Our Farm & Family
You’ll find Fat Toad Farm down a beautiful, winding sometimes muddy, sometimes snowy, sometimes really muddy, dirt road carving through the hills of Central Vermont. We started out hand milking a lovely French Alpine doe named Jupiter in our garage, and seven years later we are milking Jupiter’s great, great, great, granddaughter Artemis and 50 of her closest caprine friends in a modern parlor. Fat Toad Farm is run by husband and wife team Steve Reid and Judith Irving, their daughters Calley Hastings and Hannah Reid, and two perfectly invaluable employees Katie Sullivan & Christine Porcaro. The family has spent the last seven years building a high-quality herd of French Alpine milking goats and perfecting the art of caramel making. The FTF currently milks 50 goats every day, twice a day, and uses the fresh, sweet milk to make their unique goat’s milk caramel sauces. Fat Toad Farm’s caramel (the traditional Mexican confection known as Cajeta) is the happy result of combining a small number of fresh, simple, natural ingredients and a lotta love (and stirring). From beginning to end grazing, milking, stirring, bottling, labeling, marketing & shipping it all happens right here on the family farm.
Fat Toad Farm was one of the very first producers of artisanal Cajeta in the United States. Their products are currently sold in over 300 specialty food stores nationwide, including Whole Foods, Williams-Sonoma, Fairway Markets and is celebrated in Jeni’s Splendid Banana Cajeta Ice Cream. Over the years the Fat Toad Family has stayed true to its mission of working together as a team in close connection with their land and animals to make a high quality artisanal product.
The goats are the heart and soul of our farm, their health and well-being is our highest priority. Our 55 milking does (female goats) are rotationally grazed during the pasture months on thirty acres of neighboring green pastures, they are also fed high quality grain and hay to supplement their diet. The does are bred in the fall by our four beautiful bucks, Thunder, Obe, and Major, and after a five month gestation period they will kid in March. Baby goats (kids) are called doelings if they are females and bucklings if they are male. We keep some doelings that will become future members of our herd and raise them together with their mothers.We take great pride in the quality of our herd and their milk and always use the freshest milk to make our farmstead Goat’s Milk Caramel Sauces (also know as Cajeta). Click HERE to learn more about how we make our Goat’s Milk Caramel Sauces.
Our 40 laying hens also have a very important function on the farm. Like the pigs, they often act as the clean-up crew. In the spring, they roam around free range scrounging for insects of all kinds. In the summer months, they live on pasture in a chicken tractor and are fed whey from the cheese making operation, organic grain, grasses and insects from the field. Some of uor organic eggs are sold at our farm store but mostly we eat ‘em ourselves!
In cooperation with our good friends and neighbors John and Lynn Lypkvoich of Spruce Lane Farm, we grow a large portion of our own food and spend a great deal of time in the gardens and greenhouses. John and Lynn know just about everything there is to know about all kinds of organic vegetables, fruits and berries and sell their mouthwatering goods at the Norwich Farmer’s Market every Saturday throughout the summer. Enough food is grown in the summer months to provide for both the Spruce Lane and Fat Toad families and interns throughout the year. During the harvest season you can find us in the kitchen canning, freezing and preserving produce. We also have a root cellar in which we store other crops such as, potatoes, garlic, and onions. Good, healthy food is one of the cornerstones of our lives.
Our commitment to the environment
Our family harbors a deep love of Vermont and a strong connection to our natural environment. It is important to us that we act as careful stewards of the land that sustains us. We utilize local and organic products and services whenever we can and endeavor to conserve resources as much as possible. Early in 2011 we started working with Efficiency Vermont to help us increase our efficiency and reduce our energy consumption. One of our primary goals for the coming year is to devise a way to reuse and recycle the heat that is produced during the caramel making process. We are also very craft re-users and recyclers of our product containers. We re-use cheese containers for frozen tomato sauce, pesto, apple sauce, etc., and re-use our jars for herbs, beads, change – just about anything you can think of!
Food is alive and well in Central Vermont and we are grateful to be part of this agricultural community. We rely on each other for support, encouragement, equipment and skills. We work hard to grow our own food and manage our own farms, and we always celebrate our hard work with food! We have recently helped to form the Floating Bridge Food and Farms Cooperative, an organization designed to bring together local farms, restaurants and lodging to strengthen the community and to offer agricultural experiences to the public.
Our Farm Name
Many people ask us how we decided on the name Fat Toad Farm, good question! For generations this land and farmhouse we occupy was known as Apple Hill Farm in honor of the apple orchard surrounding the house, but when Steve, Judith, Calley and Josey (Calley’s older sister) were ready to register a farm website in the spring of 2007, they discovered the name Apple Hill Farm was already taken. That same spring, as the world began to thaw and return to life, the family started to noticed the significant population of well-fed toads hanging out in the gardens, barns and orchard. Toads are very sensitive to their environment – they are known as an indicator species and would be the first to flee unhealthy soil or water. The toad population seemed like a good omen, and so Fat Toad Farm was born. Our good friend and neighbor Ed Koren, a cartoonist for the New Yorker, created our fabulous logo and we were off to the races!
Our Newspaper Delivery Service
“Molly, go get the paper.”