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Posted 6/9/2017 10:41am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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 Farm News

It’s been eerily quiet in the kid the barn since the departure of our lovely group of 48 doelings, now dairy girls in the state of Vermont. Erica, our herd manager, documented the trip with a photo diary. I thought you might enjoy it, so here you go:

Diary of a goat journey (by Erica Navis) with photos (photo gallery)

6/2/17 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, Champaign, IL

We loaded the travelers into the stock trailer in the late afternoon, enticing them with grain and fresh hay. As they cried about the sudden change of scenery, from lush pasture to four metal walls, they were confused but curious. Little did they know, by this time tomorrow, there will be a lot of change coming their way. You could tell some were more ready than others. The outgoing ones were already nibbling on hay, while a few of the more timid ones surrendered themselves to a corner, hoping this would protect them against the world.

Before we hit the road later that night, I took a moment to sit in there with them and give them a pep talk. We were going to get through this together, and they were going to be just fine. After a few mechanical trials and tribulations, we were off.

6/3/17 Eastern Indiana

The staff at the front desk at the hotel smiled as I asked to fill my buckets up with water. It wasn't a request they get too often. They escorted me to the laundry room sinks that I came to know very well because of the many refills I had to make. When we tucked them in the night before, they were a little groggy from the drive and slept rather sound. I quietly crept up on the trailer in the morning to see what they were up to before I stirred them up for feeding time. They were content but I'm sure they woke up in panic mode thinking "where am I?!"  The moment one saw me, they all in unison started their morning bellowing.

Attracting a lot of looks and probably waking the neighbors, I quickly got their hay feeders and grain troughs filled to their hearts content and opened up the doors to give them some fresh morning air.  After a quick breakfast, we were on the road again. It wasn't long before we hit the Ohio border. Cannellini Jr. (aka Cannellini’s daughter) insisted on getting a picture at the welcome center. 

We stopped for lunch at a rest stop right before Cleveland, OH. This was the first time our load felt small parking between two semis in the truck area. We opened up the trailer so the little girls could get some fresh air, and they enjoyed watching the trucks drive by on the interstate. There were a couple of curious folks who came over and visited with them. We gave them a nice long break before we hit the road again.  

6/4/17 Upstate NY-Randolph Vermont

It was bitter sweet waking up at the crack of dawn to feed these guys for the last time. There was a beautiful sunrise to start the day.  I had to carry buckets of water down from our 3rd floor hotel room for the little gals and then they pooped in it. Let's just say I got my exercise that morning. It would only be a few more hours before we would reach our destination. I’m imaging that this is what it feels like when you send your kids off to college, but in this case, they aren't coming back home. It is hard to see them go. I gave them extra cuddles knowing in just a few hours our trailer would be empty on our way back home. 

We had made it across the length of Pennsylvania then the long trek northward through New York. We definitely had left the flatlands of Illinois and Indiana behind, winding up and down the mountains sides as we finally entered their new state of Vermont. The travel rep at the welcome center was excited to meet the girls because June is National Dairy Month (only in Vermont or Wisconsin!!) 

Before we knew it, we had arrived at their new home sweet home. Ayers Brook Dairy is at a beautiful location hidden between the mountains. The whole family came out to meet the goats as we unloaded them into their new pen. They skipped off the trailer full blast and were beyond excited to be on land again. They were happy campers, and I was very relieved to officially make it there with all goats happy and healthy. This was the end of our journey as we packed up and headed back home. It was an enjoyable trip with the girls and I know they will have a great life at Ayers Brook Goat Dairy. 

Farmers’ Markets

This week, we’re attending just the Urbana Market at the Square. Our repertoire of cheeses is growing a even more with both raw-milk feta AND Magia Negra. Ricotta is on vacation this week, but will return next week.

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper—light, fluffy, lemony, YUM!
  • Raw-milk Feta: YES, it’s back. Our first spring batches are finally ready for prime time.  Packed in a whey brine for flavor and preservation, this cheese is perfect for summer salads, grilled veggies and home-made pizzas!
  • Angel Food: our little compact bloomy rind—firm paste; great with some homemade rhubarb jam
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: our goat milk camembert. Our favorite chefs love to put this cheese on the grill to give it a light smoke. OMG
  • Black Goat: our ash-coated bloomy with a hint of yeast on the rind; it is perfect on a baguette with a drizzle of local honey
  • Moonglo: these raw-milk tomme wedges are the last of the late fall-milk batches. Get ‘em while they last
  • Little Red: raw cow-milk, grating style with a smoked paprika rub. It is a perfect substitute for any grating cheese—use in a pesto, grate it over pasta or roasted veggies.  THIS IS THE LAST OF THIS ONE-TIME BATCH OF CHEESE, SO GRAB A PIECE NOW.
  • Magia Negra: our nod to a Manchego style cheese, sharp nutty notes with hints of tart berries. Rind is rubbed with an olive oil-black currant & aronia berry paste. 
  • Huckleberry Blue: the last of the raw-goat-milk blue made last December. This cheese is creamy, sweet & salty—the most flavorful blue in central IL. Give it a try.
  • Goat Milk Yogurt: plain, whole milk, available in pints or quarts. I eat this every morning for breakfast (my version of breakfast of farmer champions); only available at the markets and on the farm.

We will have crackers for you to accompany those cheeses-both oat chevre and herbed flatbread.

