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When rains comes, Market Offerings, Farm Happenings

Posted 8/22/2019 9:39pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

 “Be careful what you wish for;” an overused refrain of weather obsessed farmers. When the incessant spring rains left our fields flooded in June, we wished for no more rain. The rains subsided in late June/early July and did not return.  When thunderstorms were predicted, we would watch the radar with hope and expectation, only to see the storms track north or south of us, time after time. At last, on Tuesday, a giant line of thunderstorms, stretching north to south along the state, appeared on the horizon, promising certain deluge (and even a tornado or two).

As the skies blackened to the west, the tornado warning sirens going off on everyone’s cellphones, we battened down the hatches. We closed up the goat barns, tested the farm generator to make sure we wouldn’t lose power, pulled inside anything that might blow and huddled in rooms with no windows.  The high winds arrived first, ushering in the pelleting rain. As the storm passed over us, we waited, holding our breaths, hoping the warnings of tornadoes were false.  After a while, the winds subsided and the rain persisted. It was clear that we had dodged the severest parts of the storm. 

Seeing only a few puddles in the driveway, my first impulse upon setting foot outside was to check the rain gauge—only ½ an inch-not enough to close the cracks in the soil, but enough to revive the dormant grass and quench the thirst of the garden plants.  While small in quantity, the impact of much-needed rain on the farm is profound.  The pasture will start to grow again, we might even be able to seed some fall forages.  The tomatoes are swelling (and cracking), and the orb spiders have set up a multitude of webs between the unruly vines.  Their abdomens are swollen with the booty of unsuspecting victims eager to lap up the vegetation’s raindrops. 

Farm Store and Farmers’ Market Offerings

The weather is looking perfect for you farmers’ market shoppers and for those looking for a weekend outing to the farm. In fact, it might be feeling a bit like early fall. We have a fantastic lineup of cheeses this week, including special chevre flavors and fleur du prairie: 

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Special summer herb chevre-we’ve got so many wonderful herbs in our herb garden this year that we’ve been drying a bunch and making blends to add to our chevre. 
  • Tomato chevre-It’s BAACK!! Yes, those lovely dried juliettes are making their way into the chevre this week. My favorite flavor.
  • 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.”
  • Angel Food-our little crottin style bloomy, it’s compact, firm in the center with a slightly gooey edge as it ages. This batch is tasting really good right now; fudgy texture to the paste, slight softening along the edges with a slight hint of mushroom to the rind. This is our final batch of Angel Food of the season, so grab a couple of rounds before they’re gone.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie-a goat milk camembert-style bloomy. This batch is aging nicely, with notes of buttered mushrooms. Slice over roasted summer veggies (squash, eggplant) or enjoy on a burger or with some local dry-cured salami.
  • Fleur du Prairie—same species of white mold as our “black goat” made in the shape of a square (and cut into triangles). Just as the mold starts to ‘bloom’ on the cheese, we sprinkle a thin layer of dried herbs and edible flowers on top. The cheese is both gorgeous and savory delicious.
  • Black Goat—our latest batch of ashed rind bloomy is young, but aging fast with hint of gooeyness and robust flavor. 

Enjoy a pint of gelato (3 pint special is still a thing—Buy 3, get $1/pint off): We have some new and exciting flavors for you this week, especially our NEW LINE OF WHEY BASED SORBETTOS:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Blackberry Cream (with our very own blackberries)
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Nectarine Sorbetto (Mileur Orchard)

Check out 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
-Michigan Blueberry
-Pear Frangelico (with our very own pears, of course)

Can’t make it to the market on Saturday morning? Check out our farm store’s “Back to School” Hours: Fridays, 4-8 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. 

Check out our new “house-made” pickled patty pan squash. They are take on “bread & butter” pickles. They’re delicious on their own, but make a great accompaniment to our cheeses!

pickled pattypan squash

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, salamis, syrups, etc.) or take home some PFFC “merch” (tea towels, aprons, t-shirts, sweat shirts and….)

Other Farm Happenings   

Behind the Scenes Tour & Tasting Michael Darin, our special events coordinator extraordinaire, will be offering his next "Behind the Scenes" tours this weekend August 24th and 25th at 2 and 3 pm each day.  Michael Darin, our event coordinator, will lead the tours. Guests gather under the Prairie Pavilion to start.

Michael gives a brief history about the farm and some background about the owners Wes Jarrell and Leslie Cooperband.  He then guides guests around the farm and creamery where they 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 ends with an interactive cheese tasting in the Real Stand Farm Store or under the Pavilion (if weather permits).  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.     

Dinners on the Farm Late summer and early fall are the perfect times to experience one of our farm dinners. Check out this year’s take on our “100 Yard Dinner-Follow the Milk” on August 31st. The menu is now posted on our website. While you’re on the website, peruse the other themes and dates coming up this fall.  Make your reservations now, as these are filing up fast; several are already sold out.

Fall is gorgeous here on the farm Fall is just around the corner, and we’re planning some great events in October.  We will be doing a special “Fall Fest Pop Up with Pizza M” on October 20th and our “Cider Days” on October 27th. Details forthcoming, but for now, save the dates. 

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.