How to Create a Farm-Property Scrapbook

Create an heirloom-quality record of your farm property to pass down from generation to generation.

by Dani Yokhna
Scrapbook supplies
Photo by Stephanie Staton
Select photo for your scrapbook with an eye for consistency and unity.

Take a cue from the enormously popular scrapbooking hobby, and create your own keepsake album that describes your farm and land. Using readily available materials and basic techniques, you can have fun documenting your property while including important information about forests, wetlands and wildlife.

Preserving Your Property
Scrapbooking is all about capturing and preserving memories while channeling your creativity. It’s also an ideal way to leave a legacy for your family and to record the one your ancestors left for you. Including your farm’s life and land in your memory-keeping will help you keep track of the changes in you, your family and your farm. Melissa Sherman, a marketing coordinator with a background in graphic design who creates ready-to-go scrapbook pages for other busy moms, sees the hobby as ideal for catching moments that might otherwise get away.

“Changes in nature happen all the time, sometimes slowly and sometimes overnight,” she says. “It’s nice to look back at your pages and embrace the changes and cherish how the Earth and our families grow in our short lifetimes.”

Having a record of your property’s history can be of value for renovation and preservation as well as for documenting the building process. Jenny Cheifetz, aka The Sugar Mommy—purveyor of custom candy and cookies as well as an avid scrapbooker—documented the construction of her home through move-in day and continues to capture special moments there. She believes it’s important because, “A home is a special place, and documenting where you live makes it special for your family. You may not always live there so it gives you a concrete memory.”

Cheifetz notes that having a record of who lived on the property and what features were there (i.e., stone walls, outbuildings, important or rare trees and wildlife) at a particular time in history could be helpful if there is ever a land dispute.

Erika Bullard, a blogger at Scrapbook Obsession and a MemoryWorks consultant, stresses that original documents such as legal and historical records should not be included in your album.

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“Instead, make good-quality copies onto white, archival cardstock, and include those in your scrapbook,” she advises. “Keep the original documents in a home fire safe, security deposit box or other place [where] they will be protected from the elements, flooding and fire.”

Mapping Your Property Journal

Scrapbook page
Photo by Stephanie Staton
For a quick page accent, add a favorite quote, printed or handwritten, to your page.

Most scrapbook pages or layouts start with photographs; if you’ve been snapping shots of your farm life, you probably already have quite a few photos to work with. Take Sherman’s advice to begin organizing them.

“Having tons of photos that you would like to archive and scrapbook can be overwhelming,” she admits. “If you feel inspired by a certain photo, start there. Forcing yourself to design in a certain order can backfire and lead you to quit before you get started.”

Think of photographing and mapping your property as a treasure hunt for the unexpected and hidden things that make your land and farm special. It’s not necessary, but a map, such as a copy of a survey, is a good place to start. From there, you can add information about unique features and objects as you find them.

As you take pictures of the people and places you love, keep two elements in mind to ensure better photographs:

  1. Natural light, especially in the early morning or late afternoon, is usually better. (The “golden hour” is two hours after sunrise and two hours before sunset.)
  2. Photographing people, especially children, and animals usually means taking lots of pictures. It’s much easier to find a great shot out of 30 or 40 than to make do with only two mediocre photographs. Sherman advises, “Make sure you capture the details up-close. Fill your viewfinder, with the subject as close as possible.”

Depending on the focus of your album, you may want to include other documents, as well. You could include easements and right-of-way agreements, mineral and water rights, conservation easements, and prior sales documents, especially if a previous owner was noteworthy. If you’re lucky enough to have records from previous generations, consider including them as well. Your own operating and domestic records, such as crop yields or livestock records, add character to your album.

Sort your pictures in the order that makes sense to you. For Cheifetz, organizing her photos chronologically made the most sense, starting with the empty wooded lot and ending with the finished house. You might find another order that works, such as a theme album with one section devoted to your prized chickens and another to your child’s garden. If your property has diverse ecosystems, a geographic organization may be better, with pages for the stream and the woodlot. Using page protectors allows you to move the pages around after they’re complete if you find another order that works better for your journal.

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