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Animal Arrivals and Departures AND Season Cheese Debuts

Posted 6/17/2011 9:07am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
It's the time of year that the poultry arrive for our farm dinners. Two weeks ago, our "freedom ranger" meat chickens arrived as day old chicks. They are sturdy, fat-legged chickens that LOVE to forage. Even as day-old chicks you can see it in their anatomy.  They are designed to eat pasture and bugs.  We have them in our kid barn and they are already developing their adult plummage.  Wednesday morning of this week, our Muscovy ducklings arrived at the Post Office. We are raising them for the "100 Yard Dinner." 
They're SO different than chickens. Apart from the obvious anatomical indicators: nail-polish pink bills and delicate webbed feet (with toe nails for tree climbing apparently), their first instinct after being liberated from their transportation box, was to jump in the water container we had provided for them to DRINK!  Muscovy ducks are supposed to be more of a land-loving duck, but clearly it is hard to take the water out of the duck.  They're also known for their prolific insect (flies especially) eating, so we're excited to get them big enough to roam outside in the pastures and close to the goat barn. 
This is also the time of year that we make decisions about which doe kids to keep and which ones to sell.  It is bittersweet because, inevitably, everyone involved in caring for them has his or her favorites.  Nat, one of our new cheesemakers, fell in love with one particularly charismatic doeling he nick-named "black goat."  She is the twin daughter of Velvet, and we decided to keep her twin sister but sell "black goat" to a wonderful young couple who are starting their own goat dairy and farmstead goat creamery in Door County Wisconsin.
Nat with Black Goat
There were lots of hugs and kisses before her departure, but we know she is helping to start another wonderful herd in our neighboring state to the North. We feel honored that some of our does will now populate that the state that has the highest number of goat dairies in the US. 
On to the markets, and cheese in particular.  Many of you have been waiting for the arrival of some of our longer aged, hard cheeses.  I am pleased to announce that both Huckleberry Blue (Spring Variation) and Molllisol Pecorino Romano will be at the farmers' markets this Saturday. The Huckleberry Blue is made with spring milk and has an intense piquant blue flavor. The blue veining on this cheese is much more prolific than our late lactation version.  You can still taste the hints of grape jam and cheese nuttiness in the body of the cheese.  The Mollisol Pecorino was made a year ago with Plank Farm raw sheep milk. It has a somewhat sweet-nutty taste accentuated with that wonderful fatty acid finish. The texture is nice and firm, great for grating over a summer pasta dish. 
We are attending three farmers' markets this Saturday--Urbana, Green City Market and Oak Park. The weather forecast is chance of showers, but just bring an umbrella, and you'll be able to shop to your heart's content.  In addition to the blue and pecorino, we'll have:
  • Fresh chevre--plain, herbs de Provence and cracked pepper
  • Fresh sheep milk ricotta--wonderful texture--crumble it on that same pasta dish you're going to make with the pecorino
  • Sheep milk feta--it's saltiness can be asset when pairing with food--you won't need to add more salt!
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie--these camembert-style rounds are just beginning to ripen, so you can either eat them now, or let them sit in your frig for a few days to get more gooey.
  • Angel Food--our goat milk brie--this batch is also a bit firmer than our usual oozy style, but just let them warm to room temp, and the taste is wonderful
  • Ewe Bloom-delicate rind and intense creamy texture-yum
  • Black Sheep--the soft-ripened sheep milk cheese with ash on the rind
  • NEW!!! and exclusive to the farmers' markets: Baby Ewe Bloom (aka "baby bloom") and Baby Black Sheep--we decided to conduct a little 'experiment' with size--small rounds of both styles of cheese and these little delicate morsels are perfectly ripe after only eight days. Try one!
GELATO: Wes and Stewart have been busy spinning their creamy goat milk gelato. This week at the Urbana Farmers' Market, we will have:
  • Simply Vanilla
  • Luscious Chocolate
  • Essence of Chocolate Mint
  • Hazelnut
  • Local Strawberry
  • Local Cherry
Come early for the best selections. 
If you miss us at the markets, you can come out to the farm on Tuesday afternoons from 3-7PM.  I'll let you know what we expect to have at the farm early next week.  EAT LOCAL, BE HAPPY!