Keeping Records on the Farm

Downloadable Record Keeping Sheets
Free Printable Record Keeping Sheets

I have a touch of OCD every now and then and record keeping is one of my issues I suppose. It’s important to keep certain records especially when dealing with livestock. Knowing breed, birthdays, registration numbers, breeding records, any veterinary work that was done and so on. I go the extra few miles and like to record the amount of eggs laid each day, the amount of milk collected each day, birds hatched or purchased from who and when, what feed was bought from who for what, what was planted in the garden, how many plants, started indoors or not, season notes, harvest yields, how many jars of beans I canned. The recording goes on and on. I admit not all of it is necessary but I still like to be able to look at years past and see what was done.

I find spring to be the start of the year on the farm rather than January. It is typically when all the new life begins; babies born, chicks hatched, plants sprouting. But for the sake of my need to record I tend to start new sheets in January. This year was the first year with new land and I was quite unorganized. I had record sheets here and there, online and in notebooks, tucked in seed catalogues and on the fridge. It was a mess; almost enough to give me a permanent twitch. I have since “cleaned up” the records. I scraped a few and added a bunch. The super exciting part is that I now have everything in one well labeled binder.

I didn’t go back and organize this years garden records. Most of them would say “Sprouted. Drowned. No Harvest”. Last winter I put together a Vegetable Gardening 101 series. In it I made mention that records should be kept. It’s true. To keep your soil healthy it is good to know what was planted where in the last couple years so that crops, even small garden crops, can be rotated properly. It is also nice to know if you added compost to any garden plot, what type and when. The same goes for field management it’s just a larger plot. Next year I will be ready, I have my sheets printed and in the binder.

Record Keeping Binder

I have already received the first few seeds catalogues for the season and at this point I would usually have started making my lists of what I have and what I need to order so I can start drawing my garden plan for the year. This season we are not going to plant a full garden (or even half as of now). I didn’t take the time last year to properly prepare the garden plot. Between my impatience and the cold, wet weather, the garden was a huge waste last year. So this year we are going to do things right. Condition the soil with manure and work it a few times through out the summer. Just liven it back up. Which is exciting and disappointing all at the same time. I can’t wait for the following summer when I can get back to planting as usual. It’s just a whole growing season away and that’s a long time!

I did go back to last spring and record all the birds that were brought home, price, number, breed etc. Then the cows. Everybody has a sheet so I can keep track of what goes on with who. I put the egg records that I had on the fridge onto a nice sheet in the binder and am all caught up.

Below you can find a link to each of my record sheets and they are Free!
They are all pretty basic, easy to use and not calendar specific so you can start recording during any month with wasting pages! If there is a page that I don’t have but would be useful please let me know!

Animal Records- I use these for the 4 legged animals
Breeding Records – Again 4 legged animals
Poultry Record- Breed, amount, layer, butcher etc.
Egg Production- Number of eggs collected each day
Milk Production- Amount of Milk collected each day
Feed Purchase Records- From, For, Amount, Cost
Standing Egg Orders – Here I can keep track of people that have set up regular egg orders
Butcher Bird Orders- Keeps track of who purchased butcher poultry
Big Project To Do List – For projects like dig a well by the barn and such
Wish List – So I’ve got a list of things to save for besides the Big Projects
Next Year Don’t Forget To…
Field Records – Harvest Yield, Crop, Amendments and so on
Garden Records- What was planted, how much, harvest date
Seed Records- Seeds saved, Seeds to order, Amount
Canning Records- What was harvested, how much and how was it preserved
Season Notes – For things that seem to need to be recorded about the growing season
Notes- I have one of these after almost every category there is always some extra I need to record

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Lucifer- The Last Guinea

Out of the mere 6 guinea hens we started with this spring we are down to one and I’m ready to ring his scrawny little neck! I have heard that raising guineas with chickens makes them easier to train; for things like going into the coop at night and such. I have also read the females can be territorial but the males can be down-right nasty. When ordering most birds you can have them sexed; guineas you only get a straight run option (meaning you get whatever hatched).

I have had chickens loose feathers before, usually due to a rowdy rooster trying to mate with a hen. But this group seemed to have a bigger problem than the usual rooster. After watching the chickens while I was on a “steak out” trying to kill the fox, I found the problem. It was the one remaining guinea.

The one we have left I have named Lucifer because he is the meanest bird in the flock! The roosters are a rowdier bunch than normal but they peck and run for the most part. Lucifer locks on to his target and doesn’t quit until his feet are planted on the back of the bird and he has a mouth full of feathers.