Bring on the heat, because we’ve got plenty of the frozen dairy to cool you down. Here’s the line- up of flavors by the pint:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Fresh Mint
  • Lemon Balm
  • Fruitti di Bosco & Yogurt (mixed berry: strawberry, black raspberry, blueberry)
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Mexican Coffee (coffee with cinnamon and kick of cayenne)
  • Local Strawberry (made with fresh strawberries from Meyer Produce)
  • Mint Stracciatella (fancy for “chocolate chip”; chocolate is from Ethereal Chocolate-an IL bean to bar chocolatier in Woodstock IL)
  • Blueberry-Meyer Lemon Sorbetto (made with blueberries from Pitcher-Patch Farm in Southern IL)

Farm Happenings

Farm Summer Hours: Summer hours are low key and a great way to see the farm transform as veggies, fruits and flowers start to grow.  We are open for you to purchase cheese, gelato (pints and single servings both), local farm products and PFFC “merch.”  From time to time, we’ll have special things to see and do (special gelato flavors or u-pick fruits for example).  For now, open hours are:

  • Wednesdays, 3-6 PM
  • Fridays, 11 AM to 6 PM
  • Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 PM 

Don't forget to follow directions to the farm from our website. This will ensure easy travels during the road construction on N. Lincoln Avenue.

Family Friendly Friday Happy Hour on the Farm

Friday, June 9th is our second Friday Happy Hour at the Farm (5-7 PM)-THAT’S TONIGHT.  Come out to enjoy a summer evening at the farm-bring yourself or your whole family. NO RESERVATIONS REQUIRED.

We’ll have local microbrews available as well as wines by the bottle or glass (all of our wines are either organic or biodynamic and our prices are VERY reasonable).  For the non-alcohol drinkers, we’ll have Homer Sodas available and iced mint tea. Grab some cheese, a wedge of Pekara Bakery baguette, charcuterie from Smoking Goose, a jar of Autumn Berry Jam and farm-made treats (pickled asparagus, ramps and mushrooms anyone?) and you’ve got some delicious local food snacks to accompany your beverages. 

Sarah will be making her highly addictive popcorn made with Serverson Farm organic popcorn, nutritional yeast and truffle salt. 

Farmer David Bane will be back with wood-fire roasted chicken from Bane Family Meats.

The Young and the Fretless (an old timey, Americana band) will spin some tunes too.  Guests can stroll around the farm, or just hang out on our lovely stone patio and watch the sun go down.  Of course, you can visit with the goats too.  The weather should be PERFECT!

CU Farmers ordering is open NOW (6/9 at 8:00 AM through Monday, 6/12, 10 PM) Blue Moon Farm, Bane Family Meats and Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery have teamed up to offer the CU Community an online farmers’ market.  If you can’t make it to the markets on Saturday, or you just don’t want to fight the crowds, consider CU Farmers.  It is simple, convenient and comprehensive (veggies, meats, eggs, cheese and gelato).  You won’t find a better deal on some of the highest quality local foods around. Here’s how it works:

1) Go to the website and set up an account

2) Order products from Friday (8AM) through the following Monday (10 PM). Select your pick up location (one in Champaign, one in Urbana) before you check out.  Pay online with a credit card.

3) Farmers fulfill your orders and bring them to two pick up locations on Wednesdays for you to pick up (5-6 PM for both locations)

4) Pick up locations are either Faith United Methodist Church in Champaign on Prospect Avenue OR the east parking lot of Lincoln Square Mall in front of Common Ground Food Co-op.   

Farm Dinner Updates Summer is the perfect time for lighter fare. We have some fantastic casual meals planned for July and August—burgers, fish fry, summer vegetarian, Cuban brunch—check them out and make your reservations now before they sell out too! 


Copyright 2017. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2017. 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 6/1/2017 6:55pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

These are the days we’ve been waiting for-intense sun, crisp air, light winds-days that dry soil to just the right consistency for planting.  Rey and Taidghin, the farm’s “gardeners” this year, have taken to tilling, mixing in compost, bed shaping, irrigation installing, weed barrier covering and now planting the vegetable garden beds this week.  From dawn to dusk, they have methodically transformed a weed patch into a garden that would be the envy of Martha Stewart.  Our herb garden and personal garden plot are looking quite forlorn in comparison; perhaps tomorrow will be the day I find time to get a few plants of my own in the ground. 

We planted cherry trees when we bought our farm, now over 13 years ago.  Cherry trees are heart breakers.  The trees grow strong and robust, each spring pushing out a pink mat of flowers and then a dark green canopy of leaves.  We waited, year after year, and watched patiently, with not a single fruit to reward our endurance.  Last year, they finally decided to turn those flowers into fruits, only to watch them fall to the ground in June, covered in brown rot. 

cherries

This past Monday, as I toiled in the creamery making yogurt, Wes spied some beautiful red globes on our Montmorency cherry tree. He grabbed a ladder, strapped a pail on his belt and went to work picking cherries (it’s hard to take the fruit picker out of Wes—it’s in his blood).  Not a blemish in sight (ok I did find one little worm when I was washing them), their iridescent red reminiscent of a ruby-throated hummingbird’s neck.  By the time I was finished with yogurt making, he had two pails full sitting on our kitchen table.  Their beauty inspired me to pull the cherry pitter out of the drawer, pit the whole lot of them and turn them into a cherry crisp; edible perfection.

