he gave us his old iPhone 3GS. Well, if the phone is FREE, maybe we should check it out & see what all the buzz is about.
Yeah, they were right – several years down the road and we’re certainly wondering how we ever got by without it! But it’s not just for fun or convenience reasons, there are several ways having a smart phone has been really helpful on the homestead.
My dad always said “The best camera to use isn’t the most expensive or highest recommended, it’s the one you have IN YOUR HAND right now!” In other words, if you have a camera with you – use it! Even that old 3GS iPhone was used heavily even though the camera was only ‘meh‘. It was the most valuable camera I could have because heck, I’ve got it in my pocket! For a blog-writer, this has been game changing. As we’ve updated phones over the years, the camera quality is the primary thing considered. All the photos on my blog have been taken with my various iPhones over the years!
But how can a camera help the homesteader? Well I’ve been able to take photos of trees and plants I’ve stumbled across and submit them to my extension agent for identification. I’ve also taken photos of udder changes on some of our cattle to submit to our vet for medical assistance with our cows. That camera has come in handy in so many homesteading circumstances over the years! The camera feature is hands-down my most useful feature on my phone.
We have iPhones so I’m 100% totally in love with SIRI! I use that feature to pull internet sites, to to answer a question or pull one of my favorite recipes from my blog. (“Hey Siri, Taylor-Made Homestead Bread Recipe” is so helpful for pulling recipes!)
But one of my most-used SIRI functions is the timer. And now with the hands-free SIRI it’s even better. I don’t have to touch the buttons with batter-covered fingers! So when I put my homemade bread in the oven to bake I simply tell SIRI to set the timer for 25 minutes. When the timer goes off I know it’s time to butter tops for the last 5 minutes of baking.
Yes I know the oven has a timer, but I’ve gotten into trouble before when RancherMan’s asked me to help him with something & I’m not standing by the oven when that timer goes off. But since my phone is always with me even if I step out to check the garden or to the workshop to help RancherMan with a quick task – I’m made aware of action needed when my timer goes off!
Don’t you hate to try to remember next time you go near the home improvement store you need to stop in to pick up something? Me too! Especially since we live out in the boondocks, everything is a trek to a nearby town for us. As soon as we arrive back home I thump my forehead and say something like “DANG! we needed to pick up more lag bolts at Home Depot but we forgot!”
But I can ask for a reminder next time I’m near a particular location. In this example I’d press the button & say “Next time I’m at Home Depot, remind me to pick up lag bolts”. SIRI will confirm which Home Depot location I’m referencing and BOOM! The next time we drive by that Home Depot a reminder will pop up that we need lag bolts.
It works equally well for reminding me of grocery items to pick up or thrift store items I’m searching for. I just tell SIRI to remind me next time I’m at (pick a location) to remind me (pick an item). This has saved many a forgotten item for us!
Weather Radar When The Power’s Out
Unfortunately living out here in a rural area means it’s not really unusual for our power to go out. It’s especially stressful when our power goes out during a storm.
Picture this: The weatherman warns there’s a chance for tornadoes. Then he warns that the storm is tracking toward us. It’s getting closer and closer. Tension mounts and then… The power goes out. YIKES!
But since we have cell service we’re able to track that weather system using the data on our phones when the electricity is off at the house. We’re even able to track that weather system as we’re sitting in our Underground Storm Shelter so we know when it’s safe to come out.
We’ve done cellphone weather tracking through various apps often over the years. Our favorite app to use is for our local weather channel – you’ll want to check out the app for your local area’s weather station.
Data for Text or Facetime
Of course the data itself has been helpful for RancherMan & me . Remember, we’ve shunned cable TV & instead have a rooftop antenna. We’ve used Facetime when he’s up on the roof adjusting our antenna, or in the attic working with the antenna amplifier. I’ll stand next to the TV and show him the signal strength so he can adjust until it’s at its strongest level.
And text service really helps the homesteader too. For instance, if I’m out checking the cows and I see that one is going into labor, I can text him to let him know he needs to keep his chores on the short list for the next few hours.
Smart Phones Are Convenient!
There are other features we use that aren’t necessarily homesteading-themed. Since we’re out here in the boondocks we’ve added “Find My Friends” for several family members that allow them to see our location. So when we go to a family gathering at my baby sis’ house about an hour away she knows when we will arrive even if there’s a wreck on the highway slowing us down.
And when we trek even farther to west Texas to visit my aunt, she can monitor our progress and estimate when we will arrive at her house. That way she’s not stuck at the house unable to run errands or wondering when that delightful pot roast needs to be finished. It’s easy for her to track our progress over the hours until we arrive.
And before taking a trip I like to use the “NOTES” section of my iPhone for a list of things we need to do before leaving home. No more “Did you unplug the coffee pot?” There’s a list of things to do before we walk out such as take out the compost, empty the coffee grounds and lock the feed shed.
Plus the data on my phone allows me to check my email when we’re away from home and I’m awaiting an answer to a question I’d emailed about. And staying connected on Facebook is always fun for me too.
Yep, we’re left wondering how in the world we ever got by without our smart phones! What’s the most helpful feature for you on your smartphone?
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