Record keeping doesn’t have to be stressful. It’s a way to discover things about your farm that will help you make better long-term decisions. You can use a ledger book or a computer — whatever helps you maintain consistency. Software programs can make your data more meaningful.
Software has become more user-friendly over time, and while it may not make the record keeping process fun, it could help you see the overall picture of your operation. Some programs track purchases of inputs and how you use the input on a particular enterprise or field. You’ll be able to keep track of repair and maintenance records for specific farm equipment and produce balance sheets, income statements and cash flow budgets.
For many livestock operations, a good time to start keeping records is when the veterinarian comes to check the herd. Vets usually charge per head, so that data can help you develop a list of animals that need attention. You can use the same data to develop health histories of your animals, which will lead to more informed exams and diagnosis in the future.
Make record keeping a team effort for your family. Sit down and work on the records and budget together. Perhaps one person can read the information while another person types it into the software program or writes it in the ledger book. Also, if you do a little bit each day and don’t save it all up for the end of the year, you won’t become overwhelmed.
If you’ve done the work throughout the year, year-end procedures can feel more satisfying. You can generate year-end reports with a few simple clicks and not have to sort through stacks of bills lying around the home or office.