He is so mean that even Thomas Thanksgiving (the last of the Turkeys) has no tail feathers and had to be removed from the group because he was starting to bleed due to the relentless pecking. See more about blood and birds in The Story of One Winged Wilma and the Guinea.

Now that I have found the problem, the situation will be remedied. I am going to set Lucifer free.

From this there are a few possible outcomes:

1. He will get eaten by the dogs or the fox.

2. He will scare the dogs enough that they will forever leave the chickens alone and he will eat the fox.

3. He will survive and wander about the place until he freezes to death or chokes on a mouse. (I don’t think they eat mice but I wouldn’t put it past this one.)

This may sound harsh especially when I try to give each animal the highest quality of life we can provide, but I have limits too and he has reached the end of the line! With a bird this mean around the laying hens will not lay and that is a problem all it’s own. Not to mention how is anyone going to “Shake a Tail Feather” when they don’t have any left?!

We plan to try again next year with the guineas and rework the system a bit. They really are pretty birds. We had the pearl breed, they have little poke-a-dots on each feather and when they are not trying to kill one another are quite fun to watch.

It’s time to enjoy the get outdoors you mean bird!

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An Update on Wilma

As you may recall something got into the chicken coop last week and did quite a number on things. One Winged Wilma is a survivor (so far) of the event. Her wing stump is healing.


It turns out I can handle maggots in open wounds too. I wasn’t too sure about it, but it went ok. I am glad Vern warned me that it could happen though. It did. Not even 24 hours later, there they were wiggling around the open would and exposed bone. Yuck! After a quick google search I came up with a few answers:
1. The maggots are born sterile and will only eat the dead flesh. – This turned out true and false. Yes, they are born sterile. No, they will not stop at the dead flesh. If left on the bird they will eat it alive and if they make it to “fly” stage they will kill it for sure.
2. Screw worm spray, sprayed on the wound will kill the maggots. -True. Mike picked some up on his way home. We gave her a dousing of peroxide and then the worm spray. The new morning they are dead and gone!

She still gets a peroxide cleaning twice daily and it is looking much better. The skin is healing. I’m waiting for the bone to calcify over the open break. She will be in “sick bay” for a couple weeks yet I’m sure. I don’t want to put her back with the flock until she is fully healed.

The guinea that needed the amputation made it a couple days and then died.

As for the rest of the flock our numbers are not looking good. I finally was able to get a head count. We started the year with 6 turkey’s, 6 guinea‘s, 25 hens for laying, 75 to butcher and 5 “fatties” that we can discuss later. We lost about 10 butcher chicks to dying young and a turkey. They dogs have eaten 6 birds so far; I know this because the do so on the front porch. Something has been helping themselves to the other 20 or so birds that have vanished. Yep, they are gone without a trace! Leaving us with 1 turkey, 1 guinea, half our layers and short a lot of butchers. The butcher number will get smaller because some will turn into layers.

If you have enough birds in the coop in the winter they will keep it warm on their own. We (dad and my husband) built the coop with 2 chicken rooms. The whole thing is insulated so we have the option of wintering 25-30 birds in one room or we could use both rooms and winter an extra 30-40 depending on the birds- less if there are turkey’s or bigger birds. This year we will just keep the smaller of the two rooms full. The key is enough birds to keep it warm and few enough so they each have enough space for the long winter inside.

Operation Kill the Fox has commenced. He is no longer cute. He will be a pelt on the wall if I don’t fill him full of holes first!

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The Story of One-Winged Wilma and a Guinea


chickenAbout 6:30 this morning our phone rang, it was my husband.

“Can you come out here the chickens are out. Something got into them last night.”

I put on my bathrobe and slipped on so shoes and hurried out to the coop as he needed to get to work and any chickens left out would be breakfast for the dogs. I got out there and help him herd the flock back to what we thought was safety.

Then he states ” there’s two chickens in there with their heads missing and one dead turkey.”

My heart sank. I hate losing animals, especially like this. It was probably the result of a raccoon, weasel or something of the sort. So there I am in my pink bathrobe hunched over walking into the temporary chicken run to pick up the pieces. I gave everyone a quick look-over and went out. You could tell something traumatic had happened because none of the birds were acting as usual.

We patched up the hole in the fence, Mike went to work and I gave the birds (or what was left) their final blessing.

A couple hours later I went out to do the actual “chicken chores” only to discover a guinea hen looking very odd and the other birds were pecking at her. This could only mean one thing, blood. So back into the pen I went. Squeezing through the fence, hunched over I cornered the mangled bird and took her out. Any bird with blood must be removed from the flock until they heal. If they are not removed the other birds will peck the to death. Another horrible way to lose an animal.

