Fat Toad Farm started out with a lovely French Alpine doe named Jupiter, who was hand-milked by farm owner, Steve Reid, in his garage. Today, Jupiter’s great, great, great, granddaughter, Artemis—and 52 of her closest caprine friends—complete the herd of Animal Welfare Approved dairy goats, whose milk is used to produce Fat Toad Farm’s line of traditional Mexican hand-crafted goat milk caramel sauces.
Fat Toad Farm is run by husband and wife team, Steve Reid and Judith Irving, as well as their daughters, Calley Hastings and Hannah Reid, and two invaluable employees, Katie Sullivan and Christine Porcaro. The family has spent the last seven years building a top-quality herd of milking goats—and perfecting the art of caramel making. Located in Brookfield, Vermont, the farm is nestled among apple orchards and a shady hillside. The goats graze the five-acre farm, along with 30 acres of surrounding pasture provided by friendly landowning neighbors. The herd is made up of French Alpine, American Apine, and Saanen goats, and is the product of years of research and intentional breeding for both milk production and overall health and wellbeing. “The rainbow of colors, markings, and spots help to differentiate each doe, all of which are great milkers, good moms, and very personable and friendly,” says Hannah. “We are trying to cultivate the healthiest and most productive herd we can.”
Pasture-based management is one of the most important aspects of the husbandry practices at Fat Toad Farm. High quality pasture is the staple of the goats’ diet and the goats are rotationally grazed (moved to new pasture every day) from May until November, and fed high-quality, local hay over the winter months. “One of the benefits of rotational grazing is the management of internal parasites in ruminant animals, particularly goats and sheep,” Steve explains. “If you establish a grazing program where the goats go to new grass every day, and don’t go back to previous pastures for several months, the parasite eggs within the goats, which drop with their feces, essentially no longer have hosts to pick them up and cannot be recirculated among members of the herd.”
The Fat Toad Farm family found out about the AWA program after another local farm with AWA-certified dairy goats suggested Fat Toad Farm should also apply for certification. After reading through the standards “it felt like the perfect fit,” Hannah explains. “Animal welfare is at the very center of our business,” she continues. “We spend a huge amount of time and effort and money on the health of our herd. We go above and beyond. The goats enjoy browse walks through the forest every day in the summer, which takes a huge amount of time, but we’re not interested in shortcuts. We love every single one of our goats and thought that AWA certification was a good way to show our customers and all our fans how much we care about—and prioritize the health of—our animals. It helps to explain how we run our business and why our food products are what they are.”
Fat Toad Farm was one of the first producers of artisanal Cajeta (a traditional Mexican confection) in the U.S. The Goat’s Milk Caramel Sauces produced at the farm are the result of combining a small number of fresh, simple, natural ingredients and about six hours of hand-stirring, resulting in a creamy, velvety, but not-too-sweet caramel sauce. Fat Toad Farm makes four distinct and unique flavors of caramel: Original, with fresh milk and pure cane sugar; Vanilla Bean, with whole organic vanilla beans; Cinnamon, with two different varieties of organic cinnamon sticks; and their newest flavor, Salted Bourbon, which is infused with Kentucky Straight Bourbon and organic sea salt. Their products are currently sold in over 300 specialty food stores nationwide, as well as via their online store.
To learn more about the Fat Toad Farm, visit www.fattoadfarm.com or reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org or (802) 279-0098. You can also follow Fat Toad Farm on Facebook to stay up to date on farm news, photos, and events.