Its cold. I hate the cold, and if you don’t, you are wrong. So what better thing to do than to stay inside with a cup of tea and plan out the year as best as possible. We can all be more organized, I think we all intend to, right? This is the only time of year that we have time to plan. It’s cold. Once garden season hits, then harvest, then canning, dehydrating, processing…you get the point. This is the time of year that all the homestead blogs and farms are in full force on Social Media. We are! Everywhere right? As we should be all year but as the Winter warms to Spring you read less of us and see more of us “doing”. So this is it guys, our only hope of keeping it together better than the year before. We can all continue to learn and do better , so let’s go! (end pep talk, begin the plan…)
I gave up. Really.
Last year I spent around $20 on a fancy little planner to “stay organized”. I kept up for about 3 months but within the first few weeks I realized that the monthly planner just wasn’t working for our homestead. After many scribbles and scratches, then going back and not being able to read my tiny notes or where I put the incubation or kidding schedules, I kinda just gave up. No, I gave up. Really. Mr Bad Baxter would say, “make sure you are keeping all this for our records”, or ” le’ts keep better track this year”(KEY WORD: LET’S – meaning LET US, really meaning ME, ME, I better! not HE) So at the end of the year I had one big ugly disorganized box of receipts and papers and notebooks). Boo. Not cool.
I would rather be playing outside
Well like all resolutions, starting off strong and positive, I vow that this is the year that I get my sh*t together. (Don’t forget, I already warned that I cuss a lot – get over it, K, thanks) SO! I knew a traditional planner would not work, I had originally decided to make my own and I purchased a cheap binder to start. I already had a few forms for our poultry processing and meat orders, online egg sales, etc. But I quickly fell behind due to beautiful weather and the fact that I would rather be playing outside – AKA building fences and pens for livestock on the new homestead.
Then I run across these wonderful Homestead Printouts for the year from Reformation Acres. I was skeptical but after finding a coupon and realizing that it was under $10 to get over 100 pages of pure, fantastic, homestead and garden minded planning, I thought why not try – it was less than I spent on the dumb planner last year. Well let me just say, they thought of just about everything. There are plenty of free printouts on their website if you just want to try a few but paying for the 100+ printables is well worth it. Monthly “to do” lists, egg count, dairy tracking, expense reports, bees, goats, cows, you name it. I will not need every single page but how cool is that? Best part, you can save paper by only printing what applies to your farm. This is going to make daily documentation much more simple. Hopefully if I use this a year or two, I can modify a few for our uses and be done with it.
The best part is they include a seed planting chart that you can modify with your frost dates and it updates to tell you when to plant it all. This brings me to my next part of getting it together. Garden planning. My only happiness of winter is having the spare time to plan the better part of the year. In the past, I have used the Mother Earth News Garden Planner. I highly recommend it. You can try it for a week for free and honestly, that’s plenty of time to create a good template if you know what you want to plant and where you want to plant it. It has an annual fee if you want to continue. This year I am going to try Zucinni. It is a free garden planner. I can already tell it’s a bit wonky but I don’t have to pay to use it and do not have limited time to get the garden planned. This year, being on a new homestead and starting from scratch – naked. We will actually have 3-4 separate garden areas so it will give me the time I need to modify them all. This site will also send you email reminders for when to plant. This, you would have had to pay for through Mother Earth. Be honest, have you always remembered where you planted everything, once you got started? Not me, nope. I get in there and get crazy, and creative and change my mind. I need these maps to keep me on track and to edit as I go. So, we shall see. I hope to have a good comparison of these two at the end of the year.
Between the planning pages and the garden planning apps I feel much more prepared this year, to take on the chaos of a new, larger property. We have an amazing camaraderie in the homestead world and these busy families are sharing their secrets with us for FREE or a small price, so why not support them back, or the pages that cater to the farm and garden world? I guarantee they know what we need more than a generic purchased planner from Wally World, most likely made in China. Here is another spreadsheet set from Longbourn Farm, for animal records, all for FREE. So be sure to check them out as well.
Wish me luck! What are your tips and tricks for homestead organization through the seasons?
Here is one from me: Decide on the pages you will use most on a weekly/monthly basis. Slide them in a plastic sheet protector or laminate them and use a dry erase marker. This save money, trees and you can easily transfer needed info weekly/monthly to the homestead analysis and yearly records pages.
Now take the next few weeks to get organized so you can focus on the seasons and more easily keep track. Cheers to a great 2017! Happy Homesteading All! Blaze