How We Organize Our Records

In the previous post, I discussed the importance of records and briefly mentioned we use a journal for our enterprise, land, and timber records. It is more important that you are keeping records than how they are kept.  However, some organization will benefit you now and reduce confusion, concerns, and disagreements when your assets begin intergenerational transfer.

Over the years we have taken examples of journals and similar documents we have seen and have then tried to incorporate the best of each into ours. Anything thought, discussed, and acted upon whether completed or not related to our land and timber is recorded in a journal.  We use one journal for each Tree Farm or enterprise we own or manage.  While it does take some time to record all the information, it really is nice to be able to find what was done on some date in the past.  You will be surprised how the attitude of those you deal with can change when you describe in detail from a written record “you said or did such and such” and to be able to quote the day it occurred.

Our enterprise, land, and timber journals are divided into four broad sections, and each are discussed below. Not all items in each section are mentioned for simplicity.

management plan section includes:

• a description of the Tree Farm or enterprise, its physical and legal location, size, ownership, deed locations, and name and contact information of the consulting or agency forester or manager, if appropriate.

• a list of long term goals with the date it was added, changed, completed.  Due to the nature of these goals, only a few are shown as completed in recent years.

• a list of short term goals arranged similarly.  More of these are shown as being completed.

• a timeline to meet the goals established. Our timeline typically includes not only operational or management occurrences but financial information from which an internal rate of return is calculated.

journal section includes:

• a list of adjourning landowners and resource individuals along with contact information.  We struggle to keep the list and contact information current as contact information changes.

• previous use of the land or enterprise before we began management, if available. This helps us establish goals, know what to expect, and recognize unique issues.

• actions to comply with best management practices are listed. BMP’s are very important to management of our enterprises, land, and timber and provide direction to all we do.

• soil types and their potential for our intended use are described if applicable.

• a day-by-day description of all activities, what was said or done, and any cost or revenue associated with those activities.

account section includes:

• a record of expenses and income related to the cost basis in the enterprise, land, equipment, and timber (merchantable and pre-merchantable).

• acquisition costs, depletion allowances, current and sales volumes and values, changes in timber classes.

• current and previous basis in each account.

map section includes:

• a map of farm or enterprise locations, a road map, and driving or walking directions to farm.

• soil maps, timber tract maps, legal section maps, topographic maps.

aerial photos, aerial photos with facilities, utilities, and special site locations such as my Grandfather’s old swimming hole in the creek or the spring in which Allen’s grandmother washed her clothes.

• drawings and written descriptions of unusual boundary, corner and property line locations.

Some of our journals are over 200 pages long so the use of electronic recording, searching, and storage is important as discussed in the previous post.  We use a system where we do not have to reprint every page each time a new entry is made to one of the sections mentioned above.

If you are interested in using the services of a records manager with experiences similar to yours, I am willing to work with you.  You can email either Emilie ( or me ( for more details.

Regardless of how you decide to maintain your records, start now because good records can be very useful to your family during intergenerational transfer.

Images courtesy of Google Images and NMS.
This entry was posted in family communication, family farm meetings, family legacy, landowner, Management of Tree Farm records, Tree Farm management, Tree Farm record and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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