Fat cows make happy customers

Fat Cow Farm.

Mucca grassa agricola. That is fat cow farm in Italian as Peter Trono explained at a recent visit to the Fat Cow Farm store.

Walk into Wendy and Peter Trono’s farm store on Bingham Brook Road and you will find a trove of gorgeous meats and two charming and savvy folks who are farming in Charlotte. Fat Cow Farm is just one part of Trono Enterprises run by the Trono sons Zach, Lucas and Derick. Zach runs the farm, Lucas operates the oil business, and Derek does real estate.

It is the farm that is most interesting. Really, why do this? Wendy and Peter love the land, but it was Zach who initially provided the spark and passion to start the farm. Peter purchased 85 acres of farmland off Bingham Brook Road that required 18 Scottish Highland cows to clear and clean the land. These Highland cows are currently grazing on Harbor Road in Shelburne, replaced by award-winning Herefords. Seventy-five acres of the land has been deeded to the Vermont Land Trust for conservation.

Peter said the farming community was very helpful with advice, fixing equipment and stacking hay. The UVM agricultural extension service also lent a hand. A great community to be part of.

What surprised the Tronos most was the continuing balancing act among the size of the herd, the availability of a slaughterhouse and finishing for the meat. Bear Trap Custom Processing in Milton provides a great service to small farmers in the Champlain Valley. The Tronos are justifiably proud of the high quality of their meat, which starts with a great breed of cow and the ability to control everything on the farm so that the animals are fed with no hormones, antibiotics, additives, steroids or animal byproducts.

A challenge for the farm is predators, including coyotes and bobcats that stalk the chickens and sheep. The first line of defense against these critters was Big Tom Turkey. Big Tom would puff himself up and face off with the coyote or bobcat, scaring it off. Big Tom had a mate, but she ran off with a wild turkey. Who would have thought that a wild turkey had to offer more than Big Tom! Tom not only worked on the farm but was known to watch TV with Zach and share a bag of popcorn.

Unfortunately, the Tronos do not raise chickens or sheep because of the predation problem now that Big Tom has gone to his reward.

Charlotte community support for small farms is very important. You can find Fat Cow Farm meat at Spear’s Store, Peg and Ter’s and the Bearded Frog, among other places. The best place to buy this delicious meat is at the Fat Cow Farm General Store, 800 Bingham Brook Farm. Current hours are 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.