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Posted 8/1/2013 4:28pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Farm News

Fruit Heaven: Tuesday early evening, I wandered out to the orchard to get a handle on the fruit situation for our u-pick. The air was still, the clouds low hanging with a light drizzle.  The scene of peach branches arching downward toward the ground, laden with ripening peaches, caught me a bit off guard.  Slowly it sank in that this was the most prolific crop of fruit we have ever seen on our farm.  Many of the branches of Red Havens and Reliance peaches are so thick with fruit you can barely see the leaves underneath them. I picked up a few windfalls (these are the fruit that have fallen to the ground that are “dead ripe”) and sank my teeth into one. The juice splattered all over my lips and dripped down my chin.  The intensity of flavor is nearly indescribable—floral, tart, sweet.  I was transported to peach nirvana. For me and for Wes, there is no better fruit than a dead ripe peach; the attainment of this fruit “holy grail” was one of the main reasons that we bought our little farm and decided to attempt organic fruit in the Midwest.  We are so happy we get to share this experience with our customers. Once you’ve eaten a dead ripe peach, you won’t be able to go back over to the grocery store dark side.


peaches breakin' down

Goats getting frisky: The unseasonably cool weather we’ve been having this week is sending mixed signals to our goats. The bucks have started spraying themselves with their goaty musk. They’re engaging in mock mating rituals (poor wethers) too.  They curl their lips to catch any scent of does in heat, and the does approach them at the fence in the pasture.  Thankfully, the fence is strong, stronger than their desire to get a head start on mating season.  I have no desire for December kids. 

As we leave July behind and enter into August, I often get lulled into a false sense of calm about the farm.  Everything’s in motion, we’re not starting any new “projects,” we’re in maintenance mode.  Perhaps I’ve become habituated to the routine, perhaps the long-term, low-level of sleep deprivation clouds my vision, but as look around the garden and at our growing and gorgeous goat kids, my usual anxieties are diminished.  I’ll take it for now.


beautiful doelings

Farmers’ Markets, On Farm Sale Updates, Etc.

We’re attending two farmers’ markets this Saturday: Urbana and Green City Market.  I’ll be in Madison Wisconsin attending the American Cheese Society conference, so Wes and Stewart will be manning the stand in Urbana. Andrew will be serving up tastes of cheese at Green City Market. We’ve got the full line up of aged cheeses this week along with the usual suspects:

  • Fresh Chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Sheep Milk Feta
  • Bloomy rind cheeses including Little Bloom on the Prairie, Angel Food, Ewe Bloom and maybe Black Sheep
  • Roxanne
  • Moonglo—the first spring batch is ready!
  • Huckleberry Blue
  • Eldon—our spicy sheep milk blue

The gelato flavors reflect summer (a selection of the local flavors will be sent to Chicago's Green City Market)

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Mint Stracciatella
  • Strawberry
  • Lemon Balm-Thyme
  • Thai Basil
  • Ginger Ricotta
  • Blackberry Cream
  • Peach Sorbetto
  • Nectarine Sorbetto
  • Cucumber Lime Mint Sorbetto

Come out to the farmers’ markets and stock up on these goodies. You’ve gotta buy something else besides tomatoes and sweet corn, right?

On Farm Sales will continue through the end of August—Wednesdays from 4 to 6PM.  We should have peaches and blackberries available for u-pick during those hours for at least another three weeks. Our pear and apple crops are looking abundant as well, so stay tuned for u-pick opportunities for those fruits as well. 

Reminder: The tickets for the last four farm dinners will go on sale at 5PM on Saturday August 3rd.  To view the descriptions of the fall dinners and then go to our Show Clix page to purchase them, go to the section of our website called "Dinners on the Farm, then click on "2013 Dinner Season." I highly recommend checking out how ShowClix works before August 5th at 5PM so you are familiar with how it all works.  

