This blog will not be adding more posts but will remain open for you to access the information that will remain here.
Showing posts with label Planning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Planning. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Farmstead Checklist for February

by Throwback at Trapper Creek


Moulin Rouge sunflower

My checklist for February may be different than many of my readers due to weather conditions but I hope you can find something of use here for your like season.

Check garlic and other overwintering alliums for growth and mulch as needed for weed control.

Take hardwood cuttings of small fruits such as: grape, kiwi, currant, and gooseberry.

Harvest scionwood of fruit trees such as apple and pear for grafting.

Divide perennials such as rhubarb, hops and horseradish, & raspberries.

Order seeds if you haven't already.

Start seeds of slow growers like celery root, and herbs.

Take a freezer/pantry inventory now that winter is waning and see if you really need so much of whatever is left. Adjust seed order and garden plan accordingly.

Inventory food preservation supplies, stock up on lids etc.

Order chicks.

Check chick equipment and repair or replace as needed.

That is just a few things we've been working on, I've had a two year hiatus in the dairy department so I will be dusting off my milking supplies, ordering fresh minerals for my heifer, and getting prepared for the big event in May.

How does your list differ from mine? Are the differences weather or season related?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Organising Information

Posted by Bel
from Spiral Garden

The most common item on my To Do list is "tidy office".  My office is an alcove off the dining room which houses my husband's desk, the kids' laptops, my business stock, my desktop computer and all of our household paperwork and personal finance 'stuff'.  It's only 3m x 3m and has no door - so it needs to be well-organised all the time!


There seems to be so much information coming into our lives - local newspapers, magazines handed on by friends - as well as my couple of favourite mags bought new, books to be read, homeschooling resources, lists, my precious diary, paperwork for my volunteer roles and my business...  And then there are bits and pieces like recipes, notes from workshops and meetings, samples and catalogues from suppliers, birthday cards to send, bills to pay.  Argh!  It's very easy to be overwhelmed...


So, every now and then I clear off the 2m x 2m dining table, which is just beside the office, and I start to make piles of things which need to go in different places to where they have accumulated.  Of course, I could deal with paperwork and other items the day they arrive, but with six children, homeschooling, the farm, the business and LIFE - I am just not that organised.  But I am a little organised, and I will share below some ideas I've found invaluable for keeping track of the paper trail...

Household Notebook
I got the idea for a Household Notebook from organizedhome.com.  I bought the biggest ring binder I could find - it's the white type with the clear insert cover.  On the spine I used the printable 'household notebook' label from Organized Home, and on the front I inserted a beautiful photo of my garden.  Inside I used a whole box of clear sheet protector sleeves and some plastic dividers I found in our house.  I made labels for the divider tabs - farm, house, me, education, food, family, community, work.  I left a couple of dividers at the back of the folder in case I decide to take on any more roles! All of those pieces of paper I've saved and wanted to keep were sorted and filed into this folder, which sits upon my desk to be grabbed whenever required.  Items in it include maps of the orchard, drawings by children, scraps of poetry, booklets, brochures, handouts, master menu lists the very many other lists...

Garden Journal
I have never kept a Garden Journal, but I wish I did!  I do have maps of trees and perennial plants around the house paddock, but nothing for the vegie gardens.  I searched online for images of Garden Journals, to see what sort of thing I'd like to create, and the options are endless!  From online journals to scrapbooks, meticulous record books and everything in between!  If I had a garden journal, I'd keep a record of which seeds I sow when, and the results.  I'd write notes about frosts and rainfall if I had a system in place.  I'd boast about harvests and preserves in my garden journal.  Do you keep a garden journal?  I'd love to hear about it!
 

Finance Folder
Our finance folder is a bit like the household notebook, but it's all about money.  It has a beautiful title page with an image of blooming flowers and quotes about wealth.  Then there are a couple of pages of important numbers and details, a printed calendar for the current year for easy reference and a page with the months of the year with regular bills written in their month - insurance renewals, rates, vehicle registrations.  There are sleeves for bills to be paid, my balance sheet summary (I work well with pen and paper, rather than spreadsheets or online budgeting programs), a sleeve for that month's receipts or accounts paid for my business, wish lists for birthdays, bank books for the younger kids' accounts and other taxation, budget and finance bits and pieces.  This is a system I have used for over 10 years and I really like it.  As soon as a bill comes in, or a receipt hits my desk, it is filed in the finance folder.

