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hangin' by a limb and farmers' market news

Posted 6/6/2013 6:57pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Farm News

Nearly a week ago as Friday evening rolled into Saturday morning, I awoke not to the sounds of thunder or high winds from the latest rainstorm, but to Wes’ opening the back door. Apparently, I had slept through a raucous thunderstorm that took out our power.  Wes had gone outside to make sure that the generator had turned on, only to find a large tree limb stretched across the roof of our little red shed and our pole barn.  The fiercest part of the storm had passed, but the rains were still coming, so I threw on a raincoat and some boots and headed outside with Wes, flashlights in hand to assess the full damage and check on the goats.  We had noticed signs of rot at the base of this large silver maple—the major clue being birds coming and going from inside the base of the tree—clearly taking advantage of a gaping hole inside.  Clearly, we didn’t realize the extent of the rot until the storm damage was before us.  With only the light from the flashlights—I was using a combination of the flashlight app on my smart phone and a headlamp—it was hard to see how large this limb really was and how much its weight had crushed in the roof of the shed and tore holes in the metal roof of the pole barn. We went inside the pole barn and climbed up the stairs to the hayloft to place buckets underneath the roof holes where rainwater was now seeping inside. 

Once that was stable, we ventured out to the pasture where we had just moved the oldest group of weaned kids along with the retired does.  I had feared that the old ladies would have taken the igloo shelter for themselves, leaving the little ones to wail in the pouring rain. As we approached the gate, it became clear that the kids had taken over the igloo and the old ladies---Chocolate, Habanero, Chippewa and even the brazen Huckleberry were standing out in the rain, soaking wet and moaning in distress over their situation.  The additional wooden shelters that Wes had put out in the pasture for the kids were partially submerged under water, and clearly, the little ones sought higher and drier ground inside the igloo, forcing their grandmothers out to brave the elements.  We quickly opened the gate and escorted the old ladies back to the barn; they were most eager to follow us (except Jethro, the yearling wether and brother of Ellie May, who seemed so traumatized by the storm that I had to drag him from the pasture to the barn).  Thankfully, there was no damage to the barns, and just wet bedding where the rain blew in from the windows. So, we closed up the windows, put down fresh straw bedding, gave everyone a round of hay to calm their nerves and headed back to the house. 

One thing that city folks don’t often realize about losing power is that you lose water too (I confess that being a former “city girl” this relationship was not obvious to me when we moved to our farm).  Most rural residences have wells, and wells have pumps that are powered by electricity—no electricity, no power to the well pump, no water. Unfortunately, our well pump is connected to the electrical panel at our house, while our main generator only powers our pole barn and our barns.  So, we have another smaller generator that we turn on manually to power up the house panel to get the water back on.  Water is critical for a dairy. We need it to run the milking system, we need it to flow through our automatic waterers in the barn and we need it for the self-feeder that provides milk replacer to the kids still on milk.  We also need it in the cheeserie to fill the jackets of the cheese vats and to wash everything.  The relationship between power and water is as important as the relationship between power and refrigeration.  Wes stayed up for the remainder of the night (now early morning) to turn on and off the house generator (it overheats if you leave it on continuously), while I tried to slow down the flow of adrenaline in my veins and get a little bit of sleep before it was time to get up and get ready for the farmers’ market. 


tree damage

Daylight seeped in, revealing the full extent of the tree limb damage.  We got ourselves to the Urbana Farmers’ Market, set up and Wes went back to begin storm cleanup.  The power finally came back on by 10AM on Saturday, and we were able to pull off another successful farm dinner that evening. 

The arborist finally came on Tuesday to excise the limb from the roof.  His technique was a kin to surgery.  Before he could get to the heart of the tree limb, he had to cut out the major side branches. 


tree limb surgery 1


Once they were removed, he was able to back the limb slowly off the roof.  Now comes firewood for winter and dried maple leaf snacks for the goat girls.


limb on the ground

Farmers’ Markets

This Saturday, June 8th, we’re attending two farmers’ markets: Urbana and Chicago’s Green City Market.  Our raw milk tome, Moonglo, is taking a brief early summer vacation, but we’ve got a great line up of cheeses to keep you satisfied:

  • Fresh Chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked black peppercorn
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: grass and citrus notes evoke pasture-fed goats
  • Ewe Bloom—delicious in all its sheepy-ness; perfect for a cheese burger if you dare
  • Black Goat—ash-ripened delicate goat milk round—great on a salad of fresh greens
  • Sheep Milk Feta
  • Goat Milk Ricotta-try using this cheese with a drizzle of honey and some fresh sliced strawberries

On the gelato front, we’re starting to add some summer flavors to our repertoire (flavors with an asterisk are those likely to appear at the Green City Market):

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Stracciatella
  • Pumpkin Pie*
  • Mint Ricotta*
  • Margot's Fresh Mint*
  • Lemon Balm-Thyme (a new flavor--come try it!!)*
  • Cajeta (goat milk caramel) Swirl*
  • Local Strawberry*
  • Pecan Biscotti

 Stay tuned for next week's details about farm open house and CSA pick ups.