Saturday, January 11, 2014

My Homesteading Binder

For anyone who knows me well, they know that I am an organizer . . . I really like to-do lists, schedules, planning, organizing, and systems! (And as a little side note, I think that is even one reason why I am drawn to certain types of antique furniture such as writing desks and hoosier cabinets as they have so many little drawers and cubby holes! Perfect for organizing. :)

As much as I appreciate lists and schedules, though, I am not a 'hard-liner' in that they have to be strictly followed. For me, they are simply guides . . . they help me to stay focused, they inspire me, and they can help prevent wasting time, as instead of wondering 'what to do next?', I have a plan.

Random scraps of paper are often what I have been writing lists down on . . . reminders, ideas, tasks to be done, etc.  . . . Leah sometimes teases me with how I often I make lists! :) Yet there was one area that I had never really organized, and that was our 'homesteading' ventures. Our little farm has kept growing, yet other than our goat and rabbit health/breeding/kidding records (which Leah has done a great job with!), we didn't have any kind of plan or record system set up.

I couldn't resist putting in a spring photo :) . . . it's only January, but I'm already looking forward to things being green again!

Quite some time ago, when visiting two blogs that I enjoy reading, I found that both had posts about their homesteading binders. What a great idea! Why hadn't I thought of that before?!

Last year made me especially realize how helpful something like this could be. With being out of commission for about two months with the tick-borne illness (and during our busiest season!), once I got back to 'regular' life again, it felt like I was always a step behind and trying to catch up and I also had difficulty getting back into rhythm again. (Though my family did an incredible job helping to take care of the tasks I normally would do during this time - they were amazing! - but it really changes things when one person is missing!)

 There were many things that I had wanted to do last year (especially in the fall) that didn't get done . . . like putting cold frames over the lettuce/spinach/etc. that I had planted (some of which is in the above photo), but then unexpected cold weather found me unprepared and my fall crops frozen. Or hauling compost to the garden . . . again, time got away from me and our piles were frozen before I was able to haul even one load.

Granted, life is busy, and I can have a tendency to over-plan :), so if things happen to not get done, I don't stress about it! (or at least I try not to. :) Yet I realized how advantageous a plan and system could be, and how it might help to prevent certain things from slipping through the cracks.

So I determined to make a Homesteading Binder and had the goal
of having it finished at the start of 2014.

And . . . I met that goal! It was fun to make and while much of it won't be able to be used until spring, it has already proven helpful and inspiring. Here is a glimpse into what it is like . . .


The first section is miscellaneous items which includes:

I had never planned out the more routine monthly tasks like this before, but already it has been helpful! I tried to think month by month which tasks needed to be done, though I only got as far as June and will plan in more detail when we get closer. Hopefully this will help me to not get behind in certain things!

This will be a running list of tasks that need to be done outdoors

Since our rabbit breeding records are in a different binder, this is the only chart 
needed for rabbits so I put it under the miscellaneous section.

The other page in this section is:

-- 2014 Honey Harvest

The next section in the binder, and by far the largest!, is for the garden: 

The cover page 
(all of the cover page images that I used are ones I found online)

Just for clarification on this chart, the "seeds planted" column is for writing 
in the quantity of seeds planted (i.e. two oz., a pound, etc.)

As I put the binder together, I went through Scripture to find applicable verses in order to add them to some of the pages. This really added a lot to the binder! As not only do I desire it to be helpful with the physical tasks and records, but also to encourage my heart and to remind me of why I am doing what I am doing and Who it is I am serving. Reminders that I often need!

In the garden records section is also all of the information that I have compiled regarding gardening such as this page on companion planting.

Other pages in this section include 2014's:

-- Vegetable Seed Order
-- Pest and Disease Problems and Solutions
-- Fruit Harvest
-- Freezing Produce Record
-- Seed Saving Record

Since most of our goat records are in another binder, all that is
in mine are the milking and butchering records . . .

The cover page . . . even though I have read the Bible through many times, this verse was one I had never really 'noticed' until I went looking for farm/garden related verses!

Typically milk records are by weight, but since I think in 
cups/quarts/gallons, I put that on the chart, too. :)

The last section in the binder is for the chickens which at this point, includes the egg laying production and egg sales records as well as butchering records.

Filling in egg production for January (and the number in parenthesis is for how many of the eggs were green/blue . . . we have two Araucanas which lay these colors of eggs so this way I can track their specific egg production.) 

So there is a glimpse into my homesteading binder! And I am sure more sections will be added as time goes on . . . I've already thought of a couple of things to add! Now I'm hoping that I'll actually consistently use it, and that it will truly prove to be a help. :)

And now with this binder finished, I'm inspired to revamp my homemaking binder!