Posted 7/31/2013 1:57pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Farm News

Fruit Heaven: Tuesday early evening, I wandered out to the orchard to get a handle on the fruit situation for our u-pick. The air was still, the clouds low hanging with a light drizzle.  The scene of peach branches arching downward toward the ground, laden with ripening peaches, caught me a bit off guard.  Slowly it sank in that this was the most prolific crop of fruit we have ever seen on our farm.  Many of the branches of Red Havens and Reliance peaches are so thick with fruit you can barely see the leaves underneath them. I picked up a few windfalls (these are the fruit that have fallen to the ground that are “dead ripe”) and sank my teeth into one. The juice splattered all over my lips and dripped down my chin.  The intensity of flavor is nearly indescribable—floral, tart, sweet.  I was transported to peach nirvana. For me and for Wes, there is no better fruit than a dead ripe peach; the attainment of this fruit “holy grail” was one of the main reasons that we bought our little farm and decided to attempt organic fruit in the Midwest.  We are so happy we get to share this experience with our customers. Once you’ve eaten a dead ripe peach, you won’t be able to go back over to the grocery store dark side.


peaches breakin' down

Goats getting frisky: The unseasonably cool weather we’ve been having this week is sending mixed signals to our goats. The bucks have started spraying themselves with their goaty musk. They’re engaging in mock mating rituals (poor wethers) too.  They curl their lips to catch any scent of does in heat, and the does approach them at the fence in the pasture.  Thankfully, the fence is strong, stronger than their desire to get a head start on mating season.  I have no desire for December kids. 

As we leave July behind and enter into August, I often get lulled into a false sense of calm about the farm.  Everything’s in motion, we’re not starting any new “projects,” we’re in maintenance mode.  Perhaps I’ve become habituated to the routine, perhaps the long-term, low-level of sleep deprivation clouds my vision, but as look around the garden and at our growing and gorgeous goat kids, my usual anxieties are diminished.  I’ll take it for now.


beautiful doelings

Farmers’ Markets, On Farm Sale Updates, Etc.

We’re attending two farmers’ markets this Saturday: Urbana and Green City Market.  I’ll be in Madison Wisconsin attending the American Cheese Society conference, so Wes and Stewart will be manning the stand in Urbana. Andrew will be serving up tastes of cheese at Green City Market. We’ve got the full line up of aged cheeses this week along with the usual suspects:

  • Fresh Chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Sheep Milk Feta
  • Bloomy rind cheeses including Little Bloom on the Prairie, Angel Food, Ewe Bloom and maybe Black Sheep
  • Roxanne
  • Moonglo—the first spring batch is ready!
  • Huckleberry Blue
  • Eldon—our spicy sheep milk blue

The gelato flavors reflect summer:

  • Vanilla*
  • Chocolate*
  • Hazelnut
  • Mint Stracciatella
  • Strawberry*
  • Lemon Balm-Thyme
  • Thai Basil
  • Ginger Ricotta
  • Blackberry Cream*
  • Peach Sorbetto*
  • Nectarine Sorbetto*
  • Cucumber Lime Mint Sorbetto

Come out to the farmers’ markets and stock up on these goodies. You’ve gotta buy something else besides tomatoes and sweet corn, right?

On Farm Sales will continue through the end of August—Wednesdays from 4 to 6PM.  We should have peaches and blackberries available for u-pick during those hours for at least another three weeks. Our pear and apple crops are looking abundant as well, so stay tuned for u-pick opportunities for those fruits as well. 

Reminder: The tickets for the last four farm dinners will go on sale at 5PM on Saturday August 3rd.  To view the descriptions of the fall dinners and then go to our Show Clix page to purchase them, go to the section of our website called "Dinners on the Farm, then click on "2013 Dinner Season." I highly recommend checking out how ShowClix works before August 5th at 5PM so you are familiar with how it all works.  

Posted 7/30/2013 8:51pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.


It's time again for another fun-filled Wednesday afternoon at Prairie Fruits Farm. We'll be open tomorrow (July 31st) from 4 to 6PM.  The peach trees are loaded down and ready for picking. We've got blackberries as well. Please go to the north side of our farm (there will be signs at the end of our driveway) for u-pick. We provide the picking buckets and containers for your harvest. Blackberries are $3/ pint and $5/quart. Peaches are $1.50/pound.  

peach beauties

In addition to u-pick, we've got a full array of cheeses for you to taste and buy. Expect:

  • Fresh chevre
  • Several styles of bloomy rind cheeses
  • Feta
  • Moonglo
  • Roxanne
  • Huckleberry Blue
  • Eldon-sheep milk Blue

Stewart will be manning the gelato dipping cabinet with scoops (*) and pints:

  • Vanilla*
  • Chocolate*
  • Hazelnut
  • Mint Stracciatella
  • Strawberry*
  • Lemon Balm-Thyme
  • Thai Basil
  • Ginger Ricotta
  • Blackberry Cream*
  • Peach Sorbetto*
  • Nectarine Sorbetto*
  • Cucumber Lime Mint Sorbetto

