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Posted 5/21/2015 10:37pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

Our donkey, Jemimah, came to us almost five years ago.  Her “job” as guardian had been cut short when her flock of sheep was sold.  Jemmy or “Rusty,” as our former farm hand Ben fondly called her, had come from the school of hard knocks.  She was already an old lady when she arrived on our farm (no one knew her age exactly, but we suspected she was close to 30 years old), but her defiant nature belied her age.  

I’ll never forget the day she arrived at the farm.  As we unloaded her from the stock trailer and moved her into the doe barn, a myriad of goat heads turned, in unison, in her direction, Nubian ears curled and pointing towards this very tall and fury equine.  Their curiosity reminded me of nosy and suspicious neighbors peering behind the curtains of their houses as the new family on the block moves in.  At first, a fence separated the donkey from her future herd, as she was suffering from a severe case of despondency after losing her sheep flock.  It took weeks to get her to lift her head high and bray when she wanted something.  She was leery of strangers, but gradually, she became more relaxed, letting us pet her muzzle and give her carrots. 

Once she was ready to move in with the goats, they played the dance of familiar strangers; simultaneously drawn to each other and terrified.  Over the years, she forged a strong bond with her herd of goats; at times their cacophonous nature annoyed her, at other times she would protect a doe in labor from the head butts of her fellow herd mates.  She showed her might as guardian when our dog, Blue first arrived at the farm, baring her teeth at the dog, then turning to bare them at the goats to shoe them away from the “predator.”

Jemimah had bad feet when she arrived on the farm, and despite frequent visits from our ferrier, her hooves finally foundered.  She has been stoic throughout her time as our goat guardian.  She has hidden her pain well. However, a visit from the vet yesterday confirmed that her age and her prior living conditions have finally caught up with her.  Tomorrow we will say our good-byes to her, our fuzzy equine with an attitude.  Wes came in from milking this evening, singing this old Gene Autrey song, his homage to our donkey:

There's a gold mine in the sky far away

We will find it, you and I some sweet day

There'll be clover just for you down the line

Where the skies are always blue, pal of mine

Take your time, ole mule I know you're growing lame

But you'll pasture in the stars, When we strike that claim

And we'll set up there and watch The world roll by

When we find that long lost gold mine In the sky,

far away, far away we will find that Long lost gold mine some sweet day

And we'll say hello to friends who said goodbye

When we find that long lost gold mine

In the sky, far away, far away in the sky.  

Jemimah the donkey

 

Farmers’ Markets

This Saturday, Memorial Day weekend, we will be attending both Urbana’s Market at the Square and Chicago’s Green City Market.  Cheese and gelato are the perfect foundations for a holiday pick nick or backyard soiree, so let us set you up for a great weekend of eating.  Our raw milk cheeses are on break as we wait for the early spring batches to ripen. However, we have LOTS of fresh and bloomy rind cheeses for you to enjoy:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Fresh, whole milk ricotta
  • Goat milk feta
  • Angel Food
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie
  • Black Goat

If you’re planning for pie, how about some gelato to top it off? 

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Salted caramel swirl
  • Toasted Coconut
  • Green Tea
  • Fresh Mint
  • Rhubarb sorbetto

We’ll also have a few single servings of vanilla, lemon chevre, rhubarb crème and fresh mint. In addition to cheese and gelato, we’ll have salted goat milk caramels, house-made crackers, goat milk soap and a few other items.  Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest farm happenings including Wednesday Farm Open House, Third-Friday Pop-ups and Dinners on the Farm. 


Copyright 2014 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2014. 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.

Posted 5/14/2015 7:31pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

The litmus test for farmers this time of year is the degree to which they understand the expression “growin’ like a weed.”  City folks invoke this expression when seeing other people’s kids; how fast they’ve grown since the last time they saw them.  Farmers’ understanding of weeds is more profound and humbling.  Weeds, by definition, are plants that thrive in places where we don’t want them to grow.  They have finely honed evolutionary strategies to emerge quickly when environmental conditions are optimal.  Warmth and rain trigger their slumbering seeds to jolt into action, germinate and rapidly colonize the bare soil around them.  Somehow, their genetic knowledge outpaces that of seeds planted intentionally. 

