My Record Books... Tools I Can't Live Without

What is in your tool box that you can't live without?
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Farmfresh
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My Record Books... Tools I Can't Live Without

Unread post by Farmfresh » Tue Apr 09, 2019 10:08 am

We have discussed record keeping elsewhere, but I think we need a special thread for ideas. We all know record keeping is essential, if we want to be efficient on the homestead.

So... How do you accomplish it? Are you good at record keeping? What works best for you?

|em20|
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
"Stop Dreaming About the Good Life and Start Living IT !"
Every little bit ... is a little bit.

patriceinil
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Re: My Record Books... Tools I Can't Live Without

Unread post by patriceinil » Wed Apr 10, 2019 5:46 am

A definite is a garden journal each year! I keep track of what I plant, the variety, the date planted plus the weight of my harvest from each type of fruit or vegetable. I should keep track of the weather in it too but I don’t.

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Farmfresh
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Re: My Record Books... Tools I Can't Live Without

Unread post by Farmfresh » Wed Apr 10, 2019 7:45 am

This year is the beginnings of that then. It would just be a dedicated corner.

Personally I kept charts and journals till I went crazy. These days everything is on the computer.

I have two different - in depth - Excel charts and a sort of journal log that I keep each year. In addition I can save various articles. I will tell you all more, later when I have a chance.
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
"Stop Dreaming About the Good Life and Start Living IT !"
Every little bit ... is a little bit.

Old Fashioned
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Re: My Record Books... Tools I Can't Live Without

Unread post by Old Fashioned » Wed Apr 10, 2019 5:17 pm

I too keep a garden record book, that I've drawn out diagram plans of what to plant where, dates things are planted, how well (or not) they grow, anything needing replanted, harvests, etc...……..yeah, remember a couple years ago when I left it out in the rain and I thought I'd ruined it forever?????? Talk about a panic. I do still write in it, but I also have it on computer files as well...….but I am getting to the point that I don't need it as much anymore cause I've about dwindled the different varieties grown down to a few favorites of each type of veggie that has been fairly consistent......so any notes now are more of an overall assessment rather than particular details.


Kinda the same approach with the chickens...….when I was 'testing' out different breeds I kept more informed records of growth, personality, egg laying, broodiness, meatiness of any butchered, problems, etc.

Then of course canning......once I figured out about how much we eat/need for a year I didn't need to worry so much about it...just get er done. BUT I will still make up a list early in the season of what I need to do come harvest time and things I want to try that I haven't done before. That way I have plenty of time to figure out the details, long before I pull out the canner & jars.

I may do OK about making a final 'Done' list, but I'm really bad about marking off the list what I've used from it...….working inventory of sorts.

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Farmfresh
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Re: My Record Books... Tools I Can't Live Without

Unread post by Farmfresh » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:30 pm

My first detailed Excel file is called My "Grassfed Expense Journal"

I do a different Excel sheet for each year and then each sheep has a personal sheet as a place to record any specific vet issues and notes about their breeding and production.

I have the year sheet of the journal divided into project sections (designated via color coding). For example I have laying chickens, meat chickens, pullet project and turkeys each as a different project section. That way I can keep good track of how many eggs we get annually in one spot and how many meat chickens we put in the freezer each year in another spot. The "pullet project" is what I call raising chickens for sale as started birds. Often I raise extras for sale when I raise my replacements. Keeping track of the costs and profits there lets me know if the whole exercise is worth it.

Typical column headings are: Date, #, Description, Name/ Identifier (since most of my "produce" has a name), purchases / costs, Sales /Value, notes 1, where (sourced) /yr, losses, how (example hawk attack), processed (date), end total, live wt, meat total, fees (butcher costs), per #, notes 2

I start each years page with an inventory of that project. For example last years Egg Layer project started out with:

1 Red Laced Cornish -2017
3 Buff Cornish -2017
2 Dark Cornish -2015
2 Dominiques - 2016
2 Maran - cuckoo 2016
1 Gold Laced Wyandottes 2016
1 Cornish Meat gal - retained for lay flock 2015
Begin Year - 1 Rooster
1 Black Copper Maran rooster - 2017

Note: several of the above had hawk attack listed in their "lost how" columns by the end of 2018.

