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Hiding in pastures, return of the purple martins, farmers' market offerings, farm happenings

Posted 5/30/2019 8:49pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

There is a proverbial silver lining to the multitude of thunder clouds that continue to unleash their holdings over our landscape; the pastures have never been taller or so lush.  Like excited children wading out into the ocean beyond the shore, the goats meander through the grasses and we quickly lose sight of them. The greenery closes over them as they barely bend their slender necks to sample the tender growth. 

After a long day in the creamery, I decided to pay the bucks a visit in their summer pasture, just north of the orchard.  On my walk through the orchard, I inspected the peach trees again, hoping to spot a budding fruit or two—no such luck. The apples have a respectable fruit set, and there will be a few pears.  As I approached the buck pasture, I could only see Lentil, our La Mancha buck, along the fence line.  There was no sign of Nate or Rik, our two Nubian bucks. As I spoke gently to Lentil, Nate appeared out the tall grass to acknowledge my presence; no sign of Rik. I called his name a couple of times, and then suddenly his head popped up out the tall grass in the middle of the pasture. He looked at me implying “what, what do you want??” then quickly dove back in to enjoy whatever it was he was eating. Lentil and Nate wandered back into the sea of green to disappear again. Happiness is a goat engulfed by his food. 

Bucks in pasture

The return of the purple martins

When we bought our farm 16 years ago, it came with a double decker purple martin house next to our iconic windmill.  As we settled into our first spring on the farm, it was a joy to witness the return of the martins.  They would show up suddenly in late spring, kick out the free-loading English sparrows out of the nest boxes, and set up their own communal broods.  Their socialist, nesting commune, their fierce protective dispositions and their voracious appetites for mosquitos and flies endeared me to them immediately.  Like clockwork, they would return every year, except a few years ago, they did not come.  I had no clue what would have caused this change in their behavior:  different migration pattern, young not imprinting on their birth place; I was never sure. 

The English sparrows resumed their parasitic ways and continued to use the martin house as if they owned the place.  After a couple of seasons of disappointment, we decided to take the house down. We thought this might discourage the avian riffraff.  This spring, Wes cleaned out the house and put it back up, ever hopeful that the martins might spot it and decide to alight.  Sure enough, last Saturday evening (during our first farm dinner, no less), the martins returned.  First two, then several, landed on the top of the house, belting out their song of pleasure in finding a suitable home to lay their eggs. It gave me great joy to watch them pull out the nesting material from the English sparrows and have the sparrows acquiesce to the rightful owners of this house. 

Farmers’ Market Offerings Saturday, June 1st Market at the Square” 7 AM to 12 Noon.

The weather forecast is looking very hopeful for Saturday morning farmers'market shopping. This week, we have some lovely young little bloom and angel food to share with our patrons. Black Goat is on a little vacation until next weekend. Wes will be manning our farm stand, so come by and say hi to him.

We still have several quart containers of our goat milk yogurt-simple, plain yogurt with a slight tang. No thickeners added. If you want a thicker yogurt, you can always strain it through cheese cloth to get more of “greek style” consistency. Here’s the cheese lineup for this weekend:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Angel Food-our little crottin style bloomy, it’s compact, firm in the center with a slightly gooey edge. This batch is young, bright and firm. As it ages, the mushroom notes from the rind take hold. Slice over a salad of fresh local greens or lightly bread it and bake it for a fancy cheese plate.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie-a goat milk camembert-style bloomy, this batch is young but headed in a very good direction.
  • Moonglo-Enjoy a wedge of this complex, raw-milk beauty. Each wheel is washed with a cultured brine made with pear-leaf tea. It’s great with local charcuterie or try some shaved over a salad of greens and roasted asparagus.
  • Goat Milk Yogurt-our very own goat milk yogurt—just milk and live cultures—no thickeners or sweeteners added. It’s great mixed with fresh berries, nuts and a drizzle of local honey or maple syrup (it’s my breakfast staple every morning)

Grab a pint of gelato (3 pint special is still a thing—buy 3, get $1/pint off): Our repertoire is limited this weekend, but we'll be back with more flavors next week

  • Vanilla
  • Maple walnut (with Funk’s Grove maple syrup)

How about topping off some gelato with our house-made cajeta (goat’s milk caramel sauce)?  We made a special version with chocolate this time. We’ll be bringing some jars to sell at the market on Saturday, and they’ll be available in our farm store too.

