We have a lot happening on the homestead, and it’s hard to keep track of it all. Most of the time we can remember things day to day, but week to week things get a little hazy. Year to year is almost impossible.
When did the chickens start laying last year? Has production dipped? Is one of them sick?
How many tomatoes did we plant last year? How long did it take for the garlic to cure? How many apples does my tree produce?
If you’re trying to plan for your homestead food supply, keeping track of where you are can help you reach your long term goals.
For the past few years we’ve been using a simple moleskine notebook. We use it like a diary, and free form write entries about our homestead. Journaling about our homestead is satisfying in it’s own way, but it’s not exactly a “record” that we can use to compare year to year. Our homestead journal isn’t the best source for actionable data to make decisions on our homestead.
But why is data so important?
Before we began this homestead journey, I had a fancy corporate job as a “process improvement consultant” at a large hospital. Sounds fancy, doesn’t it? In a nutshell, I was trained in the same methodology they use at the Toyota manufacturing plants to ensure a very low defect rate (six sigma). It was my job to make sure surgeries happened on time, instruments were clean and everything was on hand when an accident arrived at the emergency room.
Have you ever tried to go in and tell a surgeon how to do their job? How much success do you think you’d have?
Surprisingly, I was very good at my job. You know why? I had data to backup everything.
“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.”
So what does this have to do with your homestead?
Whether it’s brain surgery or egg production, the same is true. If you can’t measure it, you cant improve it. Is that fancy brand of feed you’re using really paying off? Is your milk cow really worth the time and investment? Should you be planting more strawberries, or stick to dependable potatoes?
Is there a better way?
Just like everything, there’s now an app that keeps all your homestead records organized and easy to find. Smart Steader! Quinn at Reformation acres has been producing homestead management printables for years, and they’ve been so successful helping homesteaders keep records, they’ve upgraded to an app. For those of you still operating by pen and paper, easy to use homestead management printables are still available.
With one click of your phone or tablet, all your homestead records are in one place.