Tomorrow, we bid farewell to 48 doelings.  Erica, our herd manager, will be transporting them east to Vermont to start a new life as milking does in a large commercial herd that provides milk to Vermont Creamery.  We’ll follow her journey with a bit of nervousness and a lot of pride.  Our little girls have been selected because of their great genetics and because of the care and attention we give them and their mothers.  Stay tuned for some stories about the journey in next week’s post. 

Farmers’ Markets This week, we’re attending both the Urbana Market at the Square and Chicago’s Green City Market.  Our repertoire of cheeses is growing a bit this week with the introduction of spring raw-milk feta (Urbana market only this week; sorry GCM folks).

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper—light, fluffy, lemony, YUM! (If you get the market early, you might score some of our special chevre with ramp pesto-we made these for our CSA members, but we have a few extra)
  • Fresh Ricotta: this delicate, mild and slightly sweet cheese is the essence of spring. 
  • Raw-milk Feta: YES, it’s back. Our first spring batches are finally ready for prime time.  Packed in a whey brine for flavor and preservation, this cheese is perfect for summer salads, grilled veggies and home-made pizzas!
  • Angel Food: our little compact bloomy rind—firm paste; great with some homemade rhubarb jam
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: our goat milk camembert. Our favorite chefs love to put this cheese on the grill to give it a light smoke. OMG
  • Black Goat: our ash-coated bloomy with a hint of yeast on the rind; it is perfect on a baguette with a drizzle of local honey. This current batch is young but quite tasty
  • Moonglo: these raw-milk tomme wedges are the last of the late fall-milk batches. Get ‘em while they last
  • Little Red: raw cow-milk, grating style with a smoked paprika rub. It is a perfect substitute for any grating cheese—use in a pesto, grate it over pasta or roasted veggies. 
  • Huckleberry Blue: the last of the raw-goat-milk blue made last December. This cheese is creamy, sweet & salty—the most flavorful blue in central IL. Give it a try.
  • Goat Milk Yogurt: plain, whole milk, available in pints or quarts. I eat this every morning for breakfast (my version of breakfast of farmer champions); only available at the markets and on the farm.

This is GELATO weather, so we’ve got you covered this week. Here’s the line- up of flavors by the pint (* are the Green City Market Flavors):

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Fresh Mint*
  • Lemon Balm*
  • Fruitti di Bosco & Yogurt (very limited this week, and at Urbana only)
  • Salted Caramel Swirl*
  • Rhubarb Swirl*
  • Mexican Coffee (coffee with cinnamon and kick of cayenne)-also very limited

Farm Happenings

Farm Summer Hours: Summer hours are low key and a great way to see the farm transform as veggies, fruits and flowers start to grow.  We are open for you to purchase cheese, gelato (pints and single servings both), local farm products and PFFC “merch.”  From time to time, we’ll have special things to see and do (special gelato flavors or u-pick fruits for example).  For now, open hours are:

  • Wednesdays, 3-6 PM
  • Fridays, 11 AM to 6 PM
  • Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 PM

Don't forget to follow directions to the farm from our website. This will ensure easy travels during the road construction on N. Lincoln Avenue.

Friday, June 9th is our second Friday Happy Hour at the Farm (5-7 PM).  Come out to enjoy a summer evening at the farm-bring yourself or your whole family. NO RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. We’ll have local microbrews available as well as wines by the bottle or glass (all of our wines are either organic or biodynamic and our prices are VERY reasonable).  For the non-alcohol drinkers, we’ll have Homer Sodas available and iced tea.

Grab some cheese, a wedge of Pekara Bakery baguette, charcuterie from Smoking Goose, a jar of Autumn Berry Jam and farm-made treats (pickled asparagus, ramps and mushrooms anyone?) and you’ve got some delicious local food snacks to accompany your beverages.  Sarah will be making her highly addictive popcorn made with Serverson Farm organic popcorn, nutritional yeast and truffle salt.  Farmer David Bane will be back with wood-fire roasted chicken from Bane Family Meats.

The Young and the Fretless (an old timey, Americana band) will spin some tunes too.  Guests can stroll around the farm, or just hang out on our lovely stone patio and watch the sun go down.  Of course, you can visit with the goats too. 

CU Farmers Resumes with two outdoor pick up locations weekly-ordering opens tomorrow (6/3 at 8:00 AM) Blue Moon Farm, Bane Family Meats and Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery are teaming up again to offer the CU Community an online farmers’ market.  If you can’t make it to the markets on Saturday, or you just don’t want to fight the crowds, consider CU Farmers.  It is simple, convenient and comprehensive (veggies, meats, eggs, cheese and gelato).  You won’t find a better deal on some of the highest quality local foods around. Here’s how it works:

1)  Go to the website and set up an account

2) Order products from Friday (8AM) through the following Monday (10 PM). Select your pick up location (one in Champaign, one in Urbana) before you check out.  Pay online with a credit card.

3) Farmers fulfill your orders and bring them to two pick up locations on Wednesdays for you to pick up (5-6 PM for both locations)

4) Pick up locations are either Faith United Methodist Church in Champaign on Prospect Avenue OR the east parking lot of Lincoln Square Mall in front of Common Ground Food Co-op.   

Farm Dinner Updates Summer is the perfect time for lighter fare. We have some fantastic casual meals planned for July and August—burgers, fish fry, summer vegetarian—check them out and make your reservations now before they sell out too!   