Tomahnous Farm will have height-of-the summer veggies and probably some berries.  Lucky Duck Farm will be bringing their bright orange pastured chicken and duck eggs along with their natural Icelandic sheep yarn and a few ham steaks.  They're bringing along a friend too--Grazin' Acres Farm with their 100% grass-fed Angus beef: ground beef and maybe a few steaks and/or roasts as well.  Check them out at: http://www.grazinacres.com/

Stewart's Artisan Breads will have his usual assortment of bagels, old-world breads, cookies and granola.  Laurence Mate, the Knife Dude, will be here too. He has two more stints as our weekly knife sharpener (tomorrow and August 7th) before he takes a little vacation. So, if you've been holding off getting your knives sharpened, don't delay. 

Dinner Tickets

Seats for the last four farm dinners of the season will go on sale this coming Saturday afternoon, August 3rd at 5PM.  To view the descriptions of the fall dinners and then go to our Show Clix page to purchase them, go to the section of our website called "Dinners on the Farm, then click on "2013 Dinner Season." I highly recommend checking out how ShowClix works before August 5th at 5PM so you are familiar with how it all works.  As most of you know, we only have 40 seats per dinner and they go fast. 


Posted 7/25/2013 10:47pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Farm News

There are a few hardcore realities of dairy farming; number one: only a very few choice buck kids get to stay and become breeding males, and number two: if you’re a doe, you gotta pull your weight in the milk production arena.  This week, we had to make some hard decisions on both counts.  Wes took several of our buck kids to their “one bad day” one-way journey.  This is our first year raising the buck kids to this point.  I admit; it is hard for me. I tell myself that they have lived a short but privileged life here at Prairie Fruits Farm.  I know they will be treated humanely at the very end.  Nonetheless, it is still hard and humbling.

On the feminine side of the aisle, it’s more of bittersweet affair. We have been collecting data every month on each of our does’ milk production; how much total milk they produce, what percentage butterfat and protein their milk contains (these are the components of cheese so they are almost as important as the total milk volume produced) and how their milk production changes over their lactation (milking season).  The ideal doe is one who produces lots of high fat milk over most of her nine- to-ten month lactation.  I am happy to report that we do have a number of does who approach this ideal.  We also have a number of does each year who deviate substantially from this ideal. It is the dairy person’s job to constantly improve the milk production genetics of the herd, and to do that, you must be willing to part with the does who just aren’t pulling their weight on the milk line.  If I could waive my magic wand and turn all of our does into star milkers, my job would be so much easier. This year, I had to make some hard decisions about several does who are very near and dear to my heart and to the hearts of our staff.  Thankfully, I found a wonderful home for these girls—a goat dairy in southwest Michigan who is expanding their herd to meet their growing demand for cheese. 

We started the morning loading the does into the stock trailer. With alfalfa and grain enticements, along with a soft bed of straw, it wasn’t too difficult to coax them in.  The cool weather that had blown in over the weekend lightened our stress over them making the journey in good health.  As we pulled out of the driveway, the typical goat whines subsided and they settled in for the ride.  We made a couple of pit stops during the four hour journey to make sure they were ok, and to give them a water and “bathroom” break (I don’t think they pee while the vehicle is moving).  When we arrived at our destination in Bangor, Michigan, I could tell immediately that they were going to good new home. Their goat barn was immaculate, spacious and well ventilated. The rolling pastures dotted with their own goats evoked “heidy-esque” images.  We were clearly not in “Kansas” anymore.  We walked our girls into their new barn digs and gave them their second-cutting alfalfa hay (the MI hay was a far cry from our lush leafy alfalfa grown on prairie soils) to ease the transition.  A lovely tortoise shell barn cat with emerald green eyes peered unconcernedly at the goats from under the hay manger.  I stayed with them for a long while so they would begin to acclimate to their new surroundings.  One resident La Mancha-Saanen cross doe came into the barn to check out the new girls from the other side of the fence.  Our girls seemed unfazed, focused on their beautiful alfalfa.  We chatted with the owners for a while and then gave our final goat hugs and kisses good-bye. 