Recipes
I like to cut recipes from magazines, receive hand-written recipes from friends, print recipes from forums and websites...  So I bought 4 ring-binder folders last year and labelled them - sweets & baking, meals, preserves and Thermomix.  In each folder I have more clear plastic sleeves and in the Thermomix folder I organise recipes approximately by recipe type - meals, sweets, preserves, dairy, etc.  The folders look great on a shelf in my kitchen and anyone in the family can find our favourites.  They are also a great inspiration at menu-planning time, because every single recipe is hand-picked by us, so there's no sifting through things we don't like in recipe books!  I used to keep a lot of recipes bookmarked on the computer, but with our power outages and internet interuptions, especially in our summer wet season, I have gone back to paper versions.  After creating these folders, I had a big clean-out of unused recipe books, copying the one or two recipes I used from many, and passing them on to others to enjoy and use!


Filing Cabinet
We bought a 2nd hand filing cabinet for next-to-nothing about 18 years ago.  At first it had just a few suspension files hanging in it, and some junk in the bottom drawer.  As our family grew larger and our lives grew busier, the filing cabinet accumulated more folders.  Each year, when I do our tax, I clear out unwanted pieces of paper from the filing cabinet and shred them for use in the chook nests, or to start the fire.  There's something very satisfying about incinerating old bills!  I don't file items as soon as they come in.  Maybe because of the awkward corner the cabinet is in, or maybe because I'm just a procrastinator!  I have a green file folder on top of the filing cabinet which fills with papers to-be-filed.  Every couple of months or so, I file away these papers when having an office clean up.  It's a method which suits me, and the two-step process in fact reduces some of the items filed, as I might put something in the green folder just-in-case, but by the time filing day comes, I realise I didn't need to keep it.


Next post: organising daily information - diaries, calendars, menus and more!


Sunday, January 2, 2011

The return of the sun

By Aurora, Island Dreaming

Whilst all seasons have their charms and downsides, I think that most people have times of year that they prefer. My perennially pale complexion marks summer as my natural enemy and my feeble circulatory system sees winter as its foe, hence I thrive in spring and autumn. Winter here this year  has been dreary - one day of pristine, crunchy snow followed by weeks of slush, freezing temperatures, greyness and treacherous ice. The rest of the country descended into snowy chaos as we turned into Sweden for a few weeks, though without any of that nation's preparedness. This is one winter I will be particularly glad to see the end of.


I feel the transition from winter is very much a 'countryside' season that can fall flat in the city, with its evergreen shrub beds, annual planting schemes and general lack of wildlife. Nevertheless, now the solstice is past; the first signs of new growth will begin to appear, just as the harshest part of winter descends upon us.The days lengthen by a few minutes everyday, the sun rises a little higher in the sky, warmer days will eventually come. Whilst now is still a time to be hunkering down against the elements in temperate northern climates, it is also a good time to begin planning for the approaching season (if for no other reason than all this dark and cold is getting a little old for my liking).

For gardeners the tasks for the coming months are obvious - tidying, planning, seed selecting and starting. But I am also starting to look at how our menu will change, what produce will be coming into season and what wines and preserves I can make early on in the year. Open-farm 'lambing' days begin at the end of this month and continue through to spring, a great opportunity to get acquainted with local food producers. As we now have an allotment, we might visit a 'Potato day' to pick up some unusual tubers to plant. Most importantly, I would like to bring the season alive for our toddler son  - buds unfurling and baby birds chirping, the wonder of planting a seed and watching it grow - and need to plan as many outings and activities as possible to that effect, both in and out of the city.

The temptation, in the depths of winter, is to try and preempt Spring. Last New Year, in my eagerness to see something grow, I sowed tomatoes and aubergines on my shady windowsill - far too early, far too prolifically. By the time the initially weedy growth matured and got too big for the windowsill, we were still in the midst of frosts and biting winter winds. This year, despite my itching to get on and do something, anything, that affirms that greenery and abundance will once again be returning to my patio, I have not yet succumbed.  Instead I am quietly observing what is going on around me, waiting for the first signs of spring and tidying up a few stray ends in the garden, ready to pounce when the right day comes.

Wherever you are, in the midst of whatever season, I wish you a very happy and prosperous 2011.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

My new best friend

By Aurora from Island Dreaming


I have always had a thing for brand new stationery; indeed I was delighted, aged four, when I came down on Christmas morning to find an executive desk and chair set with all the (admittedly plastic and cartoon animal themed) accessories, filing drawers, blank papers and new pens a 4 year old could possibly want. I loved filing, I loved writing notes and memos, I loved taking telephone messages and writing to-do lists. I have retained my early love for stationery; but none of the organisational drive that keeps piles of paper and deadlines in check.