Copyright 2017. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2017. 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 5/25/2017 9:16pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

As I go about my daily routine of feeding baby goats, I reflect on the varying types of needs I must satiate.  The oldest kids clamor for grain.  I dash from grain feeder to feeder, deftly scooping and filling, rushing to fill the next one, lest they all crowd the one full feeder and get their heads stuck. Then, there’s the bleating of the newborns, milk bucket feeder empty and needing more milk; make it warm and make it snappy.  Once the older and bigger kids have had their fill at the bucket, I must coax the youngest onto the nipples, teaching them the trick of wrapping their muzzle over the wide part so they can squirt the milk into their mouths.  It’s satisfying to watch them catch on to the technique, crouch down and chow until their bellies swell like mosquitos on a blood binge.

The newly weaned group screams at full throttle, indignant that their offerings of food and drink (of which there are plenty-grain trough overflowing, hay manger brimming with fresh grass, water bucket clean and refreshing) do not contain the white stuff.  I offer them consoling pats on the head and handfuls of grain, but their lips grab for my fingers, hoping they are full of milk. 

The group that complains the least is the group on the self-feeder.  Since they can drink milk whenever they want, nibble on grain or hay whenever they feel like it and lounge when they’re full, they meet their own needs with very little human intervention. As long as the feeder’s hopper is full of milk replacer and the lines and nipples stay clean, they just want my attention for play and affection.  I prioritize meeting all these needs in order of who screams the loudest. Hugs and head pats come last.

Farmers’ Markets This Saturday, we’re attending just one market: Urbana’s Market at the Square (7-12).  Pick up some great cheese, yogurt and gelato for your long holiday weekend needs:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper—light, fluffy, lemony, YUM!
  • Fresh Ricotta: this delicate, mild and slightly sweet cheese is the essence of spring.
  • Angel Food: our little compact bloomy rind—firm paste; great with some homemade rhubarb jam
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: our goat milk camembert. Our favorite chefs love to put this cheese on the grill to give it a light smoke. OMG
  • Black Goat: our ash-coated bloomy with a hint of yeast on the rind; it is perfect on a baguette with a drizzle of local honey
  • Moonglo: these raw-milk tomme wedges are the last of the late fall-milk batches. Get ‘em while they last
  • Little Red: raw cow-milk, grating style with a smoked paprika rub. It is a perfect substitute for any grating cheese—use in a pesto, grate it over pasta or roasted veggies. 
  • Huckleberry Blue: the last of the raw-goat-milk blue made last December. This cheese is creamy, sweet & salty—the most flavorful blue in central IL.  
  • Goat Milk Yogurt: plain, whole milk, available in pints or quarts. I eat this every morning for breakfast (my version of breakfast of farmer champions).  Only available at the markets and on the farm.

Need some gelato? Here’s the line- up of flavors by the pint:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Fresh Mint
  • Lemon Balm
  • Fruitti di Bosco & Yogurt
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Rhubarb Swirl
  • Mexican Coffee (coffee with cinnamon and kick of cayenne)

Farm Happenings

Farm Summer Hours resume: Summer hours are low key and a great way to see the farm transform as veggies, fruits and flowers start to grow.  The goat kids are growing like weeds too, so come see them before they get too big.  Our last doe, Velvet, kidded last Saturday with twin bucklings, so come check them out in the newborn pen (the black & white twins).  Come meet our new La Mancha breeding buck, “Chocolate Cosmo.” He’s got a southern accent (he’s from Arkansas).  As always, we’ll be open for you to purchase cheese, gelato (pints and single servings both), local farm products and PFFC “merch.”  From time to time, we’ll have special things to see and do (special gelato flavors or u-pick fruits for example).  For now, open hours are:

  • Wednesdays, 3-6 PM
  • Fridays, 11 AM to 6 PM (except when we have Happy Hour; then we're open until 7 PM)
  • Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 PM

Don't forget to follow directions to the farm from our website. This will ensure easy travels during the road construction on N. Lincoln Avenue.

Family Friendly Friday Happy Hour on the Farm Friday, May 26th (YES, THAT’S TOMORROW) and running every other Friday through September 1st, we’re hosting a Friday Happy Hour (5-7 PM).  Come out to enjoy a summer evening at the farm-bring yourself or your whole family. NO RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. We’ll have local microbrews available as well as wines by the bottle or glass (all of our wines are either organic or biodynamic and our prices are VERY reasonable).  For the non-alcohol drinkers, we’ll have Homer Sodas available, iced tea and a special goat milk chai drink for the kids.

Grab some cheese, a wedge of Pekara Bakery baguette, charcuterie from Smoking Goose, a jar of Autumn Berry Jam and farm-made treats (pickled asparagus, ramps and mushrooms anyone?) and you’ve got some delicious local food snacks to accompany your beverages.  Guests can stroll around the farm, or just hang out on our lovely stone patio and watch the sun go down.  Of course, you can visit with the goats too. 

Tomorrow night, we’re featuring wood-fire roasted chicken from Bane Family Meats. Farmer Dave himself will be manning the grill, and serving up some of the best pastured-poultry you’ll ever eat.  The Jaybirds (a local jazz ensemble) will serenade you with some lovely jazz tunes.  

CU Farmers Resumes with two outdoor pick up locations weekly-ordering opens tomorrow (5/26 at 8:00 AM)

Blue Moon Farm, Bane Family Meats and Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery are teaming up again to offer the CU Community an online farmers’ market.  If you can’t make it to the markets on Saturday, or you just don’t want to fight the crowds, consider CU Farmers.  It is simple, convenient and comprehensive (veggies, meats, eggs, cheese and gelato).  You won’t find a better deal on some of the highest quality local foods around. Here’s how it works:

1)  Go to the website and set up an account

2)  Order products from Friday (8AM) through the following Monday (10 PM). Select your pick up location (one in Champaign, one in Urbana) before you check out.  Pay online with a credit card.

