I have a farm journal that sits next to my chair in our living room, and I try to write a little something in it every night. It’s full of important things about our farm life and is affectionately referred to as The Almighty Pink Book. Reading through it will unlock the secrets of years past: How much rain we got. What the temp was. What seed we used. What we spent at the feed store. When we started the wood stove for the year. Who we got wood from. How much a bale of hay cost. When the pheasants started laying eggs.
But why should you write all this down?
It’s completely practical:
I can’t tell you how many times I have said, “we’re planting so late this year!” and then look in the book and find out, no, it’s actually a week earlier than the year before.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s hard to remember what happens from year to year. You might think that this year it was hotter/colder/wetter/drier than last year, but your journal might say differently. To be honest, I don’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, so I know there is no way I’m going to remember when I started the wood stove last year or how long we ran it or how much extra wood we ended up needing.
I never seemed to be able to remember what time of year the raspberries would be ready for picking. It used to take me by surprise, and then I was unprepared to deal with them. With my farm journal, I can just peek back at my entries from last year and know when that giant explosion of berries is coming.
It forces you to sit down and reflect on the day:
Let’s face it – life on the homestead is busy. There is always something to do. It’s easy to feel guilty for taking a break because you can think of a ton of things you should be doing. Well, let’s make sitting down for ten minutes to reflect on your day and what’s going on as one those things you should be doing. Take a breather. Have a cup of coffee or a glass of water and jot down what’s happening today on the farm. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You don’t even have to use complete sentences. Just take some time to reflect. You will be so thankful later!
It’s fun to go back and read:
Lots of times I will page through the journal and spout off to whoever is within earshot, “Hey, did you know time last year, we were replanting the corn field because of all the rain?” It’s almost like the handwritten equivalent of the On This Day app for Facebook. It’s fun to see things we’ve tried that worked…and laugh about things we tried that didn’t.
And who knows? Some day in the future—when handwritten journals are really rare—someone else might want to read what we were doing in our earliest days at Clucky Dickens Farm in the handwriting of the gal who lived here.
Isn’t it just the same thing as a blog?:
Some people ask why I keep a journal if I have my lovely website/blog full of information. Can’t you just look back at posts and figure things out? Well. While it is true that A Farmish Kind of Life is intended to share experiences with my readers, the fact that on April 16th of 2014 we got a foot of snow, or that we fired up the wood stove two days before Halloween later that same year probably doesn’t help you with anything you’re doing at your homestead. So to keep you from snoozing through my articles, I tend to keep those items in my journal.
Of course, if you want to be fancy, you can go ahead and write all this stuff on the computer, blog or not, but I don’t. I choose to keep a paper journal because for me, the act of handwriting an entry every day is relaxing. Also, if it’s out on the end table, anyone has access to it and can look things up or read it.
It connects you to the farm:
This might be one of those woo-woo artistic type folk things, but I find I’m more connected to anything that I’m writing about. Taking the time to write out what we’re doing makes me remember that I’m here, and I’m doing this, and life is good. Sometimes that requires taking yourself out of the dailyness and looking at the big picture. This journal documents our life together on this fabulous farm—the struggles and the victories, both big and small. Why in the world would I want to risk forgetting any of that?
I encourage you to start your own farm journal. Every farm needs their own Almighty Pink Book, don’t you think?