I gave her a brief examination to find her wing bones were snapped in two, hanging there only by a little bit of skin. The skin on one breast was gone. I felt so sick. Not because of the gore but because of what that poor bird went through and will have to go through to heal.

At this point I had no idea what to do about the bird. Maybe remove the portion of the wing that wouldn’t make it anyway but after that, how do I care for this?! I have dealt with a few animal trauma events. I’m far from a vet but I can “mother” an animal with the best of them. Chicken first aid is new to me though.

Thank God our mailman knows everything there is to know about poultry and was kind enough to stop and check out the broken bird. Yes, that’s right our mailman not only delivers the mail in rain, wind, sleet and snow but is capable of fixing birds too!

After Vern gave the bird a look over it was decided I needed to remove the part of the wing and put peroxide on the open wounds everyday until she’s healed. Apparently not only is there the usual bad bacteria and germs to worry about but this time of year they can end up with maggots in the wound! Yuck!! I can handle quite a bit but I’m not sure I want to test the limits either.

With Vern back on his route I gathered what I needed to do the amputation. The bird was placed back in solitary confinement, otherwise known as an extra dog kennel. Now that I had a plan I set her up a little place in the kennel. She will be safe in there. There is not enough room to flap her wings and hurt herself any further, but its tall enough for her to walk around. I gave her a good coating of peroxide and let her rest. This procedure will take two. One to hold and one to cut.

Giving her time to rest. I went back to the house and continued with the day.

Then round three began. Because today wasn’t filled with heartbreaking news already. I was headed to work, just stopped to close the barn door and I heard one of the chickens chirping. It wasn’t a normal chirp, nor a squawk. So of course, to the coop I go to see what’s going on. There is one of our layers, standing in the middle of a crowd getting pecked. After this morning events and by the way she was not trying to get away I knew this wouldn’t be good either.

Back into the pen I go. The flock scatters and Wilma just stood there. Eyes closed, head down. As I walked towards her she began to walk to the opening in the fence. She got to the end and stopped as if to say “I’m ready. Please help.” It was one of the saddest sights I’ve seen in a long time.

I picked up the little bird, her left wing was gone. The bone was exposed just below the shoulder. I fixed up another kennel (thank goodness we have extras), gave a dose of peroxide and put her in to rest and made my way to work.

The whole time at work all I could think about was those poor birds and what they must have went through, and if I missed Wilma did I missed any more? The whole thing just makes me sick and to think just before the storm rolled through last night we were out getting ready for high winds and possible hail. I thought about closing the chicken door and didn’t. All of this could have been prevented if I would have just shut the door.

For now Wilma and the guinea are resting comfortably in their own spaces. Once the make a full recovery they will rejoin the flock and all will be well again… I hope.

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A Mid-Summer Update

Wildflowerfarm.orgSummer is a very busy season around here and sitting down to the computer is just not something I like to make time for. On the rainy days I usually have so much house work backed up that that is what needs to be done. Writing is better done in the winter, when I can cozy up to a hot cup of coffee and stay warm by the fire.

So far this summer we have planted the garden, very late. Between the late planting and cool wet weather everything is very behind. Except the weeds, they are doing very well! I did spread a thick layer of straw between the rows and that has helped quite a lot.

The wire around the corral is up and ready for the cows to come home. No, they are not here yet. Like I said things have been busy here and everybody has day jobs too. The husband and my dad have been putting in long hours working up here though.

We were able to get our first cutting of hay baled yesterday. By “we” I mean, the husband, my dad and the neighbor. Unlike everyone else, I have a night job. I was quite disappointed to miss the haying. Aside from allergies, I really enjoy throwing bales. It’s a very satisfying job and at the end of the day feels like a good accomplishment. There will be plenty of other opportunities though.

The chickens are living in the coop! It’s not totally finished yet either. But they have a place to live anyway and seem to enjoy it. Which is good, because Stinks at 2 more guinea hens. I was not happy with her!

The dandelion wine is still happily fermenting as well as a batch of columbine flower wine too!

I’ve been taking stock of the flowers in each bed so next year I will know what I want to keep and move and what can go. There isn’t much but what there is, is a nice variety.

The basement has dried out for now too!

Our fox is back too! He’s pretty cute, but could be a problem with the chickens. I haven’t decided if I should “take care” of him before or after he eats the chickens. I’d like to do it before, on the other hand, I’d like to think the best of him and think he will leave them alone. There are plenty of mice for him to eat instead. We will see about this.

That’s the quick summery of what’s been going on around here.

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