How to Keep Your Homestead Organized

Reader Contribution by Nicole Wilkey
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Raise your hand if you prefer organized over chaos? I do. There can be lots of details pertaining to your homestead or farm and keeping organized is key when managing animal health, breeding, seasonal chores or anything that needs to be kept track of over the years. Here are a few different ways we keep ourselves organized to keep things running smoothly:

Phone Reminders

 Most of us have smart phones these days, and smart phones have the ability to set calendar reminders, years out at a time, to alert you to tasks on any given day or time. Some of the calendar reminders I use for myself and farm tasks are monthly alerts to treat our barn cats and farm dog for fleas and ticks. On the 20th of every month I get an alert to remind me to treat all of them so we can prevent those dreaded flea infestations or tick bites…which are very prevalent in our area. I also have alerts set to remind me every 6-8 weeks to trim the goats hooves, an alert twice a year to dose the goats with BoSe {selenium/Vitamin E injection} and copper boluses, an alert twice a year to switch out the collar batteries on our dogs invisible fence collar so he doesn’t go roaming the neighborhood, and twice a year alerts to de-worm the pigs. It is easy to set up these types of alerts on ‘repeat’ for whichever time interval you need, the alert pops up right on your phone, or computer, and you stay on top of tasks that do best when done consistently.

The Trusty Binder

 One of my most useful organization tools is the good old binder. I have one binder for the farm I keep in a convenient spot in my kitchen pantry, and it’s easy to grab anytime to make notes and update information for specific animals. For example, our goat herd consists of purebred Nigerian Dwarfs, each goat has a sleeve within the binder that holds their registration papers, notes specific to them that shows me when they last had a medication or supplement, or any procedures they may have had {i.e. we had a goat miscarry a pregnancy few years back and so I noted the details and medications given by the vet as that may be helpful info to have in the future}. More rare, but also helpful, we had to rush a pregnant doe to the ER this season and I was able to bring the binder and rattle off what she was current on and her history to the veterinarians, no wasting time trying to remember what she may have had or may need. I also keep track of their kidding details, such as what days in their gestation they kid, how many kids there were, if there were any issues or if they did not need any assistance. After a couple of kiddings from each goat, patterns emerge like a tendency to kid early or late. Also in the binder I keep all of my bio-security test results for the whole herd. These are annual blood tests done to make sure the goats are healthy and not carrying any disease that could be spread to other animals or possibly humans. Having everything right at your fingertips makes it really easy to pull out necessary info for your veterinarian or to make copies for new owners if you are selling animals.

Corralling Receipts

 If you need to keep receipts for any reason, maybe taxes, the mountain of receipts can be overwhelming or maybe you have receipts spread out all over. Our really high-tech way to manage this is a gallon ziplock bag in each car. When you’re out picking up feed or fencing or whatever you may be purchasing farm-related, that receipt goes immediately into the ziplock bag in the glove box. Every couple of months or so we will move all of the receipts to a main area in our office for tax season, but keeping a bag in the cars means we don’t lose anything somewhere between the feed store, chores and the house…because we all know that happens.

Other Simple Ideas

There are lots of other easy things you can to to keep organized such as this garden planner from Farmer’s Almanac. It allows you to input your garden dimensions and plan out your garden crops, which can be especially helpful if you rotate your crops to reference previous years. I like to print out this ‘map’ and keep it with my seeds so I know where to plant everything when the time comes. And speaking of seeds, this is my favorite way to organize hundreds of seed packets in one spot. A few minutes a week spent organizing really keeps things running smoothly, can keep animals healthier and make your life a whole lot easier when you know where to find the info that you need.

Nicole Wilkey transitioned from a corporate job to small-scale farmer in 2015. Since then she has run California based Flicker Farm to accommodate meat pigs, mini Juliana pigs, pasture based poultry and sells goats milk soap and lotion on Etsy. Connect with Nicole on Instagram and Facebook.

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