Can’t make it to the market on Saturday morning? No worries: the farm is open this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, 1-4 pm.

During the month of May, the farm is open weekends, 1-4 pm each day. You can still visit with the goats (the babies are growing so fast), stroll through the orchard and just check for new signs of spring life on the farm. 

You can also enjoy a scoop of gelato OR cheese board with a glass of wine/beer or a black currant spritzer.  Need a little caffeine? We can make you a special espresso drink. We can even put a scoop of gelato for an “affogato. 

Check out the local products in our farm store:  

-eggs, meats and poultry from Bane Family Meats (Sidney)

-soaps from Red Barn Farm (including loofa soaps and liquid soap)

-Pancake mixes from Funks Grove Heritage Fruits & Grains-think pancakes with jam and chevre!

-Animal Welfare Approved Bandanas

-Charcuterie from Piemonte Sausage Co.  (pancetta, pork loin filleto and capocollo) as well as their frozen sausages (need to be cooked)

-locally milled flours from Janie’s Mill AND MORE!

Other Farm Happenings   

Tickets to one of our farm dinners are a hot commodity. Check out themes and dates on our website and our ticket sales page (ShowClix), and make some reservations. We have some great additions this year:

  • Our July 20th BBQ dinner now has a New England "Surf and Turf" bent to it
  • Jake Chappell, Chef of Vincent in Chicago will be doing a Sunday afternoon lamb dinner with Catalpa Grove Farm Lamb--this chef is up and coming and super talented.
  • Eric Damidot, Chef of NoMi Kitchen (Park Hyatt, Chicago) will be doing a France meets Midwest themed meal
  • Chef Raquel Ritz is tackling a five course meal focused around all things milk (a version of our traditional "100 Yard Dinner")
  • The Great Pumpkin Patch is back this year for our very popular Pumpkin & Squashes themed dinner
  • Vicia Restaurant, St. Louis (Chef Michael Gallina) will venture north for a Sunday afternoon local food feast
  • and we’ll end the season with a Whole Hog-Triptych brewery holiday feast.

Behind the Scenes Tour & Tasting

Michael Darin, our special events coordinator extraordinaire, will be offering his "Behind the Scenes" tours this weekend: June 1st/2nd at 2 and 3 pm each day.  Guests will gather under the Prairie Pavilion to start the tour. Michael will give a brief history about the farm and some background about the owners Wes Jarrell and Leslie Cooperband.  He will then guide guests around the farm and creamery where they will learn about raising goats, how the farm functions day-to-day, as well as how the creamery transforms our goat milk into delicious cheese and gelato. The tour will end with an interactive cheese tasting in the Real Stand Farm Store.   

Tours are conducted rain or shine, and last approximately 45-minutes. Please be prepared to walk around the farm; comfortable closed-toed shoes are advised. No reservations are required. Cost is $10 for adults, $6 for kids 12 and under. Glasses of wine or beer can be added to the tasting for a tour price of $6.   

Goat Walk Happy Hour

How about accompanying the goats out to pasture after their evening milking and then enjoying a glass of wine or beer or a special cocktail with some cheese? We will be hosting a very special happy hour like no other on Thursday, June 27th, 6-8 pm. Reservations are now live for this event (limited to 35 guests only), so grab your tickets before they’re gone. $15/person includes one drink. Additional drinks and cheesy snacks will be available for additional purchase. 

Copyright 2019. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2019. 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.