When fall hits, life on the homestead picks up the pace. There is a flurry of activity in order to prepare for winter as well as sales of seasonal items. You might be running around storing produce, setting up stands and welcoming eager fall visitors. Staying organized for fall is a must if you don’t want to become overwhelmed.
Homesteaders make money in a wide variety of ways. Some grow crops, herd animals or create products. Others give school tours of their homesteads or rent out cabins on their property or rooms in an old farmhouse. No matter how you earn money through your homestead, staying organized both physically and mentally will help you through any busy times and help you maintain a positive reputation.
Here are some key ways to stay organized on the homestead this fall:
1. Assign a Place for Everything
You’ve likely heard this advice a time or two, but it’s worth repeating because it works. Each item that you regularly use on your farm should have an assigned location (inside and outside). If you get in the habit of putting things back where they belong, you’ll also become more productive, since you won’t waste time hunting for an item that isn’t in its appropriate place.
2. Create More Storage
No matter the size of your home or how much acreage you have, figuring out creative ways to gain more storage allows you to become better organized. Extra storage is particularly important during the fall, when you are likely canning, making preserves and putting up the feed for the winter.
For example, take advantage of empty space on an outside wall by adding cabinetry to hold gardening tools or store items you’ll need for winter. Outdoor cabinets have to stand up the elements, so look for hardy materials like aluminum. You may also take advantage of underutilized sheds — put in extra shelving and neatly organize storage bins so items can be kept neatly hidden away.
3. Keep a Paper Trail
It’s easy to toss receipts aside when you’re busy trying to fulfill the needs of your customers or keep your homestead running. However, you’ll need that paperwork when tax season arrives. It’s important to keep a simple file to organize receipts. Buy an accordion file and label the sections with subjects such as “supplies,” “advertising” and other typical expenses.
This allows you to quickly add up your overall costs when tax season arrives and make sure you don’t miss any deductions. If you’re uncertain what is a qualified expense, consult with a good tax professional.
For everything else you need to worry about, it helps to keep a planner with you so you can jot down tasks as they appear. Keep a whiteboard hung up in your main business space or home office to outline your major goals for the fall season. Writing down your many daily activities will help you stay focused even in crazier periods.
4. Store Food
One of the benefits of having your own homestead is having enough food to feed your family at a greatly reduced cost. However, prepping for winter storage of food isn’t always an easy task. With a little out-of-the-box thinking, however, you can find places to keep food over the winter.
For example, store winter squash in containers under your bed, store cured potatoes in a cool and dark place such as a basement or cellar and store fruit such as apples and pears from August until December in a separate refrigerator.
5. Set Up Work Zones
If you want to work efficiently during your busiest seasons, take the time to set your homestead up in zones that work with the flow of your daily tasks. For example, place chickens next to the dairy barn so you can milk your cows and then collect eggs before turning to other tasks.
Figuring out zones is a matter of deciding where you do specific tasks, including sewing, gardening, and cooking. Make sure all the needed items for that task are in that area.
Staying Organized For Fall Benefits Customers, Too
At the end of the day, if you serve customers in any capacity, put them first so they will return time and time again. If you rent out cabins, go the extra mile and add a welcome basket for your visitors. If you sell canned goods, throw in a free cookie with every sale. Staying organized for fall lets you take the time to carry out these special touches and keep your homestead business put-together.
If you don’t directly serve customers, then put your focus on simply making your homestead the best it can be. By the time winter arrives, you’ll be ready for a break to prepare for the next hectic season — spring.