Learning everything from the ground up sometimes feels like standing underneath a waterfall trying to keep dry.  That’s why we don’t go anywhere without pencil and paper. One question to a local farmer who’s been raising one type of animal for twenty years more often than not results in a wealth of information far too valuable to let pass in one ear and out the other.

Take goats, for example. Here is a sample page of notes translated from a notebook that I recently found buried under a stack of fruit and vegetable catalogs:

  • worming
  • removable barn side
  • 1 wk rotational grazing, 3 wk life cycle parasites
  • plant rye or other in fall
  • oat and coastal Bermuda hay (ask for horse quality)
  • Jane Smith, friend, adult does (919) 555-1234
  • Alpines, Toggenburg, Morgan Hoewly (? pen ran off the paper here)
  • Rocky Mount Memorial weekend

At the top of the page, circled:

  • No cherry trees!
  • No pit fruit
  • 2 Azalea leaves can kill a goat

And, on the next page:

  • 4th Sunday June Zebulon goat meeting – mastitis speaker from NC State
  • Jane Doe, friend, Nubians, chickens, donkeys

As you can see, these notes cover a pretty wide range of topics – great information, but what to do with all of it?

Considering these notes must have been taken over six months ago (a guess as there is no date on this page of notes), and considering that I have at least three more undated, random pages of notes in at least three different notebooks (yes, of course we grab different paper and pencil each time), just on the subject of goats, I think it’s time to start putting my organizational skills to the test.

As I write this, however, I do not yet have a system in mind that doesn’t require re-typing all of my hand-written notes into a useful format.  If I do go to all the trouble of typing up my notes, where do I keep them? Printed out and filed in a binder is probably my favorite choice. Yes, I am the kind of person who, despite all the time I spend on the computer each day (or maybe because of it), prefers to read books the old-fashioned way: from an actual, paper book. Call me crazy; its just what I prefer.

On the other hand, it would be nice to have an electronic filing system. Sure would save space, paper, and ink. But then there’s all the more time spent on the computer. And what if the power goes out? Bye-bye technology! According to Murphy’s Law, the power will go out as soon as I need to look up that one critical bit of information, right when the goats are about to kid for the first time.

Well, for sure, there must be some happy medium. I think I will start by gathering all my notes, one subject at a time, and seeing what I’ve got. Sounds like a research project. Or, a scavenger hunt. Or, a never-ending quest.

Guess I’ll have to keep you posted (pun intended) on my note-collecting/filing progress, or not….I know, boring, boring, boring. But how else do you expect a city-dweller turned suburbanite turned country girl to remember how far she’s come in a relatively short period of time? It can be hard to think clearly while trying to keep dry.