Made in Vermont: Big Picture Farm
TOWNSHEND, Vt. (WCAX) - Tucked in the hills of Townshend, the goats at Big Picture Farm live a pretty sweet life.
“The key to a happy goat? Making sure the grass is always greener where they are,” laughed owner Louisa Conrad.
She says these four-legged friends are the stars here at the solar-powered, animal welfare-approved goat dairy, set on a scenic 100 acres.
“We’re a farmstead confectionary, which means we use all of our goat milk and turn it into goat milk caramels, chocolates and candies,” explained Conrad.
She runs the farm, alongside her husband, Lucas Farrell, and their five farmhands. Conrad and Farrell met at Middlebury College, and while they initially worked in education, things took a goat-y turn in 2008. The duo made the jump to agriculture, and over time, opened their own farm after falling in love with goats.
“Goats are magical, mystical creatures. They are so friendly and wonderful. People are always surprised if they haven’t hung out with a goat how special they are and how much personality they have,” said Conrad.
With all that land, and all those goats, they set out to find their niche in the local goat dairy market.
“There were so many wonderful cheesemakers and it felt hard to compete,” explained Conrad. “The confection area in all those stores hadn’t yet flipped to sort of using local, organic, high-quality ingredients. And so we saw an opening there.”
Caramels, truffles and chocolates galore -- all of their tasty treats are made and wrapped on site. Of course, the process begins with the goats.
“The milk goes from one room to the room right next door where we boil the caramel down,” said Conrad.
Citing the chemical buildup of the byproduct, she says goat milk makes for a smooth, rich caramel. And, the freshness of it doesn’t hurt, either.
“Because we use the milk fresh, the day it’s milked, it really doesn’t have that same goat-y... you get like a little extra tang and a little extra sweetness. But, it’s not overly goat-y. People have said they’re scared and they try and they love it,” she said, of the funky taste that typically accompanies goat products.
However, it’s the packaging that makes these goodies unique, putting the goats center stage.
“To be able to tell the story of these goats and what they were doing on a particular day, and who they are,” she said, referencing the colorful packaging. “Because they’re actual individual goats that have personalities. Fern doesn’t like to jump across the stream, Junebug will come up and say hi.”
Friendly goats and flavorsome treats-- that’s the big picture at Big Picture Farm.
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