It’s not just about pace either. The upshot: utter frustration in trying to find the beet and onion seedlings in a sea of tiny grasses and broad-leafed seedlings designed to look like vegetable seedlings.  The plasticity of weed genes to make them grow so rapidly and mimic the “good guys” beguiles me the most.  When my fingers accidentally pluck a vegetable seedling in place of a weed, I am humbled and exasperated.

Farmers’ Markets

This Saturday, we’re returning to both the Urbana Market at the Square and Chicago’s Green City Market. There is a chance of rain on Saturday, but don’t be deterred; just bring an umbrella and you can shop with impunity.  We’ve got a beautiful line up of cheeses for you:

Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper

Fresh Ricotta—it’s back and it lasts! We’ve modified our recipe a bit so that the shelf life on this fresh cheese is similar to our chevre (under refrigeration of course): two weeks. It’s a great cheese for cooking. It’s also simply delicious with honey and fresh fruit.

Goat milk feta—ask us for a sample of this tangy and sharp feta. It tastes great and it crumbles perfectly.

Black goat—young but tasty; slight yeastiness on the rind and a firm paste. If you like it more pungent, just leave it in your frig for another week

Little Bloom on the Prairie—our camembert style goat round; also a bit young but perfect served with roasted asparagus or kale

Angel Food—our little crottin-like rounds go really well with pickled ramps and a slice of baguette

Moonglo—still cutting into our late December batches of this complex raw milk cheese. Just try it (Huckleberry Blue is on hiatus until our early spring batches are ready by the end of June). 

We have some great flavors of gelato for you as well (* indicates flavors going to Green City Market as well as Urbana):

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Fresh Mint*
  • Lemon Chevre*
  • Rhubarb Cream*
  • Salted Caramel Swirl*

We will also be bringing our salted goat-milk caramels to both markets and our “artisan” crackers to the Urbana market.  So, sing in the rain and make your way to the markets on Saturday. 

Farm Happenings

If you’re looking for a great way to spend your Friday evening, come out to the farm TOMORROW (FRIDAY, MAY 15TH) for the first “Third Friday Pop-Up” of the season.  From 5:30 to 7:30 pm, we’ll be serving up some southern-Midwestern fare and grooving to the mountain music of “The Young and the Fretless.”  NO RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. 

Tuesday, May 19th, we will be at the downtown Champaign Farmers’ Market (4-7 pm).  Next Wednesday, May 20th, our midweek farm “Open House” returns, 4-6 PM—lots of great farm and artisan food products for sale as well as gelato by the scoop.  Thursday, May 21st, from 7:00-8:30 pm, we’ll be hosting a workshop on healthy eating with an emphasis on local foods. The workshop will be led by Maria Ludeke, Founder and CEO “Creative Health” and Maureen Sullivan.  To get more information and to register, please email either Maria (maria.ludeke@gmail.com) or Maureen (msullivan9217@gmail.com). 

healthy habits workshops

Copyright 2014 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2014. 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.

Posted 5/11/2015 9:45pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Even though the official start of summer is about a month away, we're getting a jump-start on the summer this week.  Starting this Wednesday, May 13th (through the end of August), we will host a weekly farm "open house" from 4-6 pm.  You can visit the farm, stroll the grounds, blow kisses to the goats and enjoy an array of farm products from our farm and others.  We'll have:
  • Cheese: fresh chevre, bloomy rinds, feta, Moonglo
  • Gelato (by the scoop and pint BOTH)
  • House-made crackers
  • Goat milk caramels
  • Bread and baked goods by Stewart's Artisan Breads
  • Artisan sausages by Piedmonte Sausage Co. (he's introducing a new line of chicken sausages this week in addition to the pork sausages we've been carrying)
  • Pasture-raised eggs and poussin (young chickens similar in size to Cornish Hens) by Seven Sisters Farm
  • Organic veggies by Tomahnous Farm and Heirloominous Farm
  • Knife Sharpening by the now famous Laurence "The Knife Dude"

