Homestead Record-Keeping Made Easy

Homestead record-keeping is made simpler with these tips.

Keeping records is important, and homestead records are no different.

Why homestead record-keeping is important

Without keeping records, how will you know how much hay you bought last year and how much you'll need to have in the barn this year before winter arrives? Did you feed your chickens more laying pellets in the winter than during the summer, and if so, you'll need to plan for that added expense.

When were the goats bred? When was the last time the farrier came to trim the horses' hooves? When do you need to update your farm dog's vaccinations? Did you remember to give the barn cats their annual dose of dewormer?

Yes, you need to keep records. But if you're like me, that's a lot easier said than done. There are so many things going on, and most of us will admit that our attention spans in these days of instant technology aren't as good as they used to be.

The first step in my record-keeping system

The backbone of my homestead record-keeping system is writing everything down. Since I can't take my livestock notebooks outdoors with me I type notes on my phone when I'm outside, then write them down in my weekly planner when I get back indoors. The homestead notes are highlighted in yellow in my planner so I can find them easily among the mundane happenings of my life and all those to-do lists.

You can read about record-keeping for GOATS here.
Even though it discusses goat records, you'll find some handy
tips that apply to other species too,
plus free printables.

I prefer a spiral-bound planner with the "week on two pages" system - half of the week is on the left page and the other half is on the right page, so that I can see the entire week when the planner is open.

If you need more space to write, try a full size planner with 8.5" x 11" pages, or a daily planner with a whole page for each day.

I write my barnyard notes on the appropriate pages, then write reminders and follow-ups on future pages. 

For instance, if I give a CDT shot to a goat kid, I write a reminder to give a booster shot three weeks in the future.

I don't have to remember when the horses need to be wormed, and when the farrier is due. If I had to remember these things without my planner, I'd be in trouble. There's just too much stuff for my brain to hold these days.

I also write things in my planner that I might need to refer to later, such as where we bought hay, how much it cost and the farmer's phone number, when I sold a goat kid, and when I gave the horses a new protein tub. Another note reminds me when the dogs need their annual vaccinations.

Transferring the data

In the winter when I have more time (there are no weeds to pull in the garden in the winter!), I transfer the notes from my planner into my livestock notebooks. You might say that the notebooks are the "final resting place" for information.

(Can't you just write things down in your livestock notebooks in the first place? Yes, of course you can. I just never seem to have the time to do so. Do what works for you!)

Livestock notebook

I have a notebook for my horses, just like the one I have for my goats. It holds their Coggins test results for equine infectious anemia and their registration papers. I can grab this binder easily to take with me to the vet, on a trail ride or to a show, etc.

Homestead record-keeping made easy with these tips.

I use the same health record form that I use for the goats to keep track of the horses' shots, worming, dental work, and any injuries or problems. 

I don't put farrier visits on this medical form, they would fill up the page very quickly. You could have a separate page for farrier visits only if you wish, but I just keep track of them in my planner.

You can download these free printables for your own use; you'll find the link farther down this post.

How to keep records on your homestead.

Also in each horse's section I have photos of the horse from each side, the front and the back. If the horse has an identifying mark such as a brand or a scar, I take a photo of that. I also have a picture of both the horse and me (both of us in the photo) to help establish ownership should it be needed.

This is also where I keep my breed association membership card and the information on our roadside assistance policy. 

Homestead record-keeping made easy with these tips.

In the back of the horse notebook are sections for the cats and dogs, where I keep receipts for veterinary visits, identification photos, the papers showing that they've been spayed or neutered and proof of rabies shots. The health record form works well for the dogs and cats too.

If you raise chickens or rabbits or other livestock, their medical forms could go in the same notebook too, or in a binder of their own if you have a larger herd or flock. 

You can also keep receipts, feed ingredient labels, feed costs and more in the binder.

Crunching the Numbers

Now you can add up all those numbers: what you've spent on feed for your different species of livestock, how much you spent on hay, and how long those bales lasted. 

If x-number of hay bales lasted three horses four months, you can approximate how many bales you'll need in the future per horse. If you add a horse or sell a horse, you can order hay accordingly.

Make a note of the phone number of the farm where you purchased that hay, so you can order more next year. Or, if the quality was disappointing, you'll want to remember where not to buy hay!

Add up the cost of goat feed, minerals, hay and any other expenses for your goat herd. This is how much your goats cost you this year; you can divide this number by the number of goats you have to know your expenses per goat.

Of course, that's an average cost because kids, dry does, milking does and bucks require differing amounts of feed, but it's a good approximation. Knowing how much your animals cost is important for your homestead budget and your goals.

You can also figure out how much it cost to raise the pigs that you raised for the freezer, or the meat chickens you raised this year.

