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bucklings to pasture, baby peaches setting AND Farmers' Markets starting

Posted 5/1/2015 9:46am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

At last, we were able to move the oldest bucklings out to the north pasture this week.  Following a short ride in the back our pick-up truck, they were turned out into their new home.  With a little human encouragement, they went straight for the tall grass, learning quickly that a touch to the fence (electro-netting and hot wires) would lead to unpleasant sensations.  It’s a painful lesson (I really do feel their pain), but once they learn to respect the fence, contentment reigns.

The pasture is tall and lush, and I love watching them move as herd from a distance.  I can stand at the south end of the orchard and see a school of little goat heads swimming through a sea of green.  Their ruminant brains guide them to seek out the best forage, but they always come running when they hear the sound of the grain bucket filling.

Baby peaches are beginning to set on some of the trees.  It appears that the orchard survived the freezing temperatures of last week. Our apples are in full bloom now, and our new bee hives have been placed next to the prairie.  The bees seem excited about dandelions, but I have seen them in the orchard too.  We’re trying really hard not get too excited about the prospects of fruit, but in truth, we’re pretty excited.  The game is on to prevent insect pests from getting to the fruit before we do.

The rhythm of cheese making is shifting from waltz to merengue.  Our does are about to start peaking in milk production, and we’ve quickened our step in the make room.  We’re making cheese every day now; bloomy rind cheeses are populating the aging rooms and the dishes are filling our large cleaning vat.  The dance of little cheeses: flip, brine, flip, wrap, price, sell; the steps and the partners are familiar. 

Farmers’ Markets

Yes, it’s the start of the Farmers’ Market Season Saturday, May 2nd.  We’ll be attending two markets on Saturday: Urbana’s Market at the Square and Chicago’s Green City Market. Wes and Maureen (our wonderful gelatieri) will be serving you in Urbana. I will be coming up to Chicago and introducing our GCM patrons to our new market cheese monger, Mark Hartstein.  We’ve got a great repertoire of cheeses for you on opening day:

  • Plenty of fresh chevre—plain, herbs de Provence, cracked peppercorn
  • Fresh whole milk ricotta-it’s firm but creamy—perfect for cooking or just drizzle some honey on top, add some fresh fruit and granola and you have a breakfast made in heaven
  • Introducing our new goat milk feta—our sheep milk feta was a very hard act to follow. So, we’ve been working on a recipe for a goat milk version that could live up to its ovine cousin.  I’m happy to report that this goat milk feta is NO wallflower. It’s got lots of tangy and slightly bitey flavor AND it’s nice and crumbly with a creamy mouthfeel—everything you crave in a feta cheese. Come try it. 
  • The bloomy rinds are back: Little Bloom on the Prairie (our camembert style) and Black Goat (ashed, geo-rinded cheese) will be making their appearances at the markets.  Both have beautiful but different rinds and will go perfectly with the spring vegetables you’ll be buying at the market, including shitake mushrooms and ramps if you’re lucky to find them.
  • Want raw milk cheese? We’ve got some beauties for you: late fall milk Moonglo and Huckleberry Blue—these batches were made last December and they are full of complex flavors.

You know you want gelato too.  So, Maureen has been busy crafting a rainbow of flavors (* indicate the flavors coming to Green City Market):

  • Vanilla 
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Espresso
  • Margot’s Fresh Mint * (mint from Tomahnous Farm)
  • Salted caramel swirl * 
  • Toasted coconut
  • Ginger
  • Green Tea
  • Carrot cake (made with Blue Moon Farm carrots)*
  • Honey chevre (Green City Market only)*

We’ll also be bringing our now famous goat milk caramels and our house made crackers (olive oil and multi-grain).  It should be a beautiful spring day for the first market, so come out and support your local farmers.

Other Farm Happenings—Lots going on, so read on

Road closure on North Lincoln-Detour in effect: It’s finally happened; construction for extending Olympian Drive eastward to North Lincoln has begun and the road is now closed just south of our driveway. That does NOT mean you can’t get to Prairie Fruits Farm! To the contrary, we have clear detour directions on our website.  The detour signs are in place and our logo (Chippy the Goat) with arrow signs are up along Ford Harris and Oaks/Willow Roads.

Other Markets, Open Houses, Farm Hours, etc.: In addition to the two Saturday markets, we’ll be attending the first downtown Champaign Farmers’ Market (run by The Land Connection) starting Tuesday, May 5th (4-7pm). We will attend every two weeks.  On alternate Tuesdays, we’ll be delivering CSA shares to folks in the Bloomington-Normal area. 

Our Wednesday Farm Open House starts Wednesday, May 13th (4-6pm). We’ll have gelato by the scoop, cheese and plenty of other treats. Stay tuned for details.  Our farm will be open to the public on weekdays: Monday-Friday from 10 AM to 5 PM.  You can walk around the farm (on your own) and peruse our farm shop. 

Wine Tasting—May 6th A tour of France with Todd Fusco from ArtMart 4-7PM. We will be tasting over 30 wines from all the major regions, paired with French themed appetizers prepared by Chef Alisa DeMarco. We will also have cheese and gelato available for purchase. Special discounts for wines ordered that evening. So grab your chapeau and joie de' vivre and join us for vinous soiree! Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at art mart (217-244-7979) or by calling Sarah Hess at 217-840-4097.  We have no ticket limit, so bring your friends. If the weather is nice, we’ll be tasting outdoors on the patio!   

Copyright 2014 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2014. 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.