If my friends were to describe me I guarantee the first words out of their mouths would not be ‘punctual’, ‘organised’, ‘remembers birthdays’ or ‘excellent project management skills’. Whilst these are not the qualities I would necessarily want to be most remembered for; my ambivalence to planning and time management have probably slowed my progress towards to my simple living goals over the past few years. Last year, the garden had a separate journal all to itself which now sits on a shelf gathering dust.  At the same time I had a tiny pocket diary for appointments that spent most of its time at the back of a drawer; and a fistful of scrap paper with important dates and reminders stuffed at the bottom of my handbag and coat pockets.

The ability to survey your immediate and distant future and decide what you want from it is a useful skill in any walk of life. Being able to plan the steps to get there is half the battle of completing them. I am starting small; and more importantly immediately, as delaying until new years resolution time rolls around means I have lost a fortnight of planning time and will probably give up too easily. My approach in 2011 is going to be low tech - a week-to-view diary and a biro, carried everywhere I go. In addition I am carrying a pad of sticky notes for adding to do lists, shopping lists and other temporary reminders. This year, I am filling in my gardening plans before 2011 begins; and sowing dates will sit scrawled next to crafting deadlines, meal plans, financial goal deadlines, birthdays and appointments, all of which will be overlaid with shopping lists and important notes. 

This sounds chaotic, but as I need prompting to remember to do the most basic tasks (like putting the recycling out on the right day), a very crowded diary for a few months is a price I am willing to pay for a smoother running life. Gradually, as I prompt myself and these actions become habits, I hope the pages will be freed up for more interesting scribblings. A single 'bible' of all the information I need to go about my day is a simple enough system that I hope even I can keep on top of.

Do you struggle to organise your time and projects or does it come naturally? Do you plan your time carefully, or does an unscheduled life suit you best?










Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Little Cash on Hand

by Chiot's Run

There are so many types of emergencies that we need to be prepared for big ones, small ones, short ones and long ones. Chances are, most of us will never experience a big major emergency, but it's wise to be prepared. Your preparation efforts for these large scale emergencies can be built over a period of time (stocking the pantry, water filters, generator, emergency heater, etc). The small emergencies are the ones we really need to be ready for right now, they can happen to any of us at any time. What kinds of things do we need to be prepared for a small emergency, especially those you might encounter while away from home? Here are a few things you should carry in your vehicles or in your purse so you're prepared for those small emergencies that may arise while you're out and about.

In our cashless society it's easy to never have to carry any cash, but there are times when it's necessary. You may think you can run to the ATM for some cash if you need it, but if a storm comes through and the electric is out that might not be the case. Several years ago we had the remnants of a hurricane roll through and we were without power for 4 days. Not only were we without power, but so was the surrounding area. The bank didn't have power at first and the ATM was not working, the local gas station didn't have power to run their credit card machines and they were only accepting cash. Fortunately we had some cash to cover what we needed at the time. Maybe you won't experience a loss of power and the ATM being closed, but it could be something much more simple. Like being somewhere and needing $10 in cash and realizing you don't have any in your wallet, perhaps your husband grabbed it or one of your kids needed it for school. Or maybe you stop for gas and realize they don't take credit (there are still stations around here like that). It's always wise to have a little cash stashed in the car just in case. You can determine what amount makes you comfortable, or what you think with comfortably cover any "emergency" you many have, perhaps enough to cover a tank of gas is a good rule of thumb. Keeping some cash around the house is also a good idea, keep whatever amount you think will comfortably cover a few emergency needs.

Make sure you have supplies in your vehicles for minor medical emergencies. Keep a first aid kit in your vehicle at all times and make sure it's stocked. We have a kit in each of our cars and each year I get it out and make sure it's stocked with fresh supplies, swap out aspirin/meds and check to make sure the bandaids are still sticky. You don't want to be stuck needing them and not having them or having them be out of date. You don't have to buy a special one, but they are handy if you don't have the time to make one yourself (here's one that's only $9). Although making a few with your children would be a good way to teach them the value of being prepared.

Keep a few flashlights in your car and even in your purse and a small pocket knife or multi-tool. You never know when a flashlight might come in handy, drop your keys in the ditch, the lights go out in the store, your trunk light goes out. They sell all different sizes of flashlights to fit every need you have, from tiny keychain lights that only cost $5-$10 to big maglites that can take a beating rolling around in your trunk. We have a few of the large ones and I have 5-6 of these Mini Maglites placed all over the house. Of course you need to make sure you have some extra batteries and maybe a spare bulb or two as well. We keep candles in the house, but those aren't really convenient to keep in the car.

