In an attempt to organize our farm last summer, we implemented a maintenance scribbler for the machinery. It worked, sort of. It allowed my husband to look and see that the boys hadn’t done what he had thought should have been done. The object of this project wasn’t to create more work for him. It was to enable the boys to have more independence in regards to machinery maintenance and repair. What I didn’t realize is that although they have helped do oil changes and such for years, the boys didn’t know what had to be done and when.
The first step in setting up the maintenance scribbler was to have my husband make a detailed list for each piece of machinery. For example, the boys know they are supposed to grease all the machinery every time it goes to the field, but they didn’t know they had to check other things. So just writing, “Check rake is field ready” wasn’t good enough.
Second step, make sheets with check-off boxes the boys can initial next to each job as it is done.
The idea for machinery maintenance forms came along when I was already working on a veterinary-practices recording sheet. I decided that the same idea would work for the machinery binder. After a few days of staring at the screen, reading “Help” and the manual that a very helpful Saskatchewan reader mailed me, I still wasn’t getting anywhere. So I enlisted the help of our oldest son. He has the innate ability to “speak” to computers that I do not.
I had found livestock recording sheets to purchase for 30 cents a piece and decided that it was better to build our own. These forms would have worked for our livestock, but weren’t good for the machinery binder. I needed to be able to customize the size of the fields instead of making the purchased ones work. I wanted the records accessible on paper and on the computer because years ago we lost our hard drive and it happened quite suddenly. I had backed up information onto storage discs, but when we bought our new computer I found they weren’t compatible. When this happened, we lost two years of breeding records. We decided that we would have to be more careful next time because not only did we lose our own pedigrees, but if we are audited, you’re supposed to be able to give the government 10 years of cattle records now.
The other reason I decided on both paper and computer record-keeping is that not all of the people involved with our farm activities are computer people. The other point of having these sheets portable is that we can print off a few, stick them on a clipboard, and go to the pens or the field. As we work with the livestock or the machinery, we can quickly jot the information down. They can also be used in the barn for reproduction records and then when they are brought to the house, I can enter the information onto the Excel page on the computer.
GET TO KNOW EXCEL
If you want to make these sheets on your own computer, you need the program Microsoft Excel. When you open the program, you will be greeted with a screen that looks like graph paper. Take a moment and decide how many columns you will need for the type of record keeping you’re doing and type your column names under A, B, C, etc.
Once you have the names in place, you have to decide how wide you want the columns to be. You can make them wider by placing your cursor, mine looks like a cross, on the vertical lines and clicking and dragging them over.
For each piece of machinery, we listed the regular maintenance that has to be done each and every time the machine leaves our yard. To put a border around the log for each implement, highlight the whole area for each implement (click and drag from name of implement to the lower right under comments) then click on the “Borders” button.
Click on “all borders,” then click on the borders button again and select thick borders from the drop down menu. This will make a dark border around the section for each implement. If you click on Print Preview, under File, you will be able to see what it will look like finished.
I made the livestock records sheets so they could be printed either horizontal or vertical depending on our needs. But the process was the same as for the machinery binder forms. Print them off on three-hole-punch paper and you’re done.
If you are having a problem or just want me to email my blank sheets file so you can print them off at home, please feel free to email me directly. As long as you have Excel on your home computer, I would be able to do that with no trouble at all.
Debbie Chikousky farms at Narcisse, Man.
Email her at [email protected]