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Diary of a goat journey, farmers' markets and farm happenings

Posted 6/9/2017 10:41am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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 Farm News

It’s been eerily quiet in the kid the barn since the departure of our lovely group of 48 doelings, now dairy girls in the state of Vermont. Erica, our herd manager, documented the trip with a photo diary. I thought you might enjoy it, so here you go:

Diary of a goat journey (by Erica Navis) with photos (photo gallery)

6/2/17 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, Champaign, IL

We loaded the travelers into the stock trailer in the late afternoon, enticing them with grain and fresh hay. As they cried about the sudden change of scenery, from lush pasture to four metal walls, they were confused but curious. Little did they know, by this time tomorrow, there will be a lot of change coming their way. You could tell some were more ready than others. The outgoing ones were already nibbling on hay, while a few of the more timid ones surrendered themselves to a corner, hoping this would protect them against the world.

Before we hit the road later that night, I took a moment to sit in there with them and give them a pep talk. We were going to get through this together, and they were going to be just fine. After a few mechanical trials and tribulations, we were off.

6/3/17 Eastern Indiana

The staff at the front desk at the hotel smiled as I asked to fill my buckets up with water. It wasn't a request they get too often. They escorted me to the laundry room sinks that I came to know very well because of the many refills I had to make. When we tucked them in the night before, they were a little groggy from the drive and slept rather sound. I quietly crept up on the trailer in the morning to see what they were up to before I stirred them up for feeding time. They were content but I'm sure they woke up in panic mode thinking "where am I?!"  The moment one saw me, they all in unison started their morning bellowing.

Attracting a lot of looks and probably waking the neighbors, I quickly got their hay feeders and grain troughs filled to their hearts content and opened up the doors to give them some fresh morning air.  After a quick breakfast, we were on the road again. It wasn't long before we hit the Ohio border. Cannellini Jr. (aka Cannellini’s daughter) insisted on getting a picture at the welcome center. 

We stopped for lunch at a rest stop right before Cleveland, OH. This was the first time our load felt small parking between two semis in the truck area. We opened up the trailer so the little girls could get some fresh air, and they enjoyed watching the trucks drive by on the interstate. There were a couple of curious folks who came over and visited with them. We gave them a nice long break before we hit the road again.  

6/4/17 Upstate NY-Randolph Vermont

It was bitter sweet waking up at the crack of dawn to feed these guys for the last time. There was a beautiful sunrise to start the day.  I had to carry buckets of water down from our 3rd floor hotel room for the little gals and then they pooped in it. Let's just say I got my exercise that morning. It would only be a few more hours before we would reach our destination. I’m imaging that this is what it feels like when you send your kids off to college, but in this case, they aren't coming back home. It is hard to see them go. I gave them extra cuddles knowing in just a few hours our trailer would be empty on our way back home. 

We had made it across the length of Pennsylvania then the long trek northward through New York. We definitely had left the flatlands of Illinois and Indiana behind, winding up and down the mountains sides as we finally entered their new state of Vermont. The travel rep at the welcome center was excited to meet the girls because June is National Dairy Month (only in Vermont or Wisconsin!!) 

Before we knew it, we had arrived at their new home sweet home. Ayers Brook Dairy is at a beautiful location hidden between the mountains. The whole family came out to meet the goats as we unloaded them into their new pen. They skipped off the trailer full blast and were beyond excited to be on land again. They were happy campers, and I was very relieved to officially make it there with all goats happy and healthy. This was the end of our journey as we packed up and headed back home. It was an enjoyable trip with the girls and I know they will have a great life at Ayers Brook Goat Dairy. 

Farmers’ Markets

This week, we’re attending just the Urbana Market at the Square. Our repertoire of cheeses is growing a even more with both raw-milk feta AND Magia Negra. Ricotta is on vacation this week, but will return next week.

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper—light, fluffy, lemony, YUM!
  • Raw-milk Feta: YES, it’s back. Our first spring batches are finally ready for prime time.  Packed in a whey brine for flavor and preservation, this cheese is perfect for summer salads, grilled veggies and home-made pizzas!
  • Angel Food: our little compact bloomy rind—firm paste; great with some homemade rhubarb jam
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: our goat milk camembert. Our favorite chefs love to put this cheese on the grill to give it a light smoke. OMG
  • Black Goat: our ash-coated bloomy with a hint of yeast on the rind; it is perfect on a baguette with a drizzle of local honey
  • Moonglo: these raw-milk tomme wedges are the last of the late fall-milk batches. Get ‘em while they last
  • Little Red: raw cow-milk, grating style with a smoked paprika rub. It is a perfect substitute for any grating cheese—use in a pesto, grate it over pasta or roasted veggies.  THIS IS THE LAST OF THIS ONE-TIME BATCH OF CHEESE, SO GRAB A PIECE NOW.
  • Magia Negra: our nod to a Manchego style cheese, sharp nutty notes with hints of tart berries. Rind is rubbed with an olive oil-black currant & aronia berry paste. 
  • Huckleberry Blue: the last of the raw-goat-milk blue made last December. This cheese is creamy, sweet & salty—the most flavorful blue in central IL. Give it a try.
  • Goat Milk Yogurt: plain, whole milk, available in pints or quarts. I eat this every morning for breakfast (my version of breakfast of farmer champions); only available at the markets and on the farm.

