Document Your Homestead’s History by Establishing 'Photo Points'

| 4/19/2016 1:18:00 PM

For most of us, homesteading means changing a landscape to fit our needs while appreciating the natural surroundings. Yet it’s easy to forget what came before, or to take the changes for granted, especially when they’re gradual.

Wouldn’t you like to see what your land looked like 25, 50, or 100 years ago? Are you even sure you know what it looked like five years ago? When we bought our land, we asked the previous owner if he had any photos from the past 30 years, but he didn’t (or didn’t want to share them). There’s an old homestead site in our woods, but we’ve never been able to discover much information about its history.

While the past may be out of reach, you can give yourself a future gift by starting to document your homestead in an organized manner. Starting ten years ago, my wife and I began establishing a series of “photo points” at which we took a set of photos in a 360-degree arc (each photo in a defined orientation), creating a reproducible, panoramic view of the landscape at that location.

Since then, we’ve tried to retake those photos every year, creating a long-term record of our landscape and the natural and human changes to it. We’ve added new ones over time, and now have 26 around our homestead, offering a fascinating window into the natural and human history of this location.

Here’s a brief look at some of the changes we’ve been able to document with this approach; a full consideration of imagery and analysis is far beyond the scope of a simple blog post. None of these show the full panorama of photos from a location, only selected paired photos.

Homestead Establishment

You know all the work you’ve done over the years, but does anyone else? And are you sure you remember what it looked like beforehand? The following paired photos show the development of our garden and orchard, from weedy or tree-choked lots to managed, productive landscapes.

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