Why a Homesteading Journal?
The simple answer is that a journal will save you endless amounts of time and frustration. For example:
Have you ever grown a wonderful variety of veggie but forgotten it's name or where you purchased it? That won't happen again if you keep a journal.
Have you ever wondered exactly how much money you spent on the garden, or the goats, or the chickens, or the homestead in general?
Ever wondered if you're saving money by growing and raising you own?
Ever wondered if there are places where you can cut back on expenses?
Ever tried to remember exactly when your goat stopped giving milk last time she was bred, or which rabbit you bred with which last breeding season?
Keeping a journal will make discovering all that quite easy.
In it, you can keep track of such things as:
* Weather patterns and temperatures
* Names of plant varieties you've grown or want to try to grow
* Notes on how to grow specific varieties of plants
* Dates for when seeds were started
* Dates for when varieties came to harvest
* Notes on how pounds of each plant you harvested
* Dates for when varieties died back due to frost, disease, pests, or other variables
* Sketches or photos to remember garden layouts
* Notes to assist in the rotation of crops
* Notes to help you remember the outcome of garden experiments
* Figures tracking gardening expenses
* Notes about how specific varieties taste, or work best in which recipes
* Records of how much you've preserved, and how quickly you went through your preserved food
* Notes on which herbal remedies seem to work best for your family
* Reminders about what time of year to forage certain foods, and where to best find them
* Notes on how much milk, meat, eggs you're getting from your animals
* The dates when your hens started and stopped laying
* Information on how long milk animals keep producing
* Notes on how long it takes to grow out meat animals
* Breeding and lineage notes
In short, anything at all you might need to remember about your homestead should go into your homesteading journal.
Traditional garden and farm journals are hand written and kept in binders or notebooks.They are certainly useful, but it can take some time to look up the notes you're specifically after. However, if your journal is, say, in a Word document, finding what you need is a breeze! Just use the search feature to bring up the information you want.
For example, this spring, I needed a list of the vegetable varieties I grew last year. All I had to do was open up last year's journal and search "seeds sowed," and I instantly had the list in hand.
Suggestions for Making a Homesteading Journal
Everyone has different preferences, but here are some things that work well for me.
1. Each year, create a separate file for your journal. Its name should simply be the year, or "Homesteading Journal [year]."
2. Keep every year's journal in one folder (named, for example, "Homesteading Journals").
3. In the Word document, separate entries by the date. Use bold lettering to make separate entries easier to find, in case you are just browsing the file, instead of using the search feature. Consider putting keywords, like plant and animal names, in bold, too.
4. Type in everything, even if you're sure you'll remember next year.
5. Include photos of your garden layouts.
6. Scan plant tags and include them in the file, too.
7. Scan in all paperwork related to your animals. This will serve as a backup to any paper files you might need to keep, but also make access to them easier. Be sure to tag all photos with a keyword, to make searching easier.
7. Keep a back up copy of your journals on a separate drive.
In just a few minutes every day, you can easily collect a huge variety of highly useful information in your journal. And by looking back on your notes frequently, you'll become a better homesteader, and your homesteading efforts will be easier and more successful, too.