So, just how to do you figure this all out? How do you keep track of those numbers over the entire year? I've discovered a set of worksheets from The Farm Wife that will help you do just that!

Use this Income and Expense Worksheet for Small Farms to keep track of the various aspects of your homestead. The preset categories cover poultry and egg sales, small livestock, equipment, garden expenses and so much more, but you also have the capability to add custom categories and delete those you may not want to use so that the worksheet is completely customized for your needs.

You'll be able to track your income and expenses by month and by category, and know exactly which areas of your homestead are making money ... or not.

There is also a chart with an overview of how you're doing, showing income and expenses in an easy-to-digest format.

You can find more information on the Income and Expense Worksheet for Small Farms here. Julie is even offering a special 25% discount to my readers when you use the code "KathisGift".

Other homestead projects

You can use this record keeping method to keep track of any projects on your homestead. Write down how much you spent on the materials to make that new chicken coop or how much soil you bought to fill the new raised bed in the garden.

Make note of when you planted your garden seeds. Did you plant too early or too late? How was the yield? Did you try a new fertilizer this summer? What new plants did you add to your herb garden, and where did you buy them?

Keep an inventory

On the first day of each year, I follow Thomas Jefferson's practice of writing down an inventory of my homestead: how many animals we have, how many fruit trees, bales of hay in the barn, etc.

Free printables

If you'd like FREE copies of the printables mentioned in this post, just click the link below. This set of forms was developed for goats but is suitable for other species as well.

Please note that these are free for you to print for your own personal use; please do not sell them or include them in a salable product. If you'd like to share them with friends, please send them here to this post so they can download them from the original source. Thank you!

Click here to get your FREE printables.

Who has time to keep records of their livestock and homestead? Try these tips to make it easier.

Why homestead records are important, and what information you need to save. Record keeping is the backbone of your homestead. From Oak Hill Homestead

Related posts:
Keeping Goat Records on your Homestead
Organize Your Family's Documents/Grab and Go Binder

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
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April said...

I raise rabbits and keep a lot of records about them: pedigrees, growth weights, show results with judging comments, breeding records, and health.

When we had chickens, I only kept up with how many eggs were laid.

For the garden, I keep up a harvest counter which has pounds of veggies and meat we harvest. This year, since we want to try to grow as much produce as possible, I want to do a better job keeping up with which varieties of seeds do best, when & how much was planted, and so on.

Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead said...

April, you are a very good record keeper! I like your plan to keep track of which vegetable varieties produce best this year, and your total yield. I hope you have a great year.

Frank and Fern said...

I do keep records, Kathi, but not as detailed as yours. I have a 3 ring binder with dividers for dogs, cats and chickens. The goats are in there too, but each doe or buck has their own section. I have notebook paper in each section and list all pertinent information there chronologically.

Thank you for showing us your record keeping system. It's always good to learn from others perspectives.


Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead said...

Fern, that sounds simple and very efficient. I enjoy seeing and hearing how other people do things.

Unknown said...

I use a daily planner a big one 8 1/2 x 11. It has 2 pages per month then a page per day. I use this for all note keeping. Purchases , livestock, weather , tasks to do,. Some info gets transferred to specific animal notebooks. If I know I will need a certain page in the future I flag it with a post it note sticking out of the edge.

Kathi at Oak Hil Homestead said...

Michelle, your system is similar to mine but BIGGER! Then again, you have a lot more animals than I do so you need that additional space. Sounds like it's working for you. (Now, what brand planner do you have?)

Mandi said...

Coming over from the Homestead Blog Hop.

This is something I could definitely do better at. I love the idea of a magnetic board for the barn walls!


Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead said...

Mandi, the dry erase board was quite handy! I bought it at the back-to-school sales one year, probably was less than $5.

Unknown said...

The one I like best is Cambridge and I get it at WM usually around $12 I think. I have used this brand/style many years. I have it organized where certain types of info go in certain places. This year I am adding a livestock head count at the start if each month. In case they do drought payments was a lot of work to figure out before.

Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead said...

It's so much easier to do things as we go, isn't it? Just wish I were better at doing it.

Unknown said...

Love the idea of not only photographing the horse, but you in the photo too. Great idea..... and you will always have lots of felfies to share! LOL Thanks for sharing at the (mis)Adventures Mondays Blog hop!

Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead said...

I can't take credit for the idea of taking pictures of the animal AND you to prove ownership, but I sure think it's a good one!

Unknown said...

You keep great records, thanks for sharing your ideas at Good Morning Mondays. I keep a daily diary which records what we all do for the day, but I am thinking that we should get a bit more organised regarding recording other things. Love your posts they are such a blessing.

Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead said...

Thank you, Terri.