On Friday, May 15th, we'll host of our first "Third Friday Pop-Up" of the season.  From 5:30-7:30 pm, we'll be serving up southern foods with a Midwest twist.  Guests will be serenaded by "The Young and the Fretless." For the full mouth-watering menu and all the details, visit our website.  

cara's pear

We have more art work adorning our barn dining room walls now.  In addition to the luscious watercolors by Cara Cummings (see the pear above), we now have surreal nature photography by Lance Merry.  His work showcases the natural world in our midst; terrestrial orchids, fresh water fish and amphibians. You'll be amazed by the beautiful creatures right in our prairie back yard.  

salamanders

You can just enjoy these pieces, but they are also for sale.  We look forward to seeing you AT THE FARM this week.

 

 

 


Copyright 2014 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2014. 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.

Posted 5/7/2015 9:33pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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 Farm News

Warm days following cold; I have mixed emotions over the abruptness of the change.  There’s a subconscious relaxation of my shoulders as the temperature rises—I notice that they aren’t quite so close to my ears.  There’s a burning desire to get stuff in the ground—to plant seeds, to buy bedding plants, to pot up some flowers.  There’s excitement about the first farmers’ markets, seeing our old customers, meeting new ones, renewing the dialogue about milk flavors and cheese textures.  Our asparagus spears grew about 12 inches overnight, and our rhubarb is ready to pick. 

The flip side is the wall of project lists staring us in the face. We made the lists when there was still snow on the ground and our hours of nightly sleep were close to what is recommended.  Now, those “essential” projects that will make the farm run better must be wedged in between the daily chores of kid care, milking, cheese making, barn cleaning and orchard upkeep.  Throw on top of the daily routine a few mishaps—goats getting into orchards, trailer tires going flat, coolers losing their cool—and we’re thrust into survival mode.  We’ll re-examine our lists, re-set our priorities and let the warming sun energize us to work a few more hours each day. 

Farmers' Markets

We’re attending BOTH Urbana’s Market at the Square AND Chicago’s Green City Market.  It’s Mother’s Day weekend, and we have a full array of dairy products to indulge all the mothers in your life.  For cheese, we have:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence and cracked pepper
  • Angel Food—our little bloomy rind “crottin”
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: You can dress it up with some jam or honey and serve it with our house-made crackers
  • Black Goat: This batch of ash-dusted geo-rinded cheese is perfectly ripe and ready to eat this weekend
  • Goat Milk Feta: It’s perfect on a salad of market greens and strawberries (you can get them at the Urbana market if you get there early)
  • Moonglo—this cheese is now about five months old and the flavor is rich, meaty and complex.

If you’re making your mother a special pie or cake, why not top it off with some fresh goats’ milk gelato. Our flavors this week include (* indicates flavors available at Green City Market):

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Pistachio (yes, we decided to splurge and get some Bronte Sicily Pistachio Paste)
  • Fresh Mint*
  • Salted Caramel Swirl*
  • Espresso
  • Ginger
  • Green Tea

We will also be bringing our melt-in-your-mouth salted goat milk caramels, our house-made crackers and our goat milk soaps.  If you’re in need of suggestions for a special mother’s day gift basket, just ask us for assistance.  We’d be happy to put something special together for your mom.

Other Happenings Next Week: First CSA pick up, First Summer Open House

We’ll be starting our CSA season next Tuesday and Wednesday with pick ups in Bloomington-Normal (Tuesday) and at the farm (Wednesday). Wednesday, May 13th from 4-6 pm is the FIRST SUMMER OPEN HOUSE.  We’ll have gelato by the scoop, cheese and several other guest farmers and food artisans.  Stay tuned for details early next week. 

