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Amphibian metamorphosis, Kidding season a wrap, First outdoor farmers' market and other farm news

Posted 5/2/2019 11:16pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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 Farm News

The farm has become a water world. The dry lot behind the barns is a pond, a liquid barrier across which the goats won’t cross to get to the pasture. The grass between our house and the barns barely peaks above the ephemeral pools. The borrow pit pond, whose steep barren banks once exposed the destruction of construction, now hide under the shimmering serenity of water overflowing toward the creek and even flowing westward toward the road. Just when the sky appears to brighten and offer some reprieve, another round of thunder clouds rolls in to unload a continuous round of raindrops.

As the frustration and exasperation give way to resignation, I am thinking that it’s good time to be an amphibian. The trilling toads have started to trill during the daylight hours, emboldened by the expanding water world that surrounds them.  Surely it must be easier to find a mate in the continuous pools; surely they must feel that time is on their side.  

In between the raindrops, our last doe kidded on April 30th; she dropped twin bucklings with little fanfare.  Despite a few challenging and tragic deliveries, this year’s kidding season was swift and smooth. The oldest group of kids has been weaned, and the younger ones are growing like weeds. It’s a relief to know we can sleep soundly without worrying about late-night or early morning deliveries.  

Farm Market Offerings This Weekend: First Urbana “Market at the Square” starts May 4th, 7 AM to 12 Noon.

This is our 14th season at the Urbana Farmers’ Market. Our location is the same as last year-in the southwest corner of the market (first row, next to Moore Family Farm). We’re excited to be back outside with our fellow farmers. We are flush with cheese and gelato for the first farmers’ market. Our cheeses are the perfect foil for early spring veggies like asparagus, greens and wild-harvested ramps.  Try a simple sauté or lightly roast some veggies with olive oil and top with any of our spring cheeses: easy to make and a flavor party in your mouth.

Here’s the cheese lineup:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie—There’s a nice gooey layer between the rind and the paste now. It tastes like buttery mushrooms! Try warming it with spiced pecans (Voss Pecan orchard will be at the market this weekend!) and a drizzle of local honey
  • Angel Food-our little crottin style bloomy, it’s compact, firm with a tangy paste. As it ages, the mushroom notes from the rind take hold. Slice over a salad of fresh local greens.
  • Black Goat-our ash-coated mold-ripened cheese. The rind looks like brain corral; the paste is still firm and fudgy with a slightly yeasty bread dough flavor on the palate.  Enjoy with local honey or a dollop of local jam.
  • Moonglo-Enjoy a wedge of this complex, raw-milk beauty. Each wheel is washed in a cultured brine made with pear-leaf tea. It’s great with local charcuterie or melt it for a fancy grilled cheese sandwich.

Grab a pint gelato (3 pint special is still a thing—buy 3, get $1/pint off) :

  • Vanilla
  • Buttered Pecan (with Voss Orchard pecans)
  • Maple walnut (with Funk’s Grove maple syrup)
  • Salted caramel swirl
  • Lemon Crème
  • Chocolate
  • Stracciatella (chocolate ganache ribbons in vanilla gelato)-very limited
  • Black Currant-Cassis—made with locally grown black currants from Midwest Agroforestry Solutions and Kentucky distilled cassis (black currant liqueur)

Can’t make it to the market on Saturday morning? No worries: the farm is open this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, 1-4 pm.

During the month of May, the farm is open weekends, 1-4 pm each day. You can still visit with the goats (the babies are growing so fast), stroll through the orchard and just check for new signs of spring life on the farm.  You can also enjoy a scoop of gelato OR cheese board with a glass of wine/beer or a black currant spritzer.  Need a little caffeine? We can make you a special espresso drink. We can even put a scoop of gelato for an “affogato. 

SUNDAY CINCO de MAYO SPECIAL: Lucky Pierre fresh hot bagels and chevre AND DOUGHNUTS!!! Limited availability so first come first served.

Check out the new items in our farm store and stock up on local products:

-eggs, meats and poultry from Bane Family Meats (Sidney)

-soaps from Red Barn Farm (including loofa soaps and liquid soap)

-Pancake mixes from Funks Grove Heritage Fruits & Grains-think pancakes with jam and chevre!

-Animal Welfare Approved Bandanas

-Charcuterie from Piemonte Sausage Co.  (pancetta, pork loin filleto)

-locally milled flours from Janie’s Mill AND MORE!

Other Farm Happenings 

There are a few open seats for the first seating (10 am to 12 noon) of the Mother’s Day Brunch Buffet. Check out the amazing menu that Chef Raquel has crafted and book your reservations NOW.  The second seating is sold out!

I’ve posted a bunch more of the farm dinner themes and dates on our website and our ticket sales page (ShowClix), so check them out and make some reservations. We have some great additions this year:

  • Jake Chappell, Chef of Vincent in Chicago will be doing a lamb dinner
  • Eric Damidot, Chef of NoMi Kitchen (Park Hyatt, Chicago) will be doing a France meets Midwest themed meal
  • Chef Raquel Ritz is tackling a five course meal focused around all things milk
  • The Great Pumpkin Patch is back this year for our very popular Pumpkin & Squashes themed dinner
  • Vicia Restaurant, St. Louis (Chef Michael Gallina) will venture north for a Sunday afternoon local food feast
  • and we’ll end the season with a Whole Hog-Triptych brewery holiday feast.

These tickets go fast, so grab ‘em while you can.

CSA sign up through Blue Moon Farm! Blue Moon Farm is offering a new customizable CSA (Community Supported Agriculture for those unfamiliar). They are partnering with a number of other local farms (including ours) to offer “add-ons” in addition to their weekly vegetable shares.

The customizable CSA puts you in charge of deciding what products you want and when you want them.  They have multiple pick up locations too! Their season starts some time in May, so don’t delay in signing up for a one-stop shop of some of the best local food in Central IL.

Behind the Scenes Tour & Tasting

Michael Darin, our special events coordinator extraordinaire, will be offering weekend tours of the farm with a tasting of several cheeses. The first tours will be offered on Saturday/Sunday, May 18th/19th at 2 pm and again at 3 pm. These tours will be offered twice monthly through the summer. Guests will gather under the Prairie Pavilion to start the tour. Michael will give a brief history about the farm and some background about the owners Wes Jarrell and Leslie Cooperband. 

He will then guide guests around the farm and creamery where they will learn about raising goats, how the farm functions day-to-day, as well as how the creamery transforms our goat milk into delicious cheese and gelato. The tour will end with an interactive cheese tasting in the Real Stand Farm Store.   

Tours are conducted rain or shine, and last approximately 45-minutes. Please be prepared to walk around the farm; comfortable closed-toed shoes are advised. No reservations are required, Cost is $10 for adults, $6 for kids 12 and under. Glasses of wine or beer can be added to the tasting for a tour price of $6.   

Goat Walk Happy Hour

How about accompanying the goats out to pasture after their evening milking and then enjoying a glass of wine or beer or a special cocktail with some cheese? We will be hosting a very special happy hour like no other on Thursday, June 27th, 6-8. We will be taking reservations for this event (limited to 50 guests only), so save the date and stay tuned for more details.  

Copyright 2019. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2019. All rights reserved. 4410 N. Lincoln Ave., Champaign, Illinois 61822 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC is responsible for the content of this email. Please contact Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell with any inquiries.