  1. Sarah,

    Your homesteading binder is beautiful! I love how you have added scriptures to each section. You have inspired me to try and organize the ideas I have for gardening, chickens and the like, so I can be better prepared come spring! : )


  2. That's awesome, Sarah! We keep records on our cows, but I just didn't think of doing this for some of the other stuff. Especially the seed planting and garden stuff. I have the planting guide from Baker Creek that I refer to for starts and planting, but always look too late to remember when to start something inside, especially if I forget to write it down on my daily planner.
    I think I have something to work on tomorrow afternoon. :-) You've given me lots of ideas!

  3. I think that is such a good idea Sarah (glad you have got the tick repellent listed! I have kept a garden journal for some years now and it is so interesting to look back and compare sizes of plants, and yields of vegetables.

  4. Lovely binder, Sarah! I've been wanting to do something of this sort for some time, or at least a garden journal . . . so this post inspires me! Thanks for sharing!

  5. What a beautiful record keeping system. You've inspired me!


  6. Oh, this makes my little heart so happy!:-) I get so excited about organizing things as well, Sarah. Something about conquering ideas, papers, supplies, and other "clutter" into a streamlined system of sorts makes me feel so peaceful. Yours is a lovely one, and will surely make the homestead run like a well-oiled machine.:-)--at least, those parts that you can control.

    Now, here's a question--do you have any suggestions for a system to organize tons of DVD's, videos, and CD's? Right now they are stacked in the built-in cabinets in our living room, but it is FAR from ideal. I'm wanting something that looks neat, and makes it easy to find the exact one that I'm look for!

    ~ Betsy

  7. Oh this is beautiful! i need to update and redo parts of mine!

  8. Thank you, Sarah! I’m glad it was inspiring. :) Have fun organizing all your ideas before spring! Now is a perfect time to do it . . . and it helps these winter days go by just a bit faster!

  9. Thank you, Mrs. Anne! And I am glad that it was helpful to you! I didn’t realize that Baker Creek had a planting guide, but I would imagine that would be quite helpful – especially for you since you are right in their area.

    I hope you had a fun afternoon bringing fruition to your ideas!

  10. Your garden journal sounds wonderful and so helpful, Elizabeth!

    Yes, I definitely want to make sure that I have the tick repellent figured out and made before tick season arrives. :) We won’t see ticks until long after February, but when they do show up again, I’ll be ready!

  11. Thank you, Katie! I’m glad it could be inspiring. :) Have fun making your own garden journal!

  12. Thank you, Mrs. B! And I’m glad it was inspiring to you!

  13. You sound like me, Betsy! There’s just something so satisfying about organizing.

    Thank you! I hope it will help our little homestead run like that. :) At least a little smoother than it has been!

    I am sorry I don’t have any organization ideas for DVDs, videos and CDs! We don’t have a lot of these so simply have them on a few shelves. Hopefully you’ll find the perfect method of organization for yours!

  14. Welcome to my blog, GracefulMomto11! And thank you! Have fun updating and redoing your homesteading binder. :)

  15. Hi Sarah,
    The planting guide I got from Baker Creek is called Clyde's Garden Planner. It's a very handy little guide. You find your frost dates for your area from the instruction sheet, and the guide will tell you when to start seeds and plant outside for any area of the country. With a little common sense thrown in, it works pretty well. :-)
    Here is a link to it:
    If you scroll half way down the page you'll see a chart with circles all over it ~ click on that and you can see a picture of it. It comes in handy for me because it tells the depths of planting and spacing and all that, which I always forget.:-)

  16. Thank you for sharing about the planner, Mrs. Anne! I'll have to take a look at it. :) It sounds like it would be helpful!

  17. That is such a good idea! I am a list person also, I won't say I am an ORGANIZED person, but I strive to be. I will have to put something like this together myself.

    wow, it has been a long time since I have read any blogs. I have missed you! I have sat down to write a letter sometimes, but if I don't write it all in one sitting it never gets finished!

  18. It was so good to hear from you again, Becky! Thank you for your comment! Now we have another thing in common :) . . . we both like lists! And I can relate to what you said about how you won't say that you are "an ORGANIZED person, but I strive to be." :)

    I have missed you, too! And how sweet about wanting to write me a letter! I always love hearing from you. I have been meaning to write you as well for quite some time . . . your last letter was so nice to receive and I hope to reply to it soon!

  19. I love your binder! What a great idea!

  20. Thank you, Lauren Ann!


Thanks so much for your comment! Each one is read and enjoyed. :)