3) Farmers fulfill your orders and bring them to two pick up locations on Wednesdays for you to pick up (5-6 PM for both locations)

4) Pick up locations are either Faith United Methodist Church in Champaign on Prospect Avenue OR the east parking lot of Lincoln Square Mall in front of Common Ground Food Co-op.   

Farm Dinner Updates Dinner Tickets are selling at a brisk pace, and our June 10th “Big Steak dinner” is now sold out as well our “100 Yard Dinner” in September.  There are some fantastic casual meals planned for July and August—burgers, fish fry, summer vegetarian—check them out and make your reservations now before they sell out too! 


Copyright 2017. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2017. 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 5/19/2017 12:03pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

I’m imaging the Pleistocene.  I envision those glaciers slowly receding from our landscape, crushing and grinding rocks underfoot as they melted.  Geologists say that those finely-ground rocks turned to dust, and that the fierce winds blew this dust across most of what is now the Midwest.  Aeolian dust, the wind-blown foundation of our rich prairie soils, was on my mind this week.  The prairie is flat and windy; we all nod our heads when visitors from other realms ask “Is it always this windy here?”  Yes, after a while you acclimate to the wind; it’s just a constant in the background.  Yet, this week’s 40 mph gusts and gales seemed out of the ordinary.  The wind raged for days, not hours, and it suspended some of that ancient Aeolian dust into the air once more.  Last night’s thunder storms pulled those particles back to earth; we’re living in some turbulent times. 

Playing Possum

I have never fully appreciated the saying “playing possum” until yesterday.  During our morning kid feeding chores, our dog Blue has a routine.  He comes into the kid barn while I am ankle deep in kid grain or milk replacer and throws a tiny stick (it’s usually a piece of bark from the mulch) at my feet, demanding a game of throw and fetch.  His high-pitched bark reverberates inside the hoop barn, making it especially piercing on the eardrums and compelling me to comply. Believing I can multi-task, I throw him his little stick while I scoop grain into the feeders; he retrieves and places the stick right in the feeding trough, just so I won’t neglect him. 

While yesterday morning’s routine started out as usual, he abandoned our game rather abruptly, his attentions being drawn to something outside.  Normally, when I hear him barking outside, I assume a delivery truck has arrived.  Delivery truck barking is usually low pitched and constant.  I poked my head out the back end of the kid barn to find Blue barking at something underneath the flatbed trailer.  Oona, our other dog (and my little canine shadow during chore time), and I walked over to see what the fuss was about, as Blue dove under the trailer to flush a possum.  He grabbed and shook it violently, tossing it into the air. Oona, not to be outdone, rushed to grab the possum before it hit the ground and shook it in her mouth as well. I let out a primal scream, and she dropped it.

The possum lay on its side, mouth open, curled in a fetal position. It did not appear to be breathing.  I thought the dogs had killed it.  I could hear a faint hissing sound, and I thought it must be in death throws, so I ran to fetch Wes so he could put it out of its misery.  He was finishing milking chores, and by the time we got back to crime scene, I could see that the hissing was coming from two very tiny possum babies, wriggling in the grass in search of their mother.  She still appeared very much dead.  I called our vet student volunteer to see if she wanted to collect the babies and take them to the vet school.  I went up to the house to grab a box to transport them.  I returned again to the crime scene, box in hand, to witness the mother trundling off, babies nowhere in sight (obviously back in her little marsupial pouch). She sure had me fooled.

Farmers’ Market News

Tomorrow (Saturday, May 20th) we’re attending two farmers’ markets: Urbana’s Market at the Square (7-12) and Chicago’s Green City Market (7-1).  The forecast is calling for rain. Don’t let a few showers keep you away.  We have LOTS of great cheese and gelato for you. The markets will be teeming with fresh spring greens, and the promise of first-of-the-season strawberries should be enough to make you put on your raincoats and come on out.  Our cracker maker is on vacation for the next few weeks, so no crackers for a while. We recommend picking up a fresh baguette from your favorite market bakery to accompany our cheeses:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper—light, fluffy, lemony, YUM!
  • Fresh Ricotta: this delicate, mild and slightly sweet cheese is the essence of spring. Try it with a simple pasta of roasted asparagus and sautéed greens, lemon zest and salt and pepper. Want to go sweet? Drizzle a wedge of ricotta with honey or maple syrup and slice some fresh market strawberries on top. 
  • Angel Food: our little compact bloomy rind—firm paste; great with some homemade rhubarb jam
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: our goat milk camembert. Our favorite chefs love to put this cheese on the grill to give it a light smoke. OMG
  • Black Goat: our ash-coated bloomy with a hint of yeast on the rind; it is perfect on a baguette with a drizzle of local honey
  • Moonglo: these raw-milk tomme wedges are the last of the late fall-milk batches. Get ‘em while they last
  • Little Red: raw cow-milk, grating style with a smoked paprika rub. It is a perfect substitute for any grating cheese—use in a pesto, grate it over pasta or roasted veggies. 
  • Huckleberry Blue: the last of the raw-goat-milk blue made last December. This cheese is creamy, sweet & salty—the most flavorful blue in central IL. Give it a try.
  • Goat Milk Yogurt: plain, whole milk, available in pints or quarts. I eat this every morning for breakfast (my version of breakfast of farmer champions).  Give it a try and you’ll be hooked; only available at the markets and on the farm.