On the drive home, we couldn’t resist the temptation to stop at several roadside fruit stands and load up on blueberries, cherries, peaches and apricots. Michigan is a fruitophile’s version of utopia.   Leaving Michigan, the rest of the journey is hard core interstate travel-semi trucks so numerous, they pulverize highways in short order. As we transitioned from interstate 80 west to 57 south, we felt a violent and loud vibration in the truck. Was it a dreaded flat tire? We managed to pull off into a gas station to check the tires only to find all of them intact and fully inflated.  We got back onto the highway and picked up speed only to feel the intense vibration again.  It was now past 8PM, and with no open mechanic in sight, we resigned ourselves to take the back roads home travelling at less than 45 miles per hour.  The interstates have forced us away from the small towns that used to benefit from interstate travel.  The remnants of these small towns are still there, often hidden from view by the strip malls and walmart megastores.  The full moon rose to our east, its pale yellow grandeur reminding us that slowing down has its beauty.  We pulled into our driveway a little after 10:30 that evening. Blue, the dog, greeted us in the driveway.  Everyone else was sleeping.

Farmers’ Markets, Farm Dinner Seats, Fruit and other Happenings

We’re attending one farmers’ market this Saturday, July 27th: Urbana’s Market at the Square. The weather should be glorious, so you have no excuses.  We’ll be there from 7AM to 12 noon weighted down with the summer’s cheese and gelato.  We’ve got:

  • Fresh chevre—plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper (a note to you tomato chevre lovers: it won’t be long now)
  • Fresh goat milk ricotta—you’ve got to try our ricotta if you haven’t already. It is so sweet and goes perfectly with all those fresh berries that are in season now
  • Sheep milk feta-try crumbling this cheese on some summer tacos. It’s delish!
  • An array of bloomy rind cheeses likely to include Angel Food, Little Bloom on the Prairie, Ewe Bloom and Black Sheep.  These cheeses are great with salads too.
  • Roxanne—firm sheep milk cheese in all its buttery wonder
  • Huckleberry Blue-this blue cheese with sycamore leaves soaked in pear brandy will knock your socks off
  • 1st batch of the season “Eldon” our sheep milk blue cheese-it’s spicy but nice
  • 1st spring batch of Moonglo-our raw goat milk tomme.  Slightly tangy, but the nuttiness is unmistakable

Need some gelato? Try a pint of:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Strawberry
  • Mint Stracciatella (our fresh mint with flakes of chocolate ganache )
  • Lemon Balm Thyme
  • Thai Basil
  • Ginger Ricotta (super creamy and gingery)
  • Blackberry Crème
  • Cucumber Lime Mint Sorbetto

Farm Dinner Update: We have another farm dinner this Saturday (July 27th) and the theme is “A Greek Feast.” We have a few open seats due to last minute cancellations. You can check out the menu on our website and go to Showclix to purchase them.

Fruit Update: We had a record turnout for U-Pick blackberries this past Wednesday, but I believe we will have more available for picking during next Wednesday’s open house from 4 to 6PM. We are monitoring the ripeness of the peaches too, and I will let folks know if they will be available for picking this week before the open house.  They are looking gorgeous (a bit small, but mighty juicy and tasty). 

Farmer training: For those of you who haven’t heard the news, we will be partnering with The Land Connection, a local non-profit organization, to host the beginning farmer training program called “Central Illinois Farm Beginnings” this fall.  The Land Connection is also offering a couple of one-day workshops called “Is Entrepreneurial Farming for You?”  If you find yourself day dreaming about farming, you should check out these programs. Here’s a bit more detail from The Land Connection:

Wanna be a farmer?  Central Illinois Farm Beginnings will help you plan and launch an economically and environmentally sustainable farm business. And classes will be held at Prairie Fruits Farm!  Learn more, and apply online, at central.illinoisfarmbeginnings.org.

The Land Connection has been training new farmers for eight years through the full-year course, Central Illinois Farm Beginnings. Starting this September, this full-year course will be held on-site at Prairie Fruits Farm, taking advantage of the many hands-on learning opportunities there, in addition to the business planning seminars that are the core of Farm Beginnings.

 Is Entrepreneurial Farming for You?  Find out at The Land Connection’s Aug. 8 evening workshop at Common Ground.  Check it out:

http://www.thelandconnection.org/training-farmers/entrepreneurial-farming-for-you/

Posted 7/23/2013 9:58pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

This week's farm open house has some GREAT summer local foods in store for you.  Come out to the farm tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon for cheese, gelato, veggies, berries, eggs, meat, yarn and breads.  There are a lot of "first of the seasons" you won't want to miss.  