Having some water and snacks on hand is also a great idea when you're away from home. It's a great habit to get into, not only will you save money but you'll have some in case you need it. I have a bag that sits by the back door with some homecanned applesauce and bottles of water. Before we head out the door I'll throw in some nuts and dried fruit and a few other snacks. Not only does this allow me to have some healthy snacks in case I'm out longer than expected (which happens often when you're running errands, especially when the closest store is 30 min away), but I also save money because I don't end up buying water or food while I'm out. There area few other other things you might want to consider carrying in your car as well: some string, scissors, jumper cables, blankets in winter, an extra coat, etc.

How do you prepare for those little emergencies? Do you have any great tips for things to carry in the car "Just in Case"?


I can also be found at Chiot's Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Not Dabbling in Normal, and you can follow me on Twitter.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Spring Cleaning the Pantry

by: Chiot's Run

Spring cleaning not only applies to the house, but also to the pantry! This is the time of year when I start to make a concerted effort to eat up goods the goods I preserved last summer. Soon enough I'll be pulling out the canning pots and filing jars with this summer's bounty and packing the freezer with fresh berries. This means I must start preparing now. The last thing I want is to end up with jar and jars of stuff from years past and have to throw some of it away. I'm not one to waste food, especially food that I spent time and energy growing and preserving.



This is the perfect time of year to start using up pantry goods. With the coming of warmer weather comes the feeling of optimism. I no longer feel the need to conserve my food resources to make sure they last through the long winter. Those feelings give way to the hope of summer bounty and I finally feel safe eating up the last few jars of tomatoes. I know that in a few months, my tiny tomato seedlings will be producing pounds of fresh summer fruit that will be eaten fresh and canned for next winter.



I find myself often in the pantry looking over jars of goods deciding what I want to make for dinner. If I spot a few jars of tomatoes, pepper relish, fire roasted red & jalapeno pepper, and a few jars of chutney, I'll make a big pot of chili. From the freezer I'll add some ground venison, beef stock and some frozen beet greens or spinach. If I'm lucky I'll have a bottle of beer as well to add for good measure. A few heirloom beans will also get added to the pot if there are any left in the pantry. If we have some frozen milk left from our winter stores, I'll make some fresh mozzarella, and who doesn't love a sprinkling of fresh spring chives on top of any dish this time of year?



If I find myself with a lot of extra tomatoes, I'll make up a big batch of marinara. This will top fresh homemade pasta, or even a pan of lasagna if I have the time and energy to make cheese and noodles.



Not only do all these dishes help clean out the pantry of last year's bounty and make way for the new, they help save me time during this busy season in the garden. A big batch of of chili can be eaten on for many days as can a big pan of lasagna (and they get better with age). If I make an extra big batch I'll freeze it in meal sized portions for quick meals during the busy days of spring and early summer. My goal is to have most of the jars in the pantry empty by tomato canning season and to have most of the berries eaten from the freezer before the strawberries come on.

Do you make a concerted effort to eat up items in your pantry to make way for the new season's bounty?

I can also be found at Chiot's Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, beekeeping, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Not Dabbling in Normal.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Making A 5 Year Plan






















By Notes From The Frugal Trenches

I began making 5 year plans in my late teen years and have continued ever since. I've learned, through trial and error, not to make my plans and goals too specific and to focus on being on a journey. Five year plans work well for me because they fight my tendency to want everything here and now! They also allow me to work backwards with my planning, which helps keep me focused on baby steps and allows me to see how each year I'm working towards my long-term goals and dreams. One example is my desire for livestock within the next 5 years, so my currently yearly plan includes the goals of learning about raising goats and sheep and volunteering on a farm. These steps are easy for me to accomplish in this season of life and are great training for what may be to come.

My current five year plan includes the following topics:

Family Plans
House Plans
Emergency Preparedness
Animal/Pet/Livestock Plans
Green Plans
In The Garden
Crafting
Other New Skills
Volunteering and Giving Back
Faith
Savings
Education
In The Kitchen

Under each heading I have steps for Year 1, Year 2, Year 3, Year 4, Year 5. I monitor and change these steps as needed and as my goals change. My 5 year plan is fluid and reflects the changes in myself, my family and society. I keep my plans in a scrapbook, where I can add recipes, articles on keeping livestock, decorating ideas and financial tips. I also print of articles and jot down ideas, notes and thoughts.
Having a 5 year plan has had made me see firsthand that my dreams are not unrealistic, that I have passions, convictions and values which I will be able to live up to, with a bit of time and baby steps which move me in the right direction. Who knows, maybe one day I'll even own my own cow ;)

Do you have a 5 year plan or something similar? Has it helped you achieve your dreams and desires?