Need some gelato? Here’s the line- up of flavors by the pint (* indicates flavors going to Green City Market):

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Fresh Mint*
  • Lemon Balm*
  • Fruitti di Bosco & Yogurt (a mixed berry concoction with our yogurt-super tasty)*
  • Salted Caramel Swirl*
  • Rhubarb Swirl*
  • Mexican Coffee (coffee with cinnamon and kick of cayenne)  

Farm Happenings

Farm Summer Hours resume: Starting this week, we resume our farm summer hours. This year, we’re starting with a more limited schedule, but we hope to expand hours as our staffing situation improves.  Summer hours are low key and a great way to see the farm transform as veggies, fruits and flowers start to grow.  The goat kids are growing like weeds too, so come see them before they get too big.  We’ll be open for you to purchase cheese, gelato (pints and single servings both), local farm products and PFFC “merch.”  From time to time, we’ll have special things to see and do (special gelato flavors or u-pick fruits for example), so stay tuned for those details. For now, open hours are:

Wednesdays, 3-6 PM

Fridays, 11 AM to 6 PM

Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 PM

Family Friendly Friday Happy Hour on the Farm Starting Friday, May 26th and running every other Friday through September 1st, we’re hosting a Friday Happy Hour (5-7 PM).  Come out to enjoy a summer evening at the farm-bring yourself or your whole family. We’ll have local microbrews available as well as wines by the bottle or glass (all of our wines are either organic or biodynamic and our prices are VERY reasonable).  For the non-alcohol drinkers, we’ll have Homer Sodas available. Grab some cheese, charcuterie and other farm-made treats (pickled asparagus anyone?) and you’ve got some delicious local food snacks to accompany your beverages.  Guests can stroll around the farm, or just hang out on our lovely stone patio and watch the sun go down.  Of course, you can visit with the goats too.  We hope to feature different local breweries each time as well as special appearances from guest farmers and food artisans. We will also have live music from time to time.

CU Farmers Resumes with two outdoor pick up locations weekly Blue Moon Farm, Bane Family Meats and Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery are teaming up again to offer the CU Community an online farmers’ market.  If you can’t make it to the markets on Saturday, or you just don’t want to fight the crowds, consider CU Farmers.  It is simple, convenient and comprehensive (veggies, meats, eggs, cheese and gelato).  You won’t find a better deal on some of the highest quality local foods around. Here’s how it works:

1)  Go to the website and set up an account

2) Order products starting Friday (8AM) through the following Monday (10 PM). Select your pick up location (one in Champaign, one in Urbana) before you check out.  Pay online with a credit card.

3) Farmers fulfill your orders and bring them to two pick up locations on Wednesdays for you to pick up (5-6 PM for both locations)

4)  Pick up locations are either Faith United Methodist Church in Champaign on Prospect Avenue OR the east parking lot of Lincoln Square Mall in front of Common Ground Food Co-op.   

Farm Dinner Updates

Dinner Tickets are selling at a brisk pace, and our June 10th “Big Steak dinner” is now sold out as well our “100 Yard Dinner” in September.  There are some fantastic casual meals planned for July and August—burgers, fish fry, summer vegetarian—check them out and make your reservations now before they sell out too! 


Copyright 2017. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2017. 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 5/12/2017 9:36am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

The saying, “the only fence that can hold in a goat is a fence that can hold water,” is not far from the truth.  Goats have an uncanny ability to find the one weak spot in a fence and break through. I’ve watched our goats enter the pasture, a lush sea of chlorophyll-laden delicacies, only to make a beeline for the fence that separates the pasture from the orchard.  It is usually a ringleader (La Mancha or La Mancha cross) who discovers the slouch and proceeds to stand on the weak woven wire to pull it down. Within seconds, others catch on to her plan and follow suit. 

If you’re “lucky” to witness the break out, the sight of 70+ frenzied goats climbing over the compost windrow to reach their prized fruit tree leaves has the surreal look of soldiers coming over the hill in surprise attack of their enemy.  As we rush into the orchard to minimize the leaf massacre, they know their break out time is limited. They dash from tree to tree, scarfing up as many leaves as they can.  Our human “troops,” greatly outnumbered by goats, divide up: one person moves to the rear, one or two (depends on how many people are on the farm at the time and who we can recruit to help herd them back) others try to contain the herd into a tight-knit group from the sides, while the pied piper herder, grain bucket in hand, entices the frenzied goats back to the barn with a treat even more prized than fruit tree leaves—grain! Once the last goat is back in the barn, we secure the back gate and search for the break out location.  It’s time to escalate containment options-hot wire fences go up next week!

On the eve of Mother’s Day, one of the last three pregnant does of the season kidded this morning. Naomi gave us a lovely 8-pound doeling.  Mothering is so much a part of a dairy farm.  We benefit from the annual rituals of giving birth and becoming a mother all over again. Every year, I become the surrogate “mother” to over 150 baby goats (well, with lots of help). Every year, our goat mothers give us their delicious milk to turn into delicious cheese, gelato and yogurt. We celebrate and honor them frequently, but “Mother’s Day” reminds us to treat them special. 

