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Keeping goats cool, Independence Day dairy-style, market offerings and more

Posted 7/4/2019 10:06pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

The heat rolled in with the latest round of summer storms and the onset of july.  As dairy farmers, it’s a race to minimize heat stress and its effects on milk production. We go to heroic measures to keep the milk volume from plummeting; every ounce is needed to keep the cogs in the cheese production cycle in motion.

We herd the goats out to the prairie as soon as the morning milking is complete. We want them to stuff their faces (and rumens) with fresh browse before the heat kills their appetites.  We keep fresh cool water in front of them; they even let us spray them down with the hose when they’re really hot in the mid-afternoon. Their normal aversion to getting wet is subdued by their desire to get cool.

Color matters when you’re a dairy goat, so those with darker coats get the special “day at the spa” treatment.  Not only do they get to come into the air-conditioned milking parlor during “off” hours, they enjoy grain treats while we shave them down. After their “hair” is done, we treat them to a goat mani-pedi (aka hoof trim)-no they don’t get to pick out their favorite polish color. The dairy crew gets some reprieve from the heat as well-AC in the parlor, sweeping up the piles of goat hair. 

The fourth of July is a normal day in the life of a dairy farmer-farmstead cheese maker. The goats don’t take holidays off for milking and their milk must be transformed into cheese daily.  Despite the normalcy of the routine, there’s peacefulness about the day. We don’t have to rush off to holiday barbeque or fight the crowds to get the best viewing of fireworks. At the end of the day, we can sit on our porch and watch the sequence of several towns’ fireworks light up the skies from south to east to west. 

Farm Store and Farmers’ Market Offerings

We’re getting a little break in the heat, but there’s a chance of showers this weekend.  Come early to the market and bring a cooler to keep your cheese and gelato in tip top condition. If you’re still entertaining holiday guests, or if you just want to throw yourself a little cheese party, we’ve got you covered:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Goat Milk Feta in Whey Brine: our goat milk feta is firm and tangy. Bathed in a whey-salt brine for at least one month, the texture is what I call “creamy-crumbly.” It is still a bit young but has a nice balanced “feta” flavor. Check out this simple “Roasted Feta with Honey” recipe from NY Times Cooking. It’s simple and it will definitely impress your friends.
  • Angel Food-our little crottin style bloomy, it’s compact, firm in the center with a slightly gooey edge. This batch is mature, with lots of mushroomy notes. Slice over a salad of fresh local greens or try grilling it to warm it up just a bit.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie-a goat milk camembert-style bloomy. This batch is young (firm, tangy, perfect for slicing), but has a wonderful flavor. Try with roasted fennel and a drizzle of honey
  • Black Goat: our funky ash-dusted bloomy rind with a crinkly white-mold rind. We have two batches to offer you this weekend—the beautifully gooey and ripe version and the young, yeasty and fudgy version. Enjoy both version with some local salami and a glass of summer red wine or local ale.
  • 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). You can also cook with it-salad dressings, cool summer sauces for grilled veggies; let your imagination run wild!

Grab a pint of gelato (3 pint special is still a thing—Buy 3, get $1/pint off): Here's the line-up:

  • Vanilla
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Fresh Strawberry (from Cary’s Garden of Eatin’)
  • Peaches & Cream (also from Cary’s Garden)
  • Fresh Mint (only a couple of pints left)

How about topping off some gelato with our house-made cajeta (goat’s milk caramel sauce)?  We have a few jars left—at the market and in the farm store. Grab one while they last.

Can’t make it to the market on Saturday morning? No worries: the farm is open Thursdays and Fridays, 4-8 pm and weekends, Saturday and Sunday, 1-4 pm. NOTE: We will be open on Friday, July 5th.

This Friday, consider building your own cheese board, or ask us to make some recommendations. You pick out the cheese(s) and accompaniments (jam, honey, pickled veggies or pecans), we provide you with a demi-baguette from Central Illinois Bake House. Complete the experience with a glass of wine or beer: Experience late afternoon and dusk on the farm. It’s magical.

Of course, you can visit with the goats (kids and adults alike), stroll through the orchard, and check out our herb and vegetable garden (growing like crazy and starting to bear fruit too).  If you’re ambitious, you can walk along the path toward the creek.

You can also enjoy a scoop of gelato 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 and “merch” in our farm store:  

-NEW maple syrup from “Sticky Peets”-southern OH maple syrup that oh so good!

-NEW pecans (plain and cinnamon sugar) from Voss Pecan Orchard, Carlyle, IL

-local honey from Two Million Blooms

-eggs (chicken and duck both), 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!

-Autumn Berry Jam-regular and jalapeno-we are restocked; these jams make excellent accompaniments to our cheeses

-Animal Welfare Approved Bandanas

-BACK by popular demand: Our “Three Chippys” tea towel. Chippy the goat is the farm’s logo, and she appears as chef, farmer and sommelier on this organic cotton flour sack tea towel AND our “Damn Kids” tea towel

NEW: Chippy the Chef Denim Aprons-soft, durable with three pockets for the most discerning chef in your family

NEW stock of PFFC T-shirts—new colors, styles—check them out! New children’s t-shirts with the “damn kids” image on the front—quite adorable

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

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

Other Farm Happenings    Tickets to one of our farm dinners are a hot commodity. Summer is the perfect time to experience one of our farm dinners. We have tickets for our upcoming New England Style BBQ dinner on July 20th. Check out all the themes and dates on our website and our ticket sales page (ShowClix), and make some reservations.

Behind the Scenes Tour & Tasting Michael Darin, our special events coordinator extraordinaire will be offering his "Behind the Scenes" tours next weekend: July 13th/14th at 2 and 3 pm each day.  For the tours, 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.   

Our next Goat Walk-Happy Hour is scheduled for July 25th. We’ll be posting details and ticket sales for the event next week, but for now, SAVE THE DATE! 

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.