Don’t forget to check out our farm dinners and make a reservation. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or just wanting to enjoy a local foods extravaganza under the prairie skies, we still have seats open.  The first dinner of the season, “Rites of Spring” has 7 seats left.  We’ll be featuring spring Katadin lamb from Caveny Farm. Chef Alisa is fleshing out the menu now, and it will be scrumptious.  


 

 

Copyright 2014 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2014. 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.

Posted 5/1/2015 9:46am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

At last, we were able to move the oldest bucklings out to the north pasture this week.  Following a short ride in the back our pick-up truck, they were turned out into their new home.  With a little human encouragement, they went straight for the tall grass, learning quickly that a touch to the fence (electro-netting and hot wires) would lead to unpleasant sensations.  It’s a painful lesson (I really do feel their pain), but once they learn to respect the fence, contentment reigns.

The pasture is tall and lush, and I love watching them move as herd from a distance.  I can stand at the south end of the orchard and see a school of little goat heads swimming through a sea of green.  Their ruminant brains guide them to seek out the best forage, but they always come running when they hear the sound of the grain bucket filling.

Baby peaches are beginning to set on some of the trees.  It appears that the orchard survived the freezing temperatures of last week. Our apples are in full bloom now, and our new bee hives have been placed next to the prairie.  The bees seem excited about dandelions, but I have seen them in the orchard too.  We’re trying really hard not get too excited about the prospects of fruit, but in truth, we’re pretty excited.  The game is on to prevent insect pests from getting to the fruit before we do.

The rhythm of cheese making is shifting from waltz to merengue.  Our does are about to start peaking in milk production, and we’ve quickened our step in the make room.  We’re making cheese every day now; bloomy rind cheeses are populating the aging rooms and the dishes are filling our large cleaning vat.  The dance of little cheeses: flip, brine, flip, wrap, price, sell; the steps and the partners are familiar. 

Farmers’ Markets

Yes, it’s the start of the Farmers’ Market Season Saturday, May 2nd.  We’ll be attending two markets on Saturday: Urbana’s Market at the Square and Chicago’s Green City Market. Wes and Maureen (our wonderful gelatieri) will be serving you in Urbana. I will be coming up to Chicago and introducing our GCM patrons to our new market cheese monger, Mark Hartstein.  We’ve got a great repertoire of cheeses for you on opening day:

  • Plenty of fresh chevre—plain, herbs de Provence, cracked peppercorn
  • Fresh whole milk ricotta-it’s firm but creamy—perfect for cooking or just drizzle some honey on top, add some fresh fruit and granola and you have a breakfast made in heaven
  • Introducing our new goat milk feta—our sheep milk feta was a very hard act to follow. So, we’ve been working on a recipe for a goat milk version that could live up to its ovine cousin.  I’m happy to report that this goat milk feta is NO wallflower. It’s got lots of tangy and slightly bitey flavor AND it’s nice and crumbly with a creamy mouthfeel—everything you crave in a feta cheese. Come try it. 
  • The bloomy rinds are back: Little Bloom on the Prairie (our camembert style) and Black Goat (ashed, geo-rinded cheese) will be making their appearances at the markets.  Both have beautiful but different rinds and will go perfectly with the spring vegetables you’ll be buying at the market, including shitake mushrooms and ramps if you’re lucky to find them.
  • Want raw milk cheese? We’ve got some beauties for you: late fall milk Moonglo and Huckleberry Blue—these batches were made last December and they are full of complex flavors.