Farmers’ Markets

Week 2 of Farmers’ Market Season: We will be attending ONLY the Urbana Market at the Square this Saturday, May 13th.  We will return to Green City Market on Saturday, May 20th.   As a reminder, our location at the Urbana market is different from previous years: We are now in northeast corner of aisle 2.  This location is just south of our old location in the north row. The market has a map and, if you have trouble finding us, please go to the market information tent, and they will point you in our direction.  We have a diverse lineup of cheeses for you this weekend. Perfect cheeses to serve the mothers in your life:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Angel Food: our little bloomy “crottin” style—this mild, slight tangy and firm paste-pair with a rhubarb jam or some pickled ramps
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: our camembert-style goat round; the gooeyness is definitely happening on this current batch
  • Black Goat: our ash-coated “geo” (crinkly white mold that tastes like yeasty bread) rinded wonder—this cheese has an intense flavor and a very fudgy texture. Try some with poached fresh berries
  • Fresh Ricotta: YES, spring means ricotta here on the farm.  Spoil your mother and grab a wedge of this delicate and sweet cheese to serve as part of your mother’s day brunch.  I like to eat it with a drizzle of local maple syrup and fresh fruit.
  • Moonglo: we are down to the last several wheels of our late fall batch of Moonglo. This high-solids, raw-milk cheese is LOADED with complex flavors-nutty, fruity, toasty.  You can only get this cheese at the farmers’ markets now, so come out and get a wedge!
  • Huckleberry Blue: our late-lactation raw-milk blue—it’s creamy, slightly sweet and salty and very approachable as a blue cheese.  You MUST try it, even if you’re shy about blue cheese
  • Little Red: a raw cow milk cheese made by one of our fall cheese making classes! This is a hard, grating style cheese with a mild, slightly tangy flavor. We just made a ramp pesto using this cheese, and boy is it DELICIOUS!! You should give it a try-use in place of romano or parmesan.
  • Goat Milk Yogurt: whole goat milk, live cultures—THAT’S IT FOLKS—NO STABILIZERS, NO THICKENERS.  We sell our yogurt in pints and quarts. It lasts a really long time too.

GELATO We’ve been working on a few new flavors this week as well as the standards:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Espresso
  • Local strawberry (frozen from Klug Farm)
  • Rhubarb swirl (made with our very own rhubarb)  
  • Salted caramel swirl
  • Spiced pecan (Voss Pecan Orchard in Carlyle IL)
  • Fruitti di bosco with yogurt: mixed local berries (blueberries, strawberries, black raspberries) with our own goat yogurt

In addition to our cheese, yogurt and gelato, we’ll  have local grains crackers (blue corn-chevre  and buckwheat flatbread; flours and grains from Severson Farm), green tomato jam and goat milk soap

Other Farm Happenings Our first Friday night “Happy Hour on the Farm” featuring local brews, organic/biodynamic wines, cheese, salumi and other bites will be Friday, May 26th. I know this is different from what I said last week, but right now, this is the plan.   5-7PM. More details to follow.

Our Farm “summer hours” will resume on Wednesday May 17th.  The opening  hours on Wednesday the 17th will be 3-6 PM. We’re still working out the details for the days of the week and weekend hours. We will let you all know as soon as things are set.  During farm summer hours, folks can walk around the farm (self-guided), visit with the goats, enjoy a scoop of gelato or a cheese “snack,”  and just commune with the natural world around us. 

Don’t forget to peruse our “Dinners on the Farm” series too. Our dinner season starts tomorrow (May 13th) and we’re excited for the season to begin.   


Copyright 2017. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2017. 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 5/4/2017 8:05pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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 Farm News

It has been a long time since we’ve seen rain fall from the skies like it has this past week. Although our southerly neighbors have taken the brunt of the intensity, we’ve received close to five inches in the past six days (about 1/8 the total average rainfall for our region). The incessant nature of the fall and the whiplash winds make forays from the house to the barns barely tolerable.  Even the dogs scurry from grass to barns, bodies hunched to dodge as many raindrops as possible.  Water is ponding around the house, rivulets run west to east through the aisle of the kid barn and the drone of the sump pump is continuous.  If we don’t get a reprieve soon, I am going to have to don my mask and snorkel to do the feeding chores. 

Kidding season is slowly coming to a close. Cecilia kidded with triplets yesterday and we’re down to the final four pregnant does.  We still muster enthusiasm at the sight of wet new born kids, but I admit that it’s just not the same level of delight as I had in early March.  Our weaned kids have accepted their life without milk, and it gives me to joy to see their heads buried in hay mangers, barely acknowledging me when I walk in the barn.  Once the waters subside from our pastures, they will graduate to a life of mostly grazing/browsing.  I see a little break in the clouds as the day comes to a close. I promise not to squint when the sun pushes through. 

Farmers’ Markets At last, the beginning of market season is upon us. We are attending two markets this year: Urbana’s Market at the Square (every Saturday, from 7-12) and Chicago’s Green City Market (every OTHER Saturday this year, starting this Saturday, May 6th).  For both markets, WE WILL BE IN NEW LOCATIONS THIS YEAR! 

In Urbana, our spot will be moved to the northeast corner of aisle 2.  This location is just south of our old location in the north row. The market has a map and, if you have trouble finding us, please go to the market information tent, and they will point you in our direction. 

In Chicago, we will be located at the west end of the paved path close to Clark Street. It is much easier spot to find us than last year’s location. Again, if you can’t find us, please ask the GCM market staff, and they will help you find us. 