We will have crackers for you to accompany those cheeses-both oat chevre and herbed flatbread.

Bring on the heat, because we’ve got plenty of the frozen dairy to cool you down. Here’s the line- up of flavors by the pint:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Fresh Mint
  • Lemon Balm
  • Fruitti di Bosco & Yogurt (mixed berry: strawberry, black raspberry, blueberry)
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Mexican Coffee (coffee with cinnamon and kick of cayenne)
  • Local Strawberry (made with fresh strawberries from Meyer Produce)
  • Mint Stracciatella (fancy for “chocolate chip”; chocolate is from Ethereal Chocolate-an IL bean to bar chocolatier in Woodstock IL)
  • Blueberry-Meyer Lemon Sorbetto (made with blueberries from Pitcher-Patch Farm in Southern IL)

Farm Happenings

Farm Summer Hours: Summer hours are low key and a great way to see the farm transform as veggies, fruits and flowers start to grow.  We are open for you to purchase cheese, gelato (pints and single servings both), local farm products and PFFC “merch.”  From time to time, we’ll have special things to see and do (special gelato flavors or u-pick fruits for example).  For now, open hours are:

  • Wednesdays, 3-6 PM
  • Fridays, 11 AM to 6 PM
  • Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 PM 

Don't forget to follow directions to the farm from our website. This will ensure easy travels during the road construction on N. Lincoln Avenue.

Family Friendly Friday Happy Hour on the Farm

Friday, June 9th is our second Friday Happy Hour at the Farm (5-7 PM)-THAT’S TONIGHT.  Come out to enjoy a summer evening at the farm-bring yourself or your whole family. NO RESERVATIONS REQUIRED.

We’ll have local microbrews available as well as wines by the bottle or glass (all of our wines are either organic or biodynamic and our prices are VERY reasonable).  For the non-alcohol drinkers, we’ll have Homer Sodas available and iced mint tea. Grab some cheese, a wedge of Pekara Bakery baguette, charcuterie from Smoking Goose, a jar of Autumn Berry Jam and farm-made treats (pickled asparagus, ramps and mushrooms anyone?) and you’ve got some delicious local food snacks to accompany your beverages. 

Sarah will be making her highly addictive popcorn made with Serverson Farm organic popcorn, nutritional yeast and truffle salt. 

Farmer David Bane will be back with wood-fire roasted chicken from Bane Family Meats.

The Young and the Fretless (an old timey, Americana band) will spin some tunes too.  Guests can stroll around the farm, or just hang out on our lovely stone patio and watch the sun go down.  Of course, you can visit with the goats too.  The weather should be PERFECT!

CU Farmers ordering is open NOW (6/9 at 8:00 AM through Monday, 6/12, 10 PM) Blue Moon Farm, Bane Family Meats and Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery have teamed up to offer the CU Community an online farmers’ market.  If you can’t make it to the markets on Saturday, or you just don’t want to fight the crowds, consider CU Farmers.  It is simple, convenient and comprehensive (veggies, meats, eggs, cheese and gelato).  You won’t find a better deal on some of the highest quality local foods around. Here’s how it works:

1) Go to the website and set up an account

2) Order products from Friday (8AM) through the following Monday (10 PM). Select your pick up location (one in Champaign, one in Urbana) before you check out.  Pay online with a credit card.

3) Farmers fulfill your orders and bring them to two pick up locations on Wednesdays for you to pick up (5-6 PM for both locations)

4) Pick up locations are either Faith United Methodist Church in Champaign on Prospect Avenue OR the east parking lot of Lincoln Square Mall in front of Common Ground Food Co-op.   

Farm Dinner Updates Summer is the perfect time for lighter fare. We have some fantastic casual meals planned for July and August—burgers, fish fry, summer vegetarian, Cuban brunch—check them out and make your reservations now before they sell out too! 

Copyright 2017. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2017. 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.