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setting up a Biotime log  RSS feed

 
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hau Mattie, when setting up a Biotime log I've run into the problem of needing to separate spaces, my first log book ended up more of a mess because I was using my laboratory method (it kept expanding, to infinity it seemed).

Now I have books for the gardens, orchards, pastures and one for our road as well. This has worked out fairly well for me.

I have added in amendments, microorganism counts, invaders, damaging insects, weather data, planting dates, sprouting dates, and sun hours.
Can you think of anything I am missing?
Thank you for your time and trouble,

Redhawk

 
pollinator
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Redhawk What is a Biotime log?

 
Bryant RedHawk
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It's a log you keep of the biological time line. Our guest Mattie Harland has an excellent book out on how to create and keep your own records.

A biotime note book is a great way to record your daily, hourly, or how ever often you go to your gardens, observations, measurements (if your taking any), even to the harvest results.
I keep soil conditions, amendments, planting times, seed types, time to germination, soil moisture content, well, just about everything that has to do with any plant, including tests performed and so on.
Mine are probably too complete as far as truly necessary information that most people would want to know year by year.
 
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Would it be fair to compare biotime to wilderness awareness?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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I think that would mostly depend on how wilderness awareness was defined.
In my mind, I define wilderness awareness from the hunter POV or the Hiker POV (to me these are quite similar), where I am aware of as much of what is going on around me, particularly animal activity.
If you are tracking game trails and sign with a notebook in hand and entering the what, when, where, conditions, etc. then I think the answer would be yes.

biotime (to me in my scientific role) is more about observing events and in the moment writing them in a note book so they are available for future reference and charting the flow from weather, seed to germination to fruiting plant to death of the plant, soil moisture after a rain, after no rain for X many days, etc.

When I am in the wilderness, I tend to wait till I've made camp for the night to do any writing, instead of stopping and making the notes just after the event happened.
So I suppose that even in my world It could be thought of as comparable after all.
 
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The last few years in our current home have been filled with sort of just unofficially observing all these things.  A biotime log (I think I will title it My Biotome) will be so helpful... Hopefully this somewhat scatterbrained grandma can learn some new tricks.
 
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This seems like a fascinating and useful concept. I keep lots of notes about lots of things but this seems like it would be a more formalized and directed path for helping me to remember to observe more.
 
master pollinator
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Hau, Dr. Redhawk.

I have similar issues with expansion and such when using a freeform logbook for anything. I still like using them, but I tend to do a lot of my recording in excel on a computer (I will have to upgrade to a tablet to update my notes in the field (well, backyard, really), as my sausage fingers don't like typing on even the largest smartphone).

I like the ability to display the data in visual representations if I am trying to convey ideas to others. I did this with one of my old neighbours when we were having a discussion (okay, argument) about best lawn-keeping practices. He was pissed off that I saw no problem with having a few different grasses, along with some ornamentals in corners that didn't get mowed, and clovers and dandelions and such in my lawn.

I was pissed off at him when he did me a "favour" by mowing my lawn for me. He mowed at like an inch or less, so you could see where the stems paled a bit near the ground, mostly because it would nip the flowering tops of anything that wasn't grass.

So I announced an experiment that had me not mow until after the lawn had recovered and all the little clovers and other elements of polyculture had gone to seed again. Then I set my reel mower to as high as it would go and mowed. I think it was about 4" high, maybe a little more (the breeze unfortunately blew some of the seed into his "lawn," which made me feel really bad when he noticed it growing some weeks later).

I also offered to rake/sweep and bag his clippings. I had an ulterior motive. I weighed each of our clippings over the course of August and September each time they were collected to establish how much biomass was being generated over that period, along with weather data (I don't water unless it hasn't rained in two weeks, and then I soak it).

The long and the short of it was that I showed him that I was generating almost four times as much biomass as he was, and he watered every other day. He had been convinced that I had been using a fertiliser up until that point, but he watched me like a hawk over that period (I bet him that if my lawn grew better, he'd let me help revamp his lawncare regimen).

So his lawn started being kept longer, and we snuck in some of the least visible biological support crew. He was even down with the compost extract, though he drew the line at the fungal slurry. I applied both regularly to mine, so he was going to get them anyways, but I figured I had pushed it far enough.