Cheese: We've got plenty of fresh and creamy chevre, an assortment of bloomy rind cheeses, sheep milk feta, Roxanne (our firm, buttery sheep milk cheese) and Blue two ways--Huckleberry Blue (goat milk blue) and the debut of our spring Eldon (sheep milk blue). Come out and try them both!

Gelato by the pint and by the scoop (flavors with an asterisk):

  • Vanilla*
  • Chocolate*
  • Hazelnut
  • Strawberry
  • Mint Stracciatella** that's fancy chocolate ganache chip in a mint gelato background (Whoa!)
  • Lemon Balm-Thyme
  • Blackberry Creme (with our very own blackberries)*
  • Thai Basil* YES, it's BACK
  • Ginger Ricotta (smooth and gingery)
  • Honey Lavender
  • Cucumber Lime Mint Sorbetto -this is the epitome of summer
Tomahnous Farm: summer veggies, plants, blueberries and raspberries

Lucky Duck Farm: chicken and duck eggs, grassfed ground beef, ham steaks, yarn from their Icelandic sheep wool and asian cucumbers

Stewart's Artisan Breads: rustic sourdough breads, bagels, cookies and granola

Laurence the Knife Dude: sharpening your dull knives while you shop. Laurence will be on vacation in the middle of August, so his last day of knife sharpening at our farm will be August 7th.  Don't delay if you want to have your knives sharpened. He does an EXCELLENT job.

Prairie Fruits Farm U-pick: At last, our fruit is beginning to ripen with abandon, and we have enough of our early blackberries to offer u-pick tomorrow during open house hours.  This variety, called Chester, has huge berries that are sweet and juicy. We are charging $3/pint and $5/quart for u-pick. We provide picking buckets and pint/quart containers.  You provide the fingers for picking.  Wes will be out in the berry patch which is on the north end of our farm. To get there, continue north on Lincoln past our driveway and our neighbor's brick house. Just past their house, turn into the field on the right where the grey hoop barn is located. Wes will be there to show you where to pick.  Once you're done picking, you can come back up to the farm and reward yourself with some gelato.  
 




Posted 7/22/2013 6:32pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Hello CSA members:

Once again, it is time for another allotment of delicious bread, cheese and gelato. Here is the schedule for pickups this week:

  • Peoria, Tuesday, July 23rd: Marcella Teplitz house from 5 to 6PM
  • Normal (1st Presbyterian Church): Tuesday, July 23rd, from 4:30 to 5:30PM
  • Bloomington (Unitarian Church): Tuesday, July 23rd from 6 to 7PM
  • Wednesday, July 24th: Springfield (Farmers' Market at Katic Bread farm stand): 8AM to 11AM
  • Wednesday, July 24th, Prairie Fruits Farm: 4 to 6PM
  • Friday, July 26th, Naperville Tennis Club: 3:30 to 5:30PM


If you are not able to pick up your shares, please have a friend or family member pick them up for you.  If that is the case, please let me know and send me their name, phone number and email address.  

Just a reminder for those of you who signed up for the CSA farm dinner and want to purchase an additional seat, please send me (Leslie) a check for $45 to reserve the extra seat. The date for the dinner is Sunday October 13th from 3 to 6PM.  

Thank you. I hope your summer is going well, and you're enjoying your shares of cheese, bread and gelato.


leslie & Carissa




Posted 7/18/2013 10:23pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Farm News

It’s county fair season.  Throughout central Illinois (and much of the Midwest), the folks who raise goats for show are busy clipping, trimming, bathing and generally gussying up their goats to compete in the show ring. Being a production dairy, we haven’t been drawn to the show ring ourselves, but we have sold many of our doe kids and a few milkers to other folks who do show.  In fact, one of the people who milks for us part time is a certified judge for the American Dairy Goat Association and has bought a few of our does and bucks over the past several years. She has taught me a lot about dairy goat conformation (how an animal is put together, and how to achieve the ever elusive “dairyness” of a doe) and has helped me improve the genetics of herd overall. While I have never been a big fan of “beauty contests,” I have to admit that I do swell with pride when does born on our farm do well in the show ring. 

