My Ideal Farm Notebook

I love my notebooks. Notebooks are great! I have eight of them sitting on my desk right now. When you love notebooks, you tend to have a lot of them. You get notebooks to suit a particular need. You might feel that you need: a sketching notebook for the desk, a sketch notebook for hikes, a morning pages journal, a small notebook for writing juicing recipes, a thick all-purpose notebook for jotting down important information, and more. All good reasons for starting a collection of notebooks. You start out with good intentions and are all excited about your new notebook. And then, time passes and somehow the notebook fails. It never gets filled up. It never lives up to expectations. Another failed notebook. People who love notebooks also have a lot of failed notebooks.

I wanted to have a great farm notebook. One that really worked. So I gave it some thought, did a Google search, and came up with my ideal farm notebook. And bonus points to me for not having to buy anything and just recycling one of the husband’s failed notebooks!

1. Farm Log

I use my Farm Notebook as a log to keep records of all farm-related information. Things like the date when we switched to a new feed, date when the horses hooves were trimmed, notes on planting, phone numbers, notes on horse training, observations about the dogs’ behavior at the farm, and even notes on the weather. It gives me great peace of mind to have a place to write down even the small, little details that come to mind and mark the mini milestones of our farming life. Things like ” July 20 – tried dogs without leashes” and “July 21 – Barkley cut tongue and threw up, charged Batman”.

2. What Not To Include

I don’t use my Farm Notebook as a shopping list or a To Do list. I have Trello for that! I like to keep those things separate. Try to imagine Captain Kirk filling out his Captain’s Log on the Starship Enterprise. Would he include a grocery list?

I also have a second, bigger Farm Notebook where I write notes from farming-related books and manuals that I read.

3. The Right Pen

I think one reason why some people never get into notebooks is because they haven’t found the right pen. I couldn’t imagine writing in my notebooks with a ballpoint! Or a pencil! That would just be wrong for me. My favorite pen is the Uni Pin Fine Line 0.8 in black ink. It has a very nice feel and is water and fade proof. The finer versions like 0.5 and 0.4 work well for sketching.

4. The Right Notebook: Moleskine, pocket-size, soft cover, with unlined pages

Moleskines are pricey and there are a lot of similar looking notebooks available for less. But I’m a believer.  On a birding trip last year, my favorite hat blew into a muddy, murky fishpond. I waded into water up to my waist to retrieve my hat. When I got back to the shore, I realized that my Moleskine birding notebook was in my pants pocket the whole time. It was soaked through. To my great surprise and amazement, my notebook dried up perfectly fine in a few hours. None of the pages stuck together. None of my notes bled through. My notebook survived beautifully! What a notebook!

I like how the Moleskine looks, with its sewn binding and cream-colored pages. It’s sturdy and its size and soft cover make it easy to stuff in a pocket. I think you’re more likely to use a notebook if you like its looks. I am very happy with the one I use for my birding trips, so I wanted to use the same kind for my Farm Notebook.

5. Moleskine made better – customize it!

For my Farm Notebook, I wanted a pocket-size Moleskine planner/diary that started in June. A search through the Molesine website revealed that was no such Moleskine product! No problem. This turned out to be a good thing! Why be stuck with the standard printed out calendar format of a Moleskin planner/diary when you can just make your own out of a plain notebook? All you need is  a format you like, a pen, a ruler and you can convert a plain notebook into your ideal calendar/planner/diary!

My Farm Notebook has

  • monthly calendar view – will revise this to a two-page spread next time
  • week at a glance in two-page spread
  • week starts on Monday
  • Saturday and Sunday share one space
  • personal shortcut codes, like an asterisk to mark out important info

You can take this customization very, very far. If you Google “moleskine hack” you will come up with a lot of links to people who are passionate about customizing their Moleskines and have created entire systems for cataloging and organizing Moleskines. Click on this link to start.

weekly view
weekly view
monthly view
monthly view


This post is linked to the Homestead Barn Hop!

11 thoughts on “My Ideal Farm Notebook”

  1. Thank you for verifying/validating my exact trouble with all of my fabulous notebooks! No matter, I always find just one more that I need. Thanks for telling me your fav pen too. I love ultra fine Sharpies, as I have found the finer pens like Micron, are just too fine for me. I am definately going to try one of your Uni’s!!! Always willing if they are waterproof! Mandatory quality. Just wanted to say thanks for this whole darn post!

    1. You’re welcome Julie! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I’ve never felt comfortable using Sharpies for more than labeling things because of the “not for letter writing” warning on the pen.

  2. Sylvia, I just read this post now and want to thank you for writing it. From the time I was a kid, I loved notebooks too and pens! I used to admire your notebooks in grade school or high school when you would wrap the spiral notebooks so attractively in candy wrappers! I followed your example too but used gift wrap instead. I’m always on the search for the best writing pen and will have to try your brand. Did the notes from your uni pin pen wash out when you dropped your moleskin notebook in water?

    1. Hi Arlene! The uni-pin is waterproof. No bleeding at all even after being dropped in water! I still really like that pen. The only downside I noticed is that if you press down too hard (like if you’re trying to make a duplicate) the tip of the pen gets pushed in. My mom is another one who loves trying different pens. She recently switched to a different pen because she says the tip of the uni pin would get fatter over time. Never noticed this myself, but will ask her what pen she uses now.

      1. I tried the uni pin pen and love it for journal writing! It glides smoothly with very little pressure applied so I find that I can write faster. Thanks for the recommendation.

    1. Thank you for this link! That’s what I’m trying to do! I recently changed the format of my farm notebook and also switched to a bigger one so I could put in more notes and have less blank spaces.

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