As to the visuals, I think the chart I showed him that juxtaposed biomass generated with time input really changed his mind, and the fact that the water to biomass chart showed that more water wasn't better helped to trim down on his maintenance time. I think that the time mowing versus biomass generated table was revealing, too. We were mowing at the same time, but I was removing more biomass, even leaving as much blade height as I did on the lawn.

Just one example of data being a mighty tool in support of Permaculture.

-CK
 
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Chris Kott wrote:

I tend to do a lot of my recording in excel on a computer

OK, a computer would work better for me I think, and I was thinking of using separate pages in a word processing type of program, but your suggestion of excel got me wondering if that would be easier to format and find my way to where I'm looking to enter or review. Any suggestions from you or anyone else about what it should look like?
I thought of organizing it with 7 large columns across the top, but of course the days of the week won't correspond year to year. Being a tad dyslexic, I'm worried that will end up just confusing me.
I considered 365 large rows, but am worried that would be a pain to scroll through.
I don't want the print to be too small as I want it to be enjoyable to use and my close vision's just not as good as it used to be, so the cells have to be large enough to be useful in at least 12 font size.
Maybe instead of a "single" document, I should consider doing a spreadsheet for each month to make things easier to get around?

I'm brainstorming as I type, and I'm really hoping some permies out there will join the storm! I think there are some sort of electronic journals out there, but I'm not terribly good with computers, and at the moment I'm using one with a *really* old windows release and the Excell is 2003, so I need something simple that I can upgrade easily when the household computer geek gets around to repairing my slightly better hand-me-down computer.  
 
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I think I have been keeping a biotime log for many years, but have not called it such. Every year I try to keep a garden record of what I plant and harvest and also what is happening around me. However, every year I get bogged down in it and fail to keep it going. I think it is because I try to record too much (see my blogpost on Garden Journal - Do you have one? How to make one, and why).

I go back and forth as to where to record things: in a notebook/diary, on a regular calendar, in an electronic calendar, electronic notebook, Internet garden blog...etc. The electronic versions are much quicker for me (I am a fast typist) and easier to search for things like, "when did I plant which varieties of peas?"

I once took a Google image of our property and used it as a base layer on a drawing program on an iPad, and then on the 21st (or close) of every month in the year, I sketched the shadows of buildings and trees several times during the day in different colors and on separate layers of the program. I then combined them in a slideshow to see how they changed throughout the day. (See Barbolian Fields - Site Analysis, Solar Sector - scroll down to the bottom of the page). It made it very easy to see the dramatic changes from one equinox and solstice to the next and proved to be a very revealing exercise!

However, despite the advantages of electronics, I find myself going back to the hand-written versions. The slower pace of writing things on paper seems to bring garden observations better into focus, and I feel I spend too much time at the computer already. They are certainly more entertaining to go back and read. Perhaps what I need is 2 journals: an electronic one to be able to find something quickly - the nuts & bolts of daily tasks; and then another paper version log where I note the sitings of hummingbirds, when the first crocus blooms, the comings and goings of bees and what is available to them to eat, etc. The latter, to me, is the real connection, the place to capture the wonder of the world around me, nature's patterns and relationships. I like the idea of "Biotime Log" - a simple log of observations without the "me" factor, i.e., details on what I happen to be doing.

Perhaps both are needed together to see the entire picture? I have yet to find the perfect system and am looking forward to reading about what other people do. I would love to read Maddy Harland's new book. I am such a fan (and a great fan of Permaculture North America magazine!)
 
gardener
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Jay Angler wrote:
Maybe instead of a "single" document, I should consider doing a spreadsheet for each month to make things easier to get around?

I'm brainstorming as I type, and I'm really hoping some permies out there will join the storm! I think there are some sort of electronic journals out there, but I'm not terribly good with computers, and at the moment I'm using one with a *really* old windows release and the Excel is 2003, so I need something simple that I can upgrade easily when the household computer geek gets around to repairing my slightly better hand-me-down computer.  


I'm still using Excel 97. I have Excel 2010, and really don't like it. I find it over-featured for what I do. (Still using Word 97 too, for the same reason. If I decide to write a book, I'll use the 2010 version, but it's over-featured for day to day use.) I log incredibly complex health stuff, sometimes 30 factors at a time, so I'm doing about what you are envisioning. I do monthly charts, 30 rows, and as many columns as I need to track what I'm tracking that month. Over a month and it's just a mess.

