Big Picture Farm in Townshend, Vermont, is a little slice of goat heaven tucked in to the green mountains. The farm is occupied by a herd of 36 Alpine, Nubian, and Saanen goats, two herding dogs named Elvis and Josie, two barn cats, about 25 chickens, 3 hives of bees, and 3 pigs. Goat happiness is key here. The goats are fed organic grain that looks almost good enough to snack on, showered with love, affection, and care, and rotationally grazed on lush Vermont pastures.
The goats thrive on the care they are given, and are some of the healthiest animals I’ve ever been around. Big Picture Farm is proudly Animal Welfare Certified, which is the most comprehensive certification for animal health and wellbeing, and one of the best markers of animal happiness. Animal Welfare Approved farms undergo regular audits to ensure that the farm is following the standards set by the organization, including a healthy grazing system, one of the most important ways to keep ruminants (grass eating animals) healthy and happy.
The milk produced by the goats goes in to two products. The first of these are Big Picture’s farmstead goat milk caramels, the most delectable sweet treats that I’ve ever tasted! The award-winning caramels for which the farm is famous are lusciously soft nuggets of caramelized sweetness with a delectable undertone of creamy milk. Once you have a Big Picture goat caramel, you will never look at caramels the same way again.
Secondly, during the summer season, the milk is used to make two cheeses; Sonnet and Haiku. Sonnet is a firm goat tomme, almost a goat-milk version of a manchego, while Haiku is a semi-soft cheese also made from the raw milk of our lovely goats. Both of these cheeses are only made while the goats are on pasture, which means that they will change very slightly week to week as the milk changes throughout the season, depending on the pasture or weather. This is something I really appreciate in a true farmstead cheese; because no two days are the same, no two cheeses are the same, and each cheese is an edible record of that moment in time in that specific place.
I’m fortunate to be the new farm manager at Big Picture, which means that I get to make cheese, milk and care for the goats, help set up pastures, sell at farmers markets, and do a bit of everything else that goes in to running a goat dairy. This opportunity has already been a huge learning experience for me and is a big step towards having my own dairy one day.
Why did I choose Big Picture Farm as the place for the Wandering Cheesemonger to pause her wandering? Big Picture exemplifies the kind of producer I want to work with and to support as a consumer. The farm is solar powered, feeds organic grain, rotationally grazes the goats, limits the use of chemicals and antibiotics, is animal welfare certified, and produces impeccable products. You can feel good eating these delicious caramels knowing that you have chosen a sustainable, humane, and delectable treat. What more do I need to say to convince you to add Big Picture caramels and cheese to your shopping list?
To read more about Big Picture Farm, and to find the cheese and caramels (as well as a few other goodies), follow this link: http://www.bigpicturefarm.com/