Nikki

Nikki takes home "grand reserve champion" at the Fisher Fair



This past week, several of the does from our farm took home awards: “grand reserve champion,” ”first place in her class,” “second place in her class,” and the grandmother of them all “supreme grand champion” (that was one of our yearling does “Rose” who we sold to a lovely family in Indiana).  Supreme grand champion means the “best goat” in the whole show among all breeds, which happened to include over 450 goats!!! We knew she was beautiful, but we had NO idea how much.  I congratulate our does who have produced these award winners. Though they aren’t afforded the chance to compete directly, they can celebrate their offsprings' achievements in dairyness vicariously. 

Farmers’ Markets

We’re attending two markets this Saturday: Urbana and Chicago’s Green City Market.  It will be hot, so be sure to bring coolers and ice packs to ensure safe transit of your cheese and gelato.  We’ve got the usual summer lineup of cheese for you:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked black peppercorn
  • Fresh goat milk ricotta—I have been topping some fresh sautéed green beans (with garlic of course) with ricotta and truffle salt and man is this delicious!! Try it with broccoli too!
  • Sheep milk feta-the missing link for a perfect tomato salad
  • An array of bloomy rind cheeses likely to include Angel Food, Little Bloom on the Prairie, Ewe Bloom and Black Sheep—try putting any of these on the grill for a brief stint and then serving them warm with a tart jam
  • Roxanne—our firm sheep milk Pyrenees style cheese-it begs to be melted-grilled cheese or cheese burger anyone?
  • Huckleberry Blue-our raw goat milk blue cheese wheels are wrapped in pear brandy-soaked sycamore leaves—do you need any more enticement to try this cheese?

It is truly gelato eating weather, so here’s the lineup (* indicates flavors available at Green City Market: PLEASE NOTE: we have very limited quantities available for Green City this week so come early if you want gelato):

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Mint*
  • Strawberry*
  • Stracciatella
  • Lemon Balm Thyme*
  • Nectarine Sorbetto* (someone who tasted this on Wednesday said it tasted BETTER than a fresh nectarine)
  • Autumn Berry Sorbetto (tart and delicious)

Many of you have been calling about availability of fruit for U-Pick. I am happy to announce that we will likely have blackberries available for U-pick next Wednesday during our farm open house hours. Stay tuned for my update on Tuesday about details for u-pick.  The blackberries are huge, sweet and juicy!!!

Posted 7/17/2013 10:38am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.


It's here: the summer heat, the pavement that could fry an egg. Not the case at Prairie Fruits Farm. Come on out today from 4 to 6PM to cool off and enjoy a scoop or two of gelato.  Summer fruits are here and we've got the sorbettos to proove it:

  • Peach
  • Nectarine
  • We've also got some smooth & creamy gelato:
  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Strawberry
  • Hazelnut
  • Mint
  • Honey Lavender
  • Lemon Balm Thyme
  • Stracciatella

Need some cheese to take home to get you through the week? We've got that too (chevre, feta, some bloomy rind cheeses, some Roxanne).  We may even harvest some Rainbow chard and Kale from our vegetable garden for you to cook up and serve. 

How about farm fresh eggs (chicken and duck), grass fed ground beef and pastured pork? Lucky Duck Farm will be bringing those as well as their Icelandic sheep yarn.

How about summer veggies--green beans, herbs (basil anyone for tomato and basil salad), berries? Tomahnous Farm will be bringing a little bit of summer veggie goodness.

Stewart is back from vacation and so his breads, cookies and granola will be here too.

Of course, Laurence, the knife dude, will be setting up his wet stone so he can sharpen your dull knives while you shop and visit the farm.  

We've got plenty of shade for you to sit under, so come on out and get some relief from the heat. We hope to see you here!

Posted 7/11/2013 9:32pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Farm News

We actually left the farm last weekend. We took a trip, a plane ride to Boston to be exact, to celebrate my mother’s 80th birthday.  It’s been over four years since Wes and both, together, were able to leave the farm in the height of our season.  Our staff held it all together beautifully—no catastrophes (at least none that we were made aware of), good markets, no illness outbreaks.  With the glow of time away still clinging to our clean clothing, we arrived back home Monday evening just as the dusk was turning into darkness. It was a new moon, so the darkness came abruptly. As we approached our mailbox, I could barely make out some large dark creatures walking along the road.  Before I had time to discern whether they were wild or domesticated, I realized they were our pigs.  They were walking briskly (actually, they were trotting) down Lincoln Avenue, clearly with a mission on their minds.   We sprinted into action; Wes pulling the car off to the side of the road; me jumping out and attempting to herd them back towards the driveway.  My usual goat calls seemed ineffectual, so I just started walking and miraculously, they followed me.  We walked along the edge of the garden as I tried to maneuver them away from growing vegetables.  Their low pitched grunts suggested they were enjoying their evening stroll (probably chuckling in pig lingo at our folly). Wes ran to get some grain to entice them back into their pasture paddock (now looking like a bombed out mud mine field) and miraculously, they went in.  City clothes now covered in mud, it was clear that our trip off the farm was over.

