Do you consider yourself an organized person?
If so, great! Then you’ll probably be interested in this idea.
If not, then you might want to think about becoming a little more organized. The reason being that the more organized you are (usually) the smoother things run around your home and homestead.
So what is one way I keep our homestead organized? With a homestead journal. This helps me to keep records, know where I stand from year to year, keep my ideas and plans organized, and also write down things I know I’ll need to remember for years to come.
But if you aren’t totally sure how to make a homestead journal work for you, don’t worry. Instead, read on as I walk you through each step of the process.
How to use a Homestead Journal:
Why Do I Need a Homestead Journal?
If you are asking yourself, “Why do I need a homestead journal?” you are not alone. My husband tried to tell me we needed one of these notebooks our first year of homesteading. I kind of laughed it off and let it slide by for a few more years.
Then one year we hit a few snags. Our chickens weren’t laying like I thought I recalled them laying the year before. I needed to remember what I bought from who the year before, and we also had some birthing issues that I learned some valuable lessons from but I had nowhere to document everything.
So that is when I knew I had messed up by not keeping a notebook that would help me keep all of our homesteading stuff organized.
Now, I offer you this advice. Keep a homestead journal! You never know when you’ll need the information you tuck away inside of it. It takes very little time, and you can make it as vague or detailed as you like.
Not to mention, I’m going to share with you what details to record and how to actually create your very own homestead journal so you have no reason to not give it a try.
What Should I Record in My Homestead Journal?
There is always lots of different things going on around a homestead no matter how big or small your homestead is.
So you need to have one place that you can store all of your information so you can easily access it whenever you may need it.
Here are some ideas of things you should keep in your homestead journal:
1. A Homestead Budget
At the beginning of each year, I try to make a budget for our homestead. This allows me to know how much I plan to spend on what for that year.
Also, it gives me the ability to know if I’m coming out ahead by doing certain things for myself.
For instance, my mom used to question me about canning tomato juice. In her area, she can purchase a can of tomato juice for less than a $1.
So it would make no sense for her to can her own tomato juice unless she just enjoyed the taste of it more.
For me, however, a larger can of tomato juice is close to $3 in my area. Therefore, I definitely come out ahead by paying for the lids and the gardening necessities when canning my own tomato juice.
As you can see, creating a budget gives you an opportunity to really think about what you are doing, where you are investing your money, and make all around smarter financial decisions for your homestead.
Then by storing it in your homestead journal, it allows you to always easily access the information and make sure that you are staying on track throughout the year.
2. Business Plans
Some people homestead just to be self-sufficient. Some people want to go beyond that and make their homestead their livelihood also. We are not there yet, but we push towards that a little more every year.
But in order to properly launch a business, it is always smart to first make a business plan. If you are unfamiliar with how to create a business plan, here is a helpful tutorial that might give you a little direction in the process.
Then you can store that business plan in your homestead notebook, so you can easily access the information at any given time and also check back frequently to make sure that you are moving in the direction you had hoped.
Did you know you can actually get some tax benefits from homesteading, even if you do so part-time? You’ll want to check out this article and always talk to a tax professional to get clarity about your particular situation in your area.
But the simple fact that I might get a tax break each year is enough to motivate me to keep receipts and good records.
Which is where your homestead journal comes into play. If you are going to try to show motive for creating profit from your homestead, then you’ll definitely want to keep up with how much you spend.
Then you’ll store your receipts all in one easy location so when tax time rolls around you can go through your receipts and see how much money you gained against your expenses.
4. Egg Counts
This is a big one for us right now. I’ve actually never had a hard time getting my hens to lay. We moved to a larger homestead about 6 months ago, and my chickens have turned into really expensive pets all of a sudden.
No matter what tricks I try, they simply don’t want to lay. I’m on my last set of tricks before I decide to simply start all over with a new flock.
However, in normal years, it is a good idea to keep track of how many eggs you collect each day. That way you can see what you are doing particularly well to encourage good laying habits on high months, but also see what could be impacting low impact months as well.
So a homestead journal is a great way to keep track of all of this information. It could also help you figure out if you could potentially sell some eggs to produce a little extra income.
5. Birthing Information
If you are raising meat rabbits, goats, chickens, cows, or any other animal you’ll probably want to keep a record of who gave birth to whom.
Also, you’ll want to make a note of who is a good mother and who struggles in that area. You’ll also want to know if you have an animal that is known for delivering twins or triplets.
Or really any other information about birth you feel is important for your homestead. If you sell your animals, then it might be important for you to document genetic traits as well.
Either way, your homestead journal is a great way to keep track of any and all information about births so you can easily access it at any given time.
6. Garden Plans
We experiment with our garden every year. We’ll read something over the winter and want to try it out.
Or we’ll decide to grow something new each year. It is just who we are as gardeners. We like to try out new things to see if it works well for us.
So with this means, is that we are usually changing our gardening set-up each year.
For instance, at our smaller homestead, I could get away with gardening a lot by hand. At our new homestead, the tilling and a lot of the weeding has to be done with a tractor because it is such a large area to cover.
So this means that I have to change the ways our rows are laid out so the tractor can make it over the plants without damaging them.
Which leads me back to my homestead journal. This is a great place to store our garden plans so we can see what we’ve done in years past and also a great place to store our plans until the next gardening season arrives.