The dates correspond to the year that chicken was purchased and joined my flock. I also record any other items that I have on hand that are used for that project. For example: 2 Scratch Grain 50# = 8.99 1 Shavings = $5.00 sack

Once the January 1 inventory is recorded any additions are recorded below in the Additions area. So if I buy a new feeder in March to use with my layers, it would be recorded there and then next year would show up in inventory. By at least doing an annual inventory of every project I can go back and see if I keep re-buying feeders or some other item even if I don't record the old one breaking.

Note: While this seems like a huge undertaking, setting up the year sheet and recording annual inventory only takes a few minutes on a snowy Jan day. Additions are recorded in a few strikes of the keyboard as they occur during the year.

Costs are easy enough to record. I keep a running tally of all the feed, bedding and homesteading supplies (like the new incubator a year or so back). If I use the same feed for several projects, for example scratch grain is used by laying hens and sheep, I try to keep track of how much I use where more or less and bill the project accordingly. Sometimes that is a bit wonky, but as long as the amount I buy totals up overall I am good with my system.

Often "profit" is in the form of eggs meat or replacement hens, but I credit the accounts to show the real value of what I use as well. For example if I keep a dozen eggs to use as groceries, I credit them at $3.99 per dozen because that is the current price for similar eggs at the grocery store in our area. If I sell eggs, I credit them at the actual sale price.

Same with the sheep. If I eat the lamb, I credit the account based on weight and value of similar if purchased. I typically use the prices from a local place where you can buy lamb by the whole or half and not grocery store prices where the price is further inflamed. If I sell a lamb, I record the price I sold them for... no matter the end use they go to.

I DO have a separate savings account for any profits, but I don't solely operate out of that money. I figure I would be paying for groceries, so paying for feed to raise the groceries is about the same idea. I don't record cash in vs profit spent for that reason. The savings account is put to use in the fall when I typically sell lambs. Then that money is used first for hay, vet and etc... before new cash is put into the homestead projects.

Using the chart reliably takes practice, but it can make for an eye opening experience. Which is the entire reason that I started keeping records in this way. My husband took REAL numbers and facts to prove that all the chicken feed we bought was actually saving us money. He could see the spending of $8.99 for a sack of scratch grain and $9.99 for the sack of layer pellets that we bought in February 2018, but it took record keeping to show him the 149 eggs worth $49.54 at the store that we gathered and ate that same month. Suddenly the $19.00 worth of feed seems a much better investment.
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
"Stop Dreaming About the Good Life and Start Living IT !"
Every little bit ... is a little bit.

Old Fashioned
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Re: My Record Books... Tools I Can't Live Without

Unread post by Old Fashioned » Thu Apr 11, 2019 10:25 am

I don't have Excel or even Word......but I do have WordPad where I have my stuff. 'Someday' I will have the others....but since I don't figure costs vs benefit$, it's no biggy. I already know I am ahead of the game when comparing the costs of eggs, meat, canned goods at the grocery store...even if I have to buy some of it....like corn or tomatoes by the box from the produce stand when the garden didn't provide to can it at home. Even with the expense of electricity & water, seasonings, lids, etc I am still coming out ahead in the big picture. Sometimes it may not be as much as I'd like cost wise, but I also know where everything came from, what went into it, how they were raised, etc and that alone gives me peace of mind that can't be bought. And I'm sure every one of us here realize that much of how we benefit from out efforts......even when we think we're fighting a losing battle sometimes. |em23|

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Farmfresh
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Re: My Record Books... Tools I Can't Live Without

Unread post by Farmfresh » Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:29 pm

That is certainly true enough. But living with Mr. Skeptic ... I needed PROOF.
Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
"Stop Dreaming About the Good Life and Start Living IT !"
Every little bit ... is a little bit.

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