In keeping with the theme of livestock on the run, we had another breakout yesterday. The vets came out yesterday to evaluate some of our goats who have been plagued with intestinal parasites.  As we walked out to the pasture to examine a few of the does, one of the vets asked if it was proper for the goats to be on the other side of the fence—the side where the orchard is located.  I looked in that direction, only to watch the does pull down the woven wire fence and hurl themselves over the compost pile toward the lush apple trees.  Like pirañas drawn to blood in the water, they pulled down branches to devour whole apples and apple tree leaves.  With the vets prodding and coaxing, we tried to pull them away from the trees and steer them back toward the barn.  Our cajoling had a strong element of futility. Really, it wasn’t until Ben, our sometimes herdsman and jack of all trades, came to the rescue and worked his goat whisperer magic voice on them to pry them away from the fruit trees and corner them back into the barn.  Blue, the supposed herding dog, watched from the other side of the fence as a few renegade does tried to make their way back toward the fruit trees.  My only explanation for this rash of escapes (and escapades) is the lack of gravitational pull from the waxing moon. 


goats in the orchard

Farmers’ Markets News

We’re attending just one farmers’ market this weekend: Urbana’s Market at the Square. The weather should be glorious, so if you’re in town, the market will be THE place to be on Saturday. We’ll be well stocked with cheese:

  • Fresh chevre—plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Fresh goat milk ricotta—perfect as a breakfast treat drizzled with honey and dotted with fresh berries
  • Sheep milk feta—man, this cheese is mighty tasty on a crisp cool salad--perfect with the arrival of tomatoes and cucumbers at the market
  • An array of bloomy rind cheeses likely to include Little Bloom on the Prairie, Angel Food (our brie), black goat and maybe an appearance of Ewe Bloom and Black Sheep
  • Roxanne—the Pyrennees style “brebis” has lovely notes of butter and grass
  • Huckleberry Blue—our raw goat milk blue wheels that have been lovingly wrapped in pear brandy soaked sycamore leaves—it’s beauty AND brawn (that is full flavor)
wheel of huckleberry blue

With Stewart, our gelatieri, on vacation, the repertoire of gelato this week is somewhat minimalistic. However, Wes will don the Carpigiani Gelato University cap tomorrow to spin some flavors for this weekend. You can expect:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Cajeta Swirl (that’s goat milk caramel gelato with a caramel swirl)
  • Lemon Balm-Thyme
  • Maple Yogurt
  • Pistachio
  • Honey Lavender
  • Margot’s Fresh Mint

Come on out to sample some of these creations and take a pint or two home. It’s perfect weather for gelato eating.  

Posted 7/10/2013 8:15am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Alas, it's Wednesday and I am just getting around to reminding you of our weekly farm open house and on farm sale. Yes, it's TODAY from 4 to 6PM this afternoon.  We will have everything for sale set up inside the barn in case of rain drops. Also, you can check out our new display of goat milk soaps and Prairie Fruits Farm T-shirts.  We've got a beautiful fire-engine red table that was rescued from the old Homer High School many many years ago.  

We've got cheese, gelato by the scoop and pint too.  Come see what our guest farmers have picked fresh out of their fields: Tomahnous Farm, Lucky Duck Farm and Hendrick House will have veggies, eggs, meats, herbs and beautiful salad greens. Stewart's Artisan Breads is on vacation this week, but Laurence the knife sharpening dude will be here to sharpen your knives while you visit the farm and shop. 

Of course, the goats are "hungry" for visitors as are the pigs and Blue the dog.  The garden is growing as if we've injected steroids in the irrigation water (no we haven't! we're organic), so you can stroll around and marvel at mother nature with timely rains.

U-pick fruit season is just around the corner. Stay tuned for details about dates, what's in season and how it all works.