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Remembering my mother, getting ready for breeding, market offerings, farm happenings

Posted 9/26/2019 9:31pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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For those of you wondering why last week's newsletter had no blog post, I lost my mother last week, 86 years young.  My mother, born and raised in Boston, Mass, was a city girl at heart and the quintessential Jewish mother. Although apprehensive about her daughter’s decision to leave a tenured faculty job to become a goat dairy farmer-cheese maker, she came to embrace everything about our farm.

In the early days, she would come out during kidding season and cook our meals and do our laundry, so we could focus on helping does give birth.  She’d even put on her “work clothes”, roll up her sleeves and grab a bottle or two to help feed the needy baby goats. In a pinch, she would don a hairnet, gloves and apron to help me pack chevre. She would take winter coats to the dry cleaner and make numerous trips to the stores, hunting for bargains to keep the farm well supplied.

When we decided to try our hand at farm dinners, she flew out to be one of our trial “guests.” She was not shy about giving her “constructive” criticism, solicited or not.  As our farm grew and the ensuing responsibilities of running a complex enterprise prevented us from traveling, she’d hop on a couple of planes in spring and summer to help in whatever ways she could.  In her later years, her visits became less frequent, and her stamina for farm chores waned. Yet, she loved to be a guest at a summer farm dinner. Much to my embarrassment, she would regale her dinner table companions with stories from my youth! She was our biggest fan and our emissary to urban cousins and family members who couldn’t fathom how one of their kin could wind up in the Midwest, let alone become a dairy farmer.  Her loss has left a giant hole in my heart, but my memories provide some consolation. 

Farm News

The cycle of life continues at the farm. We’re gearing up for breeding season. The mating plans are in place, and we started cleaning out the doe barn today.  The crisp autumn weather has prompted some of the does to come into heat. Confined to the pasture, several found the weak links in their fence to pay a visit to the bucks. Thankfully, the hot wire surrounding the buck pasture was intact, and there was no breach. We’ll finish the set up tomorrow, and soon enough, their wishes will come true.

Farm Store and Farmers’ Market Offerings

There's a chance of rain on Saturday, but don't let that slow you down for your weekly farmers' market shopping--just bring an umbrella. Here's our cheese line up for the market: 

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbes de Provence, cracked pepper-our chevre is so fresh and light; it’s the perfect foil for your salads, soups or stews
  • Limited Edition Seasonal Chevre Flavors
    • Tomato-Juliette tomatoes from our garden dried and chopped into our fresh chevre-this cheese captures the sweet heat of summer; enjoy on some hearty multi-grain toast--VERY LIMITED, PROBABLY THE LAST WEEK
    • Jalapeño crunch-Fresh, chopped peppers from Blue Moon Farm--they give just the right amount of heat to the chevre. Perfect cheese for stuffing sweet peppers!
  • 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.” LIMITED-last of the season.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie-a goat milk camembert-style bloomy. The current batch is perfectly ripe, with hints of buttered mushroom flavor. Slice over roasted summer veggies (squash, eggplant) or enjoy on a burger or with some local dry-cured salami-LIMITED AVAILABILITY THIS WEEK
  • Black Goat—our current batch is aging nicely, but it has that lovely dense fudgy texture along with a hint of yeastiness on the palate.  Try it with one of our newest jarred creations-house made pickles or spiced pear butter.
  • Fleur du Prairie: our bloomy rind triangles topped with dried herbs and edible flowers. Beautiful and delicious!

Jarred products: Megan, our newest farm preserver, has been very busy in the farm kitchen. She has been making and canning pickled veggies of many stripes (summer squash, cucumbers, gardinier, etc.) as well as jamming.

Her latest creation is spiced (warm spices like cinnamon, clove, nutmeg) pear butter. We will have these available for sale in our farm store as well as the farmers’ market.

Enjoy a pint of gelato (3 pint special —Buy 3, get $1/pint off): 

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Salted Caramel Swirl

Try a pint from our new line of Whey-Based Sorbettos we’re calling “So-Whey-Betto” The whey from our chevre makes is added to the mix, creating a creamery texture and enhancing the flavor of the local fruits. Not only are they delicious, they are good for you (the whey contains probiotic cultures and lots of healthful nutrients):

-Red Currant

-Black Currant


-Michigan Blueberry (one pint left)

Can’t make it to the market on Saturday morning? Check out our farm store’s “Back to School” Hours: Fridays, 4-7 pm and weekends, Saturday and Sunday, 1-4 pm.

Come out on a Friday after work. If you haven’t had a chance to watch the sun go down while you enjoy a glass of wine/beer and cheese board under our pavilion, you don’t know what you’re missing. Bring the kids too.

We offer a “build your own cheese board.”  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. Can’t decide what you want? Ask our staff for recommendations. 

Of course, you can visit with the goats (kids and adults alike), stroll through the orchard, and check out our herb and vegetable garden.  If you’re ambitious, you can walk along the path toward the creek. Come back inside the farm store to shop for other local farmers’ products (meats, eggs, flour, jams, pickles, salamis, syrups, honey, etc.) or take home some PFFC “merch” (tea towels, aprons, t-shirts, sweat shirts and….)

Other Happenings 

Dinners on the Farm Autumn is a beautiful season to experience one of our farm dinners.  

We still have seats for the dinners in October, November and December, especially our “I Love Pumpkins” dinner with The Great Pumpkin Patch (October 28th). The menu for the October 12th "All things fermented" dinner is now posted as well. Make your reservations now, before they sell out.

October 20th Italian fall “festa” with Pizza M

Italy in Autumn-the next best thing to being there is a Sunday afternoon at the farm with Pizza M making their famous hand-tossed pies (with all locally-sourced ingredients, including the flour dough), freshly spun nocciola (hazelnut) gelato and lemon sorbetto.

Did I get you at Pizza M or the hazelnut gelato? Either way, we’re selling tickets to this event to make sure we don’t run out of pizza!! Check out the details and grab your “passport” tickets. --visit with the goats --enjoy a hay ride around the farm --peruse our farm shop, and much more….

October 26th and 27th Prairie Fruits Farm’s Third Annual Cider Days

The evocative apple-so enigmatic of fall—crisp, sweet-scented. In the last weekend of October, we celebrate all things apple with a two day festival.  Saturday (1-4 pm), we’ll offer fresh cider to drink, cider-gelato floats and bags of fresh apples from Red Crib Acres. Sunday, 1-5 pm, we’ll offer cider pressing, lots of cider drinks, doughnuts from Lucky Pierre Bakers, hay rides and MORE... Check out the details, and mark your calendars. 

Fall Classes and Tastings

We will be offering our popular cheese tasting and cheese pairings classes (wine/beer/bubbly) in November and December.  We may even offer a cheese making class (held in our commercial creamery). Stay tuned for details and registration information. 

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.