You know you want gelato too.  So, Maureen has been busy crafting a rainbow of flavors (* indicate the flavors coming to Green City Market):

  • Vanilla 
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Espresso
  • Margot’s Fresh Mint * (mint from Tomahnous Farm)
  • Salted caramel swirl * 
  • Toasted coconut
  • Ginger
  • Green Tea
  • Carrot cake (made with Blue Moon Farm carrots)*
  • Honey chevre (Green City Market only)*

We’ll also be bringing our now famous goat milk caramels and our house made crackers (olive oil and multi-grain).  It should be a beautiful spring day for the first market, so come out and support your local farmers.

Other Farm Happenings—Lots going on, so read on

Road closure on North Lincoln-Detour in effect: It’s finally happened; construction for extending Olympian Drive eastward to North Lincoln has begun and the road is now closed just south of our driveway. That does NOT mean you can’t get to Prairie Fruits Farm! To the contrary, we have clear detour directions on our website.  The detour signs are in place and our logo (Chippy the Goat) with arrow signs are up along Ford Harris and Oaks/Willow Roads.

Other Markets, Open Houses, Farm Hours, etc.: In addition to the two Saturday markets, we’ll be attending the first downtown Champaign Farmers’ Market (run by The Land Connection) starting Tuesday, May 5th (4-7pm). We will attend every two weeks.  On alternate Tuesdays, we’ll be delivering CSA shares to folks in the Bloomington-Normal area. 

Our Wednesday Farm Open House starts Wednesday, May 13th (4-6pm). We’ll have gelato by the scoop, cheese and plenty of other treats. Stay tuned for details.  Our farm will be open to the public on weekdays: Monday-Friday from 10 AM to 5 PM.  You can walk around the farm (on your own) and peruse our farm shop. 

Wine Tasting—May 6th A tour of France with Todd Fusco from ArtMart 4-7PM. We will be tasting over 30 wines from all the major regions, paired with French themed appetizers prepared by Chef Alisa DeMarco. We will also have cheese and gelato available for purchase. Special discounts for wines ordered that evening. So grab your chapeau and joie de' vivre and join us for vinous soiree! Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at art mart (217-244-7979) or by calling Sarah Hess at 217-840-4097.  We have no ticket limit, so bring your friends. If the weather is nice, we’ll be tasting outdoors on the patio!   


Copyright 2014 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2014. 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.

Posted 4/23/2015 9:30pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

Celebrating Earth Day with threats of frosts killing our fruit blossoms in late April; it’s an exercise in cognitive dissonance. Earth Day, established more than four decades ago, was a political construct to wake up the American public about our society’s need and responsibility to take care of our environment, to protect the earth that sustains us.  Like many of the “angels-of-our-better-nature” policies of that era, their legacy is largely hollow symbolism. 

cherry blossoms

The peaches and cherries are in full bloom, the blossom density so high it’s hard to see the sky amidst a sea of petals.   We fretted over how to save them: should we stay up all night spraying the trees with a fine mist of water or whey? Should we find a source of liquid seaweed to coat the blooms and prevent the cells from rupturing? Throughout the day, I was checking my “My Radar” app along with three other weather apps to see if the forecast had changed.  By dusk, we decided that the risk of temperatures dipping below 31 degrees was pretty minimal and we would do nothing.  This morning we awoke to a very light skiff of frost on the ground. The stock tank out by Lynn’s horses had a thin veneer of ice.  The blooms look vibrant still. We have one more night of worrying, although the temperature forecast is now above freezing throughout the night, but the winds have died down.  I pine for the taste of a chin-dripping peach picked from our orchard, I’ll make a special plea to higher powers. 

peach blossoms

We experienced another form of dissonance this week: the cries of disbelief from the first group of weaned kids.  When I stopped the milk flowing from our self-feeding system on Sunday, I was impressed with the degree of calm that pervaded this group of kids. They ate their hay and grain with a bit more gusto and sipped water from the stock tank.  They ran wind sprints between the barn and their jungle-gym play structure outside.  I deluded myself into thinking their transition away from milk would go easy.  On day two, the cacophony awaiting me as I approached the kid barn for morning chores was deafening.  The gusto of hay and grain eating had turned into a feeding frenzy, like sharks to blood.  Four days into the weaning process, they have settled into their new reality; the decibels of their cries have lowered, save for the occasional kid who just screams for the hell of it. 