And your household geek can port your 2003 Excel to your other computer. This laptop I'm on runs windows 7, and I have Word and Excel 97 on them.

One vote for monthly, on an old Excel version that you understand, instead of current stuff that you don't.
 
pollinator
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Hi. When I read about Biotime Log, my first thought was to start one using the computer (spreadsheet). But soon I found out a paper version would be much better. I can take it with me wherever I want and write my notes whenever I want.
Because binding books is becoming my new hobby (because I am sketching a lot, I bind my own sketchbooks), I started making my own (first) Biotime Log. For the inside paper, on which I make the notes, I use 'millimeter paper'. I had that paper for years un-used on a shelve, now I finally know a way to use it.
 
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:Hi. When I read about Biotime Log, my first thought was to start one using the computer (spreadsheet). But soon I found out a paper version would be much better. I can take it with me wherever I want and write my notes whenever I want.
Because binding books is becoming my new hobby (because I am sketching a lot, I bind my own sketchbooks), I started making my own (first) Biotime Log. For the inside paper, on which I make the notes, I use 'millimeter paper'. I had that paper for years un-used on a shelve, now I finally know a way to use it.



I agree. I believe a paper version is often the best option. My log is ready-made and it has half a page per day. That may be enough for some but obviously not for others. The idea of the book is to encourage record keeping but each of us does this differently and may have a different focus. What we do know is that observation develops strong nature connection and deepens our knowledge of our local ecosystem. It is a very fine lifelong habit to cultivate, it benefits our health and it is something we need to pass down as a practice to the next generation.
 
Maddy Harland
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Dave Burton wrote:Would it be fair to compare biotime to wilderness awareness?



Hi Dave, for some people yes, if their subject matter was nature. For others it may be a garden record involving what has been planted, seed or plant varieties and what worked well in a growing season. It really depends on the person and what they chose to log.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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I like to write things in bound notebooks that have quadrille paper (graph paper) as the filler.
This type of book lets me draw graphs and charts when there is enough data gathered and it helps when I make drawings to keep things in proper proportion. (it is also a habit developed in all my college science courses)

I also like excel documents since I can set these up to automatically tally data and thus have a running totals page.
Spread sheets are wonderful tools but I use them as secondary data collectors, mostly because writing in a book makes you stop, think and try to be concise, this also helps other thought processes.
I separate my spread sheets into: Garden Plots, inside each of these are individual pages for each type of plant located in that garden plot, each of these pages has columns for each data point I want to keep records of, these are also in my field note books.
The main reason I keep both types; physical and electronic, is because I've had computer HD crashes that were unrecoverable in the past.
By having both types of records I have a permanent backup (the written book) just incase something unfortunate should happen.
The other reason for the redundancy is;
If you wait till you are back inside to make your notes, you will invariably forget something.
Or several details, that could be quite important, might be left out.

In the end every individual is just that, an individual, and we all should keep our records in a manner that is comfortable for us.
I used to carry a personal recording device, but I had an unfortunate "accident" that destroyed it and I ended up loosing a full days notes and data collection.

Redhawk
 
Chris Kott
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I have always liked to write stream-of-consciousness excercises and first drafts by hand, on paper. It feels more authentic, and it's like the physical process of putting pen to paper primes me for creative and linguistic exercise.

I just need to be able to manipulate the data better than written logs would allow.

Also, in a world where we might be able to have really inexpensive data logging sensor systems soon, deployed across our systems and logging data in real time to map microclimates, and able to turn that into, say, a temperature-indicating colour-coded topographical map, I think I would let the data speak. I would probably break out the log book as a diary of my conclusions and suppositions about what the data actually means in the context of my projects, but information systems like that can observe in far greater detail and accuracy than ever I could.

Even in such an automated scenario, though, I think the log would be useful in digesting the information. I don't know that it would agree with the idea of a Biotime log, necessarily. Any thoughts?

-CK
 
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The only time it worked for me was when I pinned a ruled coulomb paper to the wall to the greenhouse inside the door as a reminder. It had the high/low reading inside  and outside and a longer line for observations like fog, snow and plantings. During the summer I open the north wall so noting the high difference was informative. When the night temperature was above 50F The temperature would self regulate to a high of about 80F but earlier in the year with the wall closed it would quickly go to 110 which would stop the fruit set on the tomatoes.
 
