Monday, November 24, 2014

Using IFTTT on the Backyard Farm

The phrase Whittled Down Life implies an ever-increasing simplicity, as though somehow by cutting out enough excess, life will become magically uncomplicated. In reality, the more we simplify our lives in some senses (relying less on processed food, driving less, buying less stuff), the more there is to keep track of. When you grow your own food, you've got garden planning and maintenance, food preservation, and all that good stuff. When you drive less, you've got to plan your trips more carefully and pay closer attention to the weather. You get the idea.

Luckily, we live in the digital age, and there are tools out there that can make life easier for even the most disorganized punk domestic. Let's talk about one of those tools:

IFTTT (If This Then That) is an online service that lets you create recipes of conditional triggers for all kinds of things. Basically, it allows you to link different services together in an automated way. Everything from text messaging to Craigslist is included in their list of services you can use to make recipes.

With the right devices, you can use IFTTT to automate everything from remembering to open the cold frames to regulating the temperature of your tomato starts. Though IFTTT can't do everything, it is a valuable addition to the  digital homesteader's tool belt. As more and more tools become a part of the internet of things, the possibilities will only expand.

Here are some recipes we've found useful around our garden farm and home:

Text message a warning when it's getting too warm out for the coldframes to be closed.

IFTTT Recipe: Open the cold frames! connects weather to sms

All of your plants can get fried in a matter of minutes if a cold frame is left closed on a warm day. Cold frames act like solar ovens to keep plants above freezing in cold months. In those times of the year where temperatures fluctuate, like fall and spring, it can be hard to keep a constant eye on the outside temperature. This IFTTT will text you a warning when the tempurature climbs above 50 degrees. You can also set up your own to trigger a notification on your smart phone.

Email a warning when it looks like it's going to frost tomorrow

IFTTT Recipe: Frost Alert connects weather to email

If you're like me, and have trouble keeping up with the news, you might miss one of those ever so important frost warnings. This IFTTT will email you a warning the day before the predicted frost. This should give you enough time to muster the sheets and tarps, or do some last ditch harvesting before it's too late.

Need free woodchips? Looking for pullets for sale? Notify me about Craigslist posts!

IFTTT Recipe: Free Wood Chips! connects craigslist to sms

The possibilities are endless with the Craigslist IF. You can set up a search for any posts in the free section mentioning "wood chips", or find yourself a cheap piece of furniture, or equipment for around the home stead. It might take a month before you find the right deal, but IFTTT is doing all the work for you, so it pays to play the long game if you've got time on your side. I published the above IFTTT as example, but you'll have to make your own for it to be useful. That is, unless you live in Western Massachusetts, in which case hands-off my free wood chips!

These recipes just scratch the surface.  Has IFTTT made a whittled down life more possible for you? Share your thoughts, and show us your recipes.

1 comment:

Jay Dedman said...

I use IFTTT for Craigslist all the time. Found piles of beautiful pine flooring for cheap. We'd get the alert, send an email, and go pick up the same day.

Never thought to do it for weather. Smart.

(i hate these captchas! took me five times to finally read the text)