Farm Happenings and Other Events

This Saturday, April 25th, is our last spring open house-farm breakfast of the season. How time has flown.  We have a delicious breakfast planned for you, so we hope you’ll make it out despite the Marathon traffic blockage and the forecast of possible rain showers.  Chef Alisa and crew are making one of my favorite breakfast dishes—corned beef & sweet potato hash (using Triple S Farms Corned Beef) and malted chocolate chip pancakes with bananas.  We’ll also be making some gooey cinnamon buns and goat milk hot chocolate to warm you up. 

Cheese-wise, we’ll be debuting our goat milk feta (it’s crumbly, tangy and oh so delicious) alongside our chevre, Little Bloom on the Prairie (camembert-style), Moonglo and Huckleberry Blue.  We have a great selection of goat milk gelatos this week too, including our first of the season “Margot’s Fresh Mint” made with chocolate mint from Tomahnous Farm’s greenhouse.  Don’t forget goat milk caramels and house-made crackers.  We will also be selling artisan sausages from Piedmonte Sausage.

Our farmer friends will be here as well including Tomahnous Farm with FIRST OF THE SEASON ASPARAGUS!!!, greens, herbs and potted plants AND Cow Creek Farm with wild-harvested ramps.  Stewart’s Artisan Breads will have an assortment of rustic breads, delicious bagels, cookies and granola. 

While you are enjoying your farm breakfast and farm-fresh goodies, I will be in Chicago sampling our cheeses at Pastoral’s ARTISAN PRODUCER FESTIVALChicagoans, come see me from 11 AM to 3PM at the French Market.  If you haven’t experienced this celebration of artisanal foods, you should brave the crowds and come on over.   


Copyright 2014 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2014. 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.

Posted 4/21/2015 3:26pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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The April fruit tree blossoms have reminded me that our CSA season begins in a few short weeks. The deadline to sign up for our CSA is May 1st.  If you live in or near Champaign-Urbana or Bloomington-Normal, the CSA is a great way to get our dairy products on a regular basis. CSA members are also eligible to sign up for an exclusive farm dinner at a fraction of the cost of our regular farm dinners.  So, if you've been thinking about signing up, NOW is your chance.  


Copyright 2014 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2014. 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.

Posted 4/16/2015 10:32pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

It’s been two years since we’ve seen a peach blossom on the farm.  We’ve been inspecting the orchard this past week, hoping to see evidence of flower buds surviving another harsh winter.  We’ve been guardedly optimistic.  By Wednesday of this week, we were rewarded with a sea of pale pink suspended eight to ten feet above the ground.  Several peach varieties are in bloom.  My joy is tempered by some anxiety; that we won’t have enough native pollinators to turn those blossoms into fruits. 

Our honey bee situation has been dire over the past few years. Despite providing them with a nectary oasis in a vast ocean of corn and soybeans, the new GMO corn genetics, coupled with toxic seed coatings and pesticide sprays have weaned our hives.  As a result, the bees can’t survive the winter.  Our beekeeper, Emil, has been distraught about this unfolding tragedy, and hasn’t even received new bee colonies to place at our farm.  Last year’s sightings of mason bees, bumblebees and other pollinating insects gives me some hope that we’ll be able to put the “fruit” back in Prairie Fruits Farm this summer. 

Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day

This Saturday, April 18th, the U.S. will celebrate its first “Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day.”  Raw milk (unpasteurized) cheeses are experiencing a renaissance in the US.  Raw milk cheeses preserve the native micro-flora of place and allow the eater to enjoy the nuanced flavors of season and forage.  We’ll be celebrating with generous samples of our two raw milk cheeses: Moonglo and Huckleberry Blue.  Come out to the farm on Saturday, the 18th from 9 AM to 12 noon to help us toast our native microbes!!

