Tiannan Woods Ranch: Goat milk with a side of Bento
Wendy Lee, Proprietor
Tiannan Woods Ranch
Think goat herding. Its scrubby bucolic landscape and bleating voices seem far removed from the glow of a monitor and the whirr of a hard drive. But for Wendy and Billy Lee, owners of Tiannan Woods goat ranch in Tennessee, the two worlds are intertwined. "There's a lot to keep track of on a ranch and I wouldn't be able to do it all without my Mac and Bento," says Wendy Lee. "I use Bento to keep track of the goats in my herd, who their parents are, what they look like, all their registration information. It's a great solution and works much better than any other database application I've tried."
From Milk to Meat
It all started with a common milk allergy. ”My daughter is allergic to cow’s milk, so my husband and I purchased a few goats for their milk,“ says Wendy Lee. Fortunately, the family already occupied 25 acres of rolling ranch land in Philadelphia, Tennessee, so the goats felt right at home. Milk flowed and the family enjoyed ranching so much they decided to turn it into a full-blown business. Neither had ranching in their blood. Wendy Lee worked as a graphic designer and although she studied science and biology in college, didn’t have extensive experience with livestock. Still, the couple purchased a buck and began, well, making more goats.
”We realized that we have a large population in Tennessee that eats goats,“ says Wendy Lee. ”They want goat meat, but it’s not available commercially yet. So they have to go to small farmers. We saw a niche and decided to fill it. We kept our milk goats, but we decided to breed more goats for meat.“
Tiannan Woods ranch was born and the Lees’ herd grew. Today they have a productive herd of about 18 milk and meat goats. And with that herd comes some serious record keeping. ”We’re required to register our breeding animals and at least number every kid that gets born. You also need to keep track of weights and condition and other details,“ says Wendy Lee. ”You end up with a lot of information that needs to be stored and sorted.“
Choosing a platform and application to organize all that information was pretty straightforward. ”I’m a trained graphic designer and I’m very familiar with the Mac,“ says Wendy Lee. ”When my husband got me an iMac for Christmas, it came with a trial of Bento. I decided to give it a try and really fell in love it it. It turned out to be the perfect solution for us.“
Keeping Track of the Herd
Wendy Lee built her own custom database using a Bento template. Her basic form includes everything from the goat’s name to its weight and lineage. She has even included photos of each animal. ”The ability to design your own forms is just great,“ she says. ”Being a graphic designer, it’s important to me that things look balanced and function well. I started with a template and used the layout tools to place the fields just where I wanted them.“
Customization is key, even in goat herding. ”It’s incredibly dynamic. If I suddenly decide that I want to look at the information a different way, I can just create a new form. It’s just that easy,“ she says. ”I can have Bento display different types of records-I can design a record sheet to display a goat’s whole life. Then I can go in and use a different record sheet to display information with a different focus, how often they’ve been visited by a vet or when I last trimmed their hooves.“
The Tiannan Woods database also includes multiple smart collections that cull and sort information into more easily accessible chunks. ”I’ve created a ton of smart collections that sort my records automatically for me,“ says Wendy Lee. ”The collections can show me all my does, all my bucks, all my kids-with just a click. It’s fast and easy and it gives us the information we need to keep tabs on things and make projections about our business.“
Bento also plays nice with the other tools in the Tiannan Woods ranch business arsenal. Wendy Lee uses the Apple iWork suite and Microsoft Office Mac 2008 for word processing and spreadsheets. She built and maintains the ranch website with iWeb. She also uses iCal to organize her hectic schedule. ”Bento has iCal integration built in, so I could put dates into my database and have Bento post reminders to iCal,“ she says. And while she hasn’t made the connections yet, she plans to link the two apps to make life even easier. ”It’ll be tremendously helpful for keeping track of when the kids will be born and when the animals need checkups or any health-related maintenance. I’m always at my computer so it’ll just remind me when it’s time to do those things.“
Wendy Lee also plans to keep track of her growing kids with Bento. She’ll chart weights and keep photos as the kids grow. ”If I need info about a doe or a kid, I’ll know exactly where to look,“ she says. ”I can get it and go on and do what I need to do. It’s a tremendous time saver, that’s what I really like about it.“
It seems that Bento will be an integral part of the Lees’ growing business-now and into the future. ”I see myself doing other things with Bento,“ says Wendy Lee. ”It seems like something that I could use for anything, business or home related. As we expand, I imagine we’ll be using Bento for even more of our business.“