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This is such a great idea! I've been writing my observations of plants and wildlife at my place for years, but never thought of giving it a name! Would like to read this book for ideas on organization. 😊
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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As I see in the reactions here, different people have very different Logs.
Mine, which I started a few days ago, will have some descriptive notes on what caught my eyes, ears, etc. that day in my garden and in nature. Notes on weather, temperature, birds, what I did in the garden. Short notes, about one line each, not much numbers (I'm not a 'numbers person'). I do not feel the need to put it in columns. Probably once in a while I'll add a small drawing to depict what I saw.
 
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I bought a book this year "The Naturalist's Notebook" by Nathaniel Wheelwright and Bernd Heinrich, that is a 5-year calendar-journal. It's organized  so that on every page you can see a four day period over 5 years making it easy to compare differences from year to year. It's only for brief notes, although you can reference other journals for more detailed notes. I haven't started it yet, I'm waiting until we move, but I'm hopeful. I've had numerous recording keeping systems over the years, and none of them has stuck. Most of them I find too fussy.
'
 
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Stacy Witscher wrote:I bought a book this year "The Naturalist's Notebook" by Nathaniel Wheelwright and Bernd Heinrich, that is a 5-year calendar-journal. It's organized  so that on every page you can see a four day period over 5 years making it easy to compare differences from year to year. It's only for brief notes, although you can reference other journals for more detailed notes. I haven't started it yet, I'm waiting until we move, but I'm hopeful. I've had numerous recording keeping systems over the years, and none of them has stuck. Most of them I find too fussy.
'



Sounds very similar to the Biotime Log - i.e. the space for notes is brief -  except I do not give years so that you note the years at the beginning of every entry. That way it last as long as there is space.
 
Maddy Harland
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Thank you All for your great comments and sharing. What I understand from everything you are saying, each of us has different ways of noting observations and we each have different focuses. This means some use spreadsheets, some docs, some ruled note books, some record in detail daily, and others less frequently. Some use logs for gardens, some for nature observation, others for weather, me specifically for honeybees! Others may note personal cycles and psychologies. We are all different. The most important thing about this is that we keep records. We work to deepen our observations and understanding of cycles and patterns. This is important. It is ongoing education and a lifelong practice and a core part of permaculture design.
 
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Good morning
Somewhere in my mind it feels like I'll need to drag myself kicking and screaming into logging. I know I need to start this if I want to be successful in permaculture. Am I alone or are others crappy at logging? I know I have to break my desire to be physically working and doing stuff. I certainly need to chill out and smell the roses, so this is ideal. How do I begin?
Brian
 
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Brian Rodgers wrote:Good morning
Somewhere in my mind it feels like I'll need to drag myself kicking and screaming into logging. I know I need to start this if I want to be successful in permaculture. Am I alone or are others crappy at logging? I know I have to break my desire to be physically working and doing stuff. I certainly need to chill out and smell the roses, so this is ideal. How do I begin?
Brian



Like I said, decide on your focus, spend just a few minutes every day in the same 'sit spot' - treat it like permaculture meditation! Log in one line. No essays. And not even every day. Start simple and small. Build up slowly if you need to. Make the space something that nourishes you rather than yet another job. Open your eyes to the beauty that surrounds you in nature and be grateful. It will become your sanctuary.
 
Brian Rodgers
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Thank you Maddy I'm going to try exactly that today. I have a small hand-bound book made by my daughter-in-law I can use to get started.
Brian  
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Brian Rodgers wrote:Good morning
Somewhere in my mind it feels like I'll need to drag myself kicking and screaming into logging. .... Am I alone or are others crappy at logging? .... How do I begin?
Brian


Hi Brian. I am crappy about logging too. Not 'kicking and screaming', I like to start a log or journal. But I have to discipline myself to continue more than a few days.
I found out I can do a daily drawing challenge, for at least a month long. If I can do that, I am able to write in my Log daily too. Only a few lines about the weather, or whatever I noticed in my garden. I made my own little Log-book, in the same way I make my own sketchbooks. Both my book for daily sketches and my Biotime Log are on the table. They catch my eye every moment when I sit there or walk along.
 
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