Saturday Farm Open House

The weather should be gorgeous this weekend, so bring the friends and family out to the farm.  In addition to our planned breakfast menu of “Egg, Black Beans, Chorizo, Salsa, and Pickled Jalepenos on a Pekara Bun” and “Buttermilk Pancakes with Maple Syrup”, we’ve got a couple of other treats for you: “Ricotta-bacon bagel bombs” and Ricotta cookies with Earl Grey Tea Glaze.  We’ll have plenty of cheese for you to try and buy. In addition to our chevre, Moonglo and Huckleberry Blue, we’ll be debuting the first-of-the-season “Little Bloom on the Prairie.” These mushroomy rounds are a bit young, but they taste delicious. We couldn’t resist offering them to you.  We have lots of delicious gelato flavors, including a new frozen goat milk yogurt—it’s lemony and very refreshing.

Tomahnous Farm will be here with spring greens, herbs, potted plants and maybe a few shitake mushrooms.  Stewart’s Artisan Breads will be here with rustic breads, bagels, cookies and granola.  Cow Creek Farm (Rita Glazik) might even be here with some early season ramps.  Of course, we’ll have plenty of goat milk hot chocolate and Columbia Street Roastery Coffee.  There are a few new kids for you to enjoy, including a couple of very tiny La Mancha twins born last Saturday—Liberty grandkids!

Plenty of Seats still available for Farm Dinners There are a number of “Dinners on the Farm” with plenty of seats still available. Check out the dinner descriptions and book your reservation.  It will be an experience to remember.   


Copyright 2014 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2014. 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.

Posted 4/9/2015 10:15pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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 Farm News

Violent spring storms raced across the state this week, dumping way too much water way too fast on our farm.  The lightning flashed so quickly, lighting up the sky like a giant strobe light in a 1980’s disco.  And then there were the winds, gusts so strong the driveway was carpeted with a layer of maple tree buds.  Our log house is so solidly built it’s hard to sense these strong winds.

Our barns are another story.  The kid barn creaks and moans, threatening to loosen its bolts.  The hay storage barn on the north side of our property had already lost its end walls from another wind storm a couple of years ago.  So, when we discovered that the west end of the barn had completely caved in last night, we weren’t totally surprised.  Nonetheless, assessing the damage was humbling; the power of wind bending steel and ripping fabric to shreds. Despite the damage, the storm clouds had a silver lining. We had planned to move the breeding bucks out to north barn this week, but we had been too busy cleaning up the mess the storms left in the kid and doe barns.  Thankfully, they are safe and sound snuggling with the still-pregnant does. 

barn damage

 

Boneyard Arts Festival Comes to Prairie Fruits Farm

We love art. We are thrilled to be a host site for this year’s Boneyard Arts Festival as we feature the work of local artist Cara Cummings.  She has painted some beautiful and lifelike watercolors of fruits, vegetables and flowers. You can come to the farm and view them tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday.  Our hours will be 10 AM to 5PM on Friday and 9 AM to 12 noon on Saturday (coincides with our farm open house).  She will also have a few of her striking wood pieces as well, including spoons, cheese knives and cheese boards.  Cara will be here from 3-5PM on Friday and 9-12 on Saturday, so come meet the artist during those times.  We’ll be sampling some cheese and crackers all day Friday and of course during our open house too.

caras art

 

Farm Open House T

his Saturday, April 11th, let’s put the stormy weather behind us and celebrate the orchard blooms.  We’ll be open from 9-12 and featuring Bacon, Egg, and Smoked Gouda on a Pekara Bun and Cornmeal Pancakes with Blackberry and Lemon for breakfast.  They’re probably be few other treats too, and plenty of goat milk hot chocolate and coffee.  Maureen, our gelatieri, has been busy crafting new gelato flavors for you to try:  green tea, carrot cake (featuring carrots from Blue Moon Farm) and toasted coconut are just a few.  We have lots of delicious cheese for you to sample and take home as well:

