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Goats go to work, guineas on the move, layers return to the farm AND PEACHES!

Posted 7/24/2015 7:58am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

We had planted a lot of different cover crops this spring in our attempts to diversify pollinator habitat and recuperate weedy, tired ground.  One of the areas we planted was our former cane berry area. The Canada thistle had so overtaken, it was impossible to find the berries among the thorns.  Sorghum-Sudan grass is known to smother thistle, so we planted a swath of it.  Over the past month, it has grown close to eight feet tall.  It turns out that this grass has great forage value—do we cut and carry or do we bring the goats to the forage? Solution: build an enclosure and put the retired and non-lactating does in the Sorghum-Sudan grass. 

goats in sorghum sudan grass

Goats, especially old goats, don’t like change; goats on the dole (not producing milk) get lazy too. Moving them from the comforts of the doe barn was not easy, but enticement with grain helped overcome their inertia.  The other thing goats don’t like is wading through vegetation that is taller than them; you never know if a predator is lurking inside the tall grass.  So, we had to cut a few lanes inside the Sorghum-Sudan “jungle” to allay their fears.  After 36 hours, they have already made a pretty good dent in their edible home.  They still whine and complain a bit when they see me, but they have a job to do, and they seem to be enjoying it.

The theme at the farm this week seemed to be livestock on the move.  One of our farmer friends (Cathe Capel of Seven Sisters Farm) had decided to sell some of her older laying hens as her pullets started laying and offered them to us.  We have been without layers since the winter and starting to miss collecting our own eggs, so we said yes.  To receive the layers and settle them into their new home, we had to move our little guinea keets from the chicken coop (their temporary home) into their moveable pen.  Guineas are even more of a challenge to move than goats.  If they escape, they run so fast, they’re nearly impossible to catch.  Small guineas are a bit easier to capture than adults as you can still scoop them up in the palm of your hand. It took four people to catch one guinea during the move.  With Blue’s help (he wanted to eat one so bad), it took me only a few minutes to corner a few that escaped from underneath their moveable pen.  It’s peach season at the farm. 

guineas in moveable pen

The harvest has begun and the long wait to shove chin-dripping peaches in your mouth is over. The Red Havens are especially large this year; one peach weighs almost half a pound! We started our U-pick season too.  Our days and hours are: Wednesdays and Fridays 2-6PM. 

chippy with a red haven peach

We’ll also be selling firsts and seconds both at the farm and at the farmers’ market (Urbana and The Land Connection Markets).  Dani, one of our cheese makers and orchard managers, will be selling firsts and seconds fresh peaches, along with some delectable baked goods (sweet and savory peach gallettes, peach jam bars, thumb-print cookies and more), at the Heirloominous Farm stand at the Urbana Farmers’ Market this Saturday.  If you’re not sure where this is, just ask us at the market tomorrow.

Farmers’ Markets

We’re attending Urbana’s Market at the Square and Chicago’s Green City Market this Saturday.  If you’re looking for some ripe gooey bloomy rind cheeses to eat with your fresh tomatoes, come see us.

  • Black Goat—the rinds are looking gorgeous these days, and the cheese spreads beautifully on a nice crusty bread—be creative with your toppings.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: this batch of our camembert-style cheese is more reminiscent of our old “Angel Food Brie”—flatter and a gooey layer between the paste and rind. The taste is delicate and creamy.  We’re offering them at a discounted price this weekend, so get them while they last. 
  • Angel Food: They are back after a few weeks of summer vacation.  Standing tall with a firm paste, they will stand up to the peach jam you’ll be making with all those seconds peaches we have for sale. 
  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper—perfect for a summer salad or to adorn your burger Fresh ricotta: it begs to be joined with fresh berries
  • Goat milk feta: firm, crumbly, tangy—delicious—feta watermelon salad anyone?
  • Moonglo: spring milk batches are now mature and nuanced in flavor; notes of tropical fruits overlay the nutty-meaty flavor of this raw milk cheese.
  • Huckleberry Blue: creamy, raw milk blue; you can taste hints of the Rhine Hall apple brandy used to wash the rind of this cheese.

With all the great fruit available at the markets right now, pie, cobbler and crisp season is HERE. Our gelato is the PERFECT accompaniment:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Fresh Mint
  • Salted caramel swirl
  • Frozen Yogurt
  • Lemon Chevre
  • Plum Sorbetto

Are some of the flavors you can expect to find at the markets this weekend. 

Due to some cancellations, we now have a few tickets available to tomorrow’s Mexican Farm dinner as well as our Backyard BBQ dinner on August 15th.  The menu for the Mexican dinner will posted on the website later today, but I can tell you that the kitchen has been busy making tamales and fresh hand-made tortillas.   

Copyright 2015. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2015. 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.