7. Germination Rates
If you grow your own plants from seed, then you know what a big deal this one is. Growing plants from seed take a lot of forethought and effort before you ever even get them in the ground. If you are interested in starting your own seeds, here is a helpful resource. We also have a resource for finding seeds cheaply.
Regardless, if you put in the thought and the effort to grow your own plants, then you’ll want to keep a record of what you had a lot of success with vs. what you didn’t. This can keep you from wasting time in the years to come.
But you can also make detailed notes on why you found such great success, or you could make notes if something happened that caused less success.
Again, your homestead journal is a great way to keep track of all of this information.
8. Harvest Amounts
This is a big one for us. I always like to set canning goals for the year because my goal is to avoid the grocery store as much as possible.
Not only is it healthier for our family, but it also saves us a lot of money in the process.
So with all of that in mind, I like to keep a record of how much we harvest and how many jars we can as well so I know what I have to work with for the year.
But it also helps me to get a rough estimate of our goals for the next year too.
9. Important Numbers and Addresses
This section of the homestead journal is what led me to actually creating my very own notebook. When we were first starting out, my husband had found a few different people through social media that we could buy good quality products from.
One lady sold fruit trees that she grafted and grew herself and charged very little for them.
Then there was a man that hatched a variety of different chickens. We used him a lot to add some variety to our flock.
Finally, there was a lady and husband one county over who grew a community garden. You could come to her land and pick as many trash bags full of vegetables as you wanted. This was huge for us because I would pick a ton of food and then bring it home to can it.
But we struggled for a couple of years to track down their information because we’d save it somewhere and then forget where we put it.
Thankfully, we’d always find it, but still, it got rather annoying not being able to locate their information easily.
So finally, I gave in and created a notebook where I could easily store important information such as names, numbers, and addresses. If you have a certain supplier that you know you’ll use again, this would be a great place to store their information.
10. Project Lists
This is another biggie for us. We always have projects going on around our home or homestead. Right now we are remodeling a house we bought 6 months ago, but we are doing it debt free.
So this means I don’t get to do it all at once. I have to determine the importance of each project. Often the home remodel will have to be put on hold because there will be outdoor projects that take priority.
For instance, when spring hits, it’ll be time to revamp an old chicken coop on the property because I’d like to raise a separate flock of birds strictly for meat purposes.
Again, keeping an organized list of projects and prioritizing them is a great way to keep your homestead pushing forward. Storing that list in your homestead notebook is a great way to keep organized.
11. Ideas to Replicate
Have you ever done something around your homestead that worked really well, and you wanted to do it again?
Then the next year rolls around, and it totally slipped your mind what you did because you didn’t write it down or you forgot where you left your note of the idea?
Well, you don’t have to worry about that anymore. If you keep a homestead journal, then you can put your idea inside of it so it is there for safe keeping.
We all make adjustments around our homestead from year to year. Some things just don’t work like we thought they would.
So it is good to have a safe place to write down ideas that didn’t go so well for us too. That way you can make notes on what the results were so you don’t waste time repeating failed ideas more than once.
13. Building Plans
My husband is really awesome when it comes to building things. I like to remember the things that he builds and how he built them in case we want to recreate them down the road.
So a homestead journal is a great place to safely store these plans and ideas of things you’ve already created.
Again, you never know when you may want to put those ideas to good use again in the future.
14. Animal Care Routines
Taking care of your animals is super important. A happy, healthy, and well cared for animal is also one that is usually very productive for you.
So it is important to document your care routine so you can be on top of the scheduled care.
For instance, you can document every time you worm your chickens, you trim your goats’ hooves, or you clean out the barn. That way you’ll know when it is time to do those things again.
Also, this works well with keeping your pets on a schedule of care too. I struggle a lot with trying to keep up with giving my dogs their heartworm preventative and flea meds.
But if I write them down, it is easy to know exactly when I need to give it to them again so I’m more likely to be disciplined about it.
Finally, we all have miscellaneous details about our homesteads. You can create a section that is meant just for miscellaneous stuff and file whatever information is needed in there, that may not fit in other sections.
Or you can create multiple different sections for things only pertaining to your homestead.
For instance, if you are a beekeeper, you could create a whole section just for your bees. You could document threats to your hives, honey production, and bee reproduction as well.
Also, you could create a section that deals with maintenance of equipment. Feel free to design your notebook any way you see fit and include anything that which specifically fit the needs of your homestead.
How Do I Create One?
So now that you know why you need a homestead notebook and what you might include in your notebook, you may be wondering how you go about creating one.
Well, it is really simple. You have 3 options.
First, you can get a basic spiral bound notebook that has multiple sections to it. Just label the sections and start recordings.
Second, you can get a three-ring binder. This way you can put page protectors in place to hold receipts or other important documents. You could include loose-leaf paper to make notes. You can also add dividers with tabs that stick out for easy use.
Finally, you can create a homestead journal all on your computer. You could create an Excel workbook where you keep spreadsheets for your numerical information. You could add a Word file for notes.
Or download our free homestead journal template and print it as you need:
So as you can see, you can personalize your method of keeping a homestead notebook as much as you can personalize the notebook itself.
Hopefully, this notebook will help you have a more productive homestead in the years to come, but I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.