  • Fresh Chevre
  • Fresh Ricotta
  • Huckleberry Blue
  • Moonglo  

If you’re looking for inspiring ways to use our goat milk ricotta, here you go (all of these ingredients, except olive oil, salt and pepper) can be purchased at our farm open house this Saturday):

Sautéed Napini with ricotta on sourdough bread:  Napini is similar to Rapini except it is a type of flowering kale. Blue Moon Farm will have some on Saturday.  Just slice some of Stewart’s Artisan sourdough bread, spread a thick slice of ricotta on the bread and then top with sautéed napini—drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil. If you really want to be decadent, add a poached or easy-over egg on top of that Napini!!! YUM!!!

In addition to our cheeses and gelato, we will have crackers and goat milk caramels for sale too. Tomahnous Farm will be here with spring starts, herbs, spring greens and more. Stewart’s Artisan Breads will have an assortment of hearty breads, along with his delicious cookies and granola.  Blue Moon Farm will be here with salad mix, spring greens (kale, napini, chard), carrots, potatoes and maybe a few other items. Of course, the goats will be here, always happy to greet their adoring fans.  Come on out. 


Copyright 2014 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2014. 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.

Posted 4/3/2015 10:08am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

Spring: the season evokes awakening, restlessness, a desire to clean.  This week, at long last, the warmer temperatures ushered in such feelings.  We quickened our pace to prune the fruit trees and get them sprayed with dormant oil spray prior to bud break.  We mucked out the kid barn.  We took stock of all the garden supplies and threw out a bunch of stuff.  The catharsis of throwing out stuff is powerful.

We opened the doors to the kid barn to let them outside.  Their caution collided with their curiosity as they discovered new ground to explore.  There are always one or two kids with a bit more gumption—the “Christopher Columbus” kids I call them.  They are willing to follow us out to the pasture, but quickly run back to their buddies hanging back by the door to the barn.  Soon, gangs of kids are running back and forth from the barn door to the pasture, kicking their little back heals in the air.  It’s hard not to feel their joy. 

We’re in another mini-baby boom again.  Our first two yearlings kidded yesterday and this morning:  Honeysuckle had triplet bucklings and Thistle had twin doelings.  We’re back to coaxing new mothers on to the milk stand (grain is strong motivator), colostrum and bottles.  Somehow, these April kids seem to pick up bottle feeding more quickly than their March birth predecessors. Or maybe, it’s just that the newborn feeding ritual has become more routine for me. 

Farm Happenings

Tomorrow’s Farm Open House (Saturday, April 4th; 9 AM to 12 noon) should be a PERFECT way to celebrate spring.  We’ve got a bang-up lineup of breakfast foods, including a ham-egg-chevre- pumpkin tomato chutney on a Pekara Bun and blueberry pancakes.  Our cheese repertoire is growing too:

Fresh chevre

Fresh ricotta

Moonglo

Huckleberry Blue

I’ve posted a great and simple recipe for a crustless Spinach Ricotta Pie using our ricotta cheese.. It captures the essence of spring and would be a perfect brunch dish for this holiday weekend.  I also have some great artisan sausages from Piedmonte Sausage for you to try as well.  We also have some smooth and tangy goat milk yogurt for sale, along with several delicious flavors of gelato.

Tomahnous Farm and Stewart’s Artisan Breads will be here with spring treats as well.  

Next Friday, we’ll be hosting artwork by Cara Cummings as part of the Boneyard Arts Festival .  You can come out to view the work on Friday April 10th (10 AM to 5 pm) and Saturday April 11th.  Cara will be here from 3-5 pm on Friday and 9-12 on Saturday; details to come next week. 

It’s not too late to sign up for our Cheese, Bread and Gelato CSA.  We also have seats open for a number of our “Dinners on the Farm.” Check it out!! 




Copyright 2014 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2014. 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.