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Goats and fences, caprine mothering and market news

Posted 5/12/2017 9:36am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

The saying, “the only fence that can hold in a goat is a fence that can hold water,” is not far from the truth.  Goats have an uncanny ability to find the one weak spot in a fence and break through. I’ve watched our goats enter the pasture, a lush sea of chlorophyll-laden delicacies, only to make a beeline for the fence that separates the pasture from the orchard.  It is usually a ringleader (La Mancha or La Mancha cross) who discovers the slouch and proceeds to stand on the weak woven wire to pull it down. Within seconds, others catch on to her plan and follow suit. 

If you’re “lucky” to witness the break out, the sight of 70+ frenzied goats climbing over the compost windrow to reach their prized fruit tree leaves has the surreal look of soldiers coming over the hill in surprise attack of their enemy.  As we rush into the orchard to minimize the leaf massacre, they know their break out time is limited. They dash from tree to tree, scarfing up as many leaves as they can.  Our human “troops,” greatly outnumbered by goats, divide up: one person moves to the rear, one or two (depends on how many people are on the farm at the time and who we can recruit to help herd them back) others try to contain the herd into a tight-knit group from the sides, while the pied piper herder, grain bucket in hand, entices the frenzied goats back to the barn with a treat even more prized than fruit tree leaves—grain! Once the last goat is back in the barn, we secure the back gate and search for the break out location.  It’s time to escalate containment options-hot wire fences go up next week!

On the eve of Mother’s Day, one of the last three pregnant does of the season kidded this morning. Naomi gave us a lovely 8-pound doeling.  Mothering is so much a part of a dairy farm.  We benefit from the annual rituals of giving birth and becoming a mother all over again. Every year, I become the surrogate “mother” to over 150 baby goats (well, with lots of help). Every year, our goat mothers give us their delicious milk to turn into delicious cheese, gelato and yogurt. We celebrate and honor them frequently, but “Mother’s Day” reminds us to treat them special. 

Farmers’ Markets

Week 2 of Farmers’ Market Season: We will be attending ONLY the Urbana Market at the Square this Saturday, May 13th.  We will return to Green City Market on Saturday, May 20th.   As a reminder, our location at the Urbana market is different from previous years: We are now in northeast corner of aisle 2.  This location is just south of our old location in the north row. The market has a map and, if you have trouble finding us, please go to the market information tent, and they will point you in our direction.  We have a diverse lineup of cheeses for you this weekend. Perfect cheeses to serve the mothers in your life:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Angel Food: our little bloomy “crottin” style—this mild, slight tangy and firm paste-pair with a rhubarb jam or some pickled ramps
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: our camembert-style goat round; the gooeyness is definitely happening on this current batch
  • Black Goat: our ash-coated “geo” (crinkly white mold that tastes like yeasty bread) rinded wonder—this cheese has an intense flavor and a very fudgy texture. Try some with poached fresh berries
  • Fresh Ricotta: YES, spring means ricotta here on the farm.  Spoil your mother and grab a wedge of this delicate and sweet cheese to serve as part of your mother’s day brunch.  I like to eat it with a drizzle of local maple syrup and fresh fruit.
  • Moonglo: we are down to the last several wheels of our late fall batch of Moonglo. This high-solids, raw-milk cheese is LOADED with complex flavors-nutty, fruity, toasty.  You can only get this cheese at the farmers’ markets now, so come out and get a wedge!
  • Huckleberry Blue: our late-lactation raw-milk blue—it’s creamy, slightly sweet and salty and very approachable as a blue cheese.  You MUST try it, even if you’re shy about blue cheese
  • Little Red: a raw cow milk cheese made by one of our fall cheese making classes! This is a hard, grating style cheese with a mild, slightly tangy flavor. We just made a ramp pesto using this cheese, and boy is it DELICIOUS!! You should give it a try-use in place of romano or parmesan.
  • Goat Milk Yogurt: whole goat milk, live cultures—THAT’S IT FOLKS—NO STABILIZERS, NO THICKENERS.  We sell our yogurt in pints and quarts. It lasts a really long time too.

GELATO We’ve been working on a few new flavors this week as well as the standards:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Espresso
  • Local strawberry (frozen from Klug Farm)
  • Rhubarb swirl (made with our very own rhubarb)  
  • Salted caramel swirl
  • Spiced pecan (Voss Pecan Orchard in Carlyle IL)
  • Fruitti di bosco with yogurt: mixed local berries (blueberries, strawberries, black raspberries) with our own goat yogurt

In addition to our cheese, yogurt and gelato, we’ll  have local grains crackers (blue corn-chevre  and buckwheat flatbread; flours and grains from Severson Farm), green tomato jam and goat milk soap

Other Farm Happenings Our first Friday night “Happy Hour on the Farm” featuring local brews, organic/biodynamic wines, cheese, salumi and other bites will be Friday, May 26th. I know this is different from what I said last week, but right now, this is the plan.   5-7PM. More details to follow.

Our Farm “summer hours” will resume on Wednesday May 17th.  The opening  hours on Wednesday the 17th will be 3-6 PM. We’re still working out the details for the days of the week and weekend hours. We will let you all know as soon as things are set.  During farm summer hours, folks can walk around the farm (self-guided), visit with the goats, enjoy a scoop of gelato or a cheese “snack,”  and just commune with the natural world around us. 

Don’t forget to peruse our “Dinners on the Farm” series too. Our dinner season starts tomorrow (May 13th) and we’re excited for the season to begin.   

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.