We have a fantastic lineup of cheeses for you this weekend:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Angel Food: our little bloomy “crottin” style—this mild, slight tangy and firm paste-pair with a rhubarb jam or some pickled ramps
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: our camembert-style goat round; this batch is young, but if you let it ripen in your fridge for another few days, you’ll be rewarded with a little layer of goo just under the mushroomy rind. Try it warmed in the oven with caramelized onions
  • Black Goat: our ash-coated “geo” (crinkly white mold that tastes like yeasty bread) rinded wonder—this little guy loaded with flavor.  I really like it with a drizzle of local honey 
  • Moonglo: we are down to the last several wheels of our late fall batch of Moonglo. This high-solids, raw-milk cheese is LOADED with complex flavors-nutty, fruity, toasty.  You can only get this cheese at the farmers’ markets now, so come out and get a wedge!
  • Huckleberry Blue: our late-lactation raw-milk blue—it’s creamy, slightly sweet and salty and very approachable as a blue cheese.  You MUST try it, even if you’re shy about blue cheese
  • Little Red: a raw cow milk cheese made by one of our fall cheese making classes! This is a hard, grating style cheese with a mild, slightly tangy flavor. We just made a ramp pesto using this cheese, and boy is it DELICIOUS!! You should give it a try-use in place of romano or parmesan.
  • Goat Milk Yogurt: whole goat milk, live cultures—THAT’S IT FOLKS—NO STABILIZERS, NO THICKENERS.  We sell our yogurt in pints and quarts. It lasts a really long time too.

GELATO

Sarah, our gelato maker, has been spinning gelato like a whirling dervish. Here are the flavors this week (* indicates local flavors coming to Green City Market as well as Urbana’s market):

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Local strawberry * (frozen from Klug Farm)
  • Rhubarb swirl *
  • (made with our very own rhubarb)
  • Salted caramel swirl *
  • Spiced pecan * (Voss Pecan Orchard in Carlyle IL)

In addition to our cheese, yogurt and gelato, we’ll probably bring a few other items from the farm, including local grains crackers (oat-chevre and herbed flatbread; flours and grains from Severson Farm and Hazzard Free Farm), green tomato jam and goat milk soap

Other Farm Happenings

With the conclusion of “babies and breakfasts” last Saturday, Saturday mornings will be quiet once again on the farm. However, we’re gearing up for some fun summer activities at the farm.  Starting in early June, we’ll host a Friday night “Happy Hour on the Farm” featuring local brews, organic/biodynamic wines, cheese, salumi and other bites. The first one will be on Friday June 2nd (5-7 PM).  Stay tuned for details as the date approaches.

Our Farm “summer hours” will resume the third week of May to coincide with our first CSA pick up on the farm-Wednesday May 17th.  For sure, we’ll be open from 1-6 pm that day. We’re still working out the details for the days of the week and weekend hours. We will let you all know as soon as things are set.  During farm summer hours, folks can walk around the farm (self-guided), visit with the goats, enjoy a scoop of gelato or a cheese “snack,”  and just commune with the natural world around us. 

Don’t forget to peruse our “Dinners on the Farm” series too. With Chef Andres Padilla (Frontera-Topolobamba executive chef) and Rick Bayless’ chef team winning the “outstanding restaurant in the US” award at the James Beard Foundation event this week, you’ll probably see those tickets (October 28th) get scarfed up pretty quickly.  Our other chefs and meals promise to be “outstanding” as well, so check them out.   


Copyright 2017. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2017. 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 4/27/2017 9:58pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

Cheeserie time: I spend most of my evenings flipping cheese of one type or another.  “Gotta go flip cheese” is a common refrain I utter, usually after the evening kid feeding chores are winding up.  I imagine most of the folks who’ve never made cheese, have no idea what “flipping cheese” really means and how many different iterations of cheese flipping happen in our little creamery.  There’s an art to flipping the bloomy rind cheeses, each with its own nuance.  Some require lots of bending and lifting racks full of heavy curd-filled molds; others, in their conjoined block molds, make the chore lickity split.  The zen of the repetition and successful completion of each flip give the cheese maker a strange sense of satisfaction. 

Black Goat, made with very high-moisture curd, requires a single flip in the evening, once the pH has reached a certain point. It’s the flip I like the least, mostly because it takes so long and requires a lot of attention to detail. First, I must tuck the curd that has spilled over the sides of the molds during ladling back into each mold before flipping. Once flipped, I give the molds a little turn to release some of the whey that might build up and push the curd out from under the mold’s lip later on. There’s nothing more frustrating than finding curd oozed out of its mold the next morning. Then, I must restack each successive rack of flipped molds and cover them with a plastic sheet just so, ensuring that the whey drains off the plastic sheet and not onto the cheese-filled molds below. 

I play mind games with my cheese flips.  I race myself to see how fast I can clean up excess curd on each rack.  I remind myself to bend at the knees when I lift the heavy racks.  I cringe as I try to place the last rack on a very tall stack, hoping it won’t tilt or crush the rack below it. I rejoice when I’m bending over the bottom rack, because I know my task for the evening will be completed soon

Pickling ramps: I’ve been pinning for some canning time over the past couple of weeks. Ambitiously, I bought close to 10 pounds of ramps over the past two weeks, hoping for a break in my routine to do some pickling.  Given how little time there has been to do even the most routine home chores (laundry, making dinner), I am not sure where this ambition had come from. As I watched the green tops wilting in my refrigerator, I realized I better seize the day this afternoon.  Wes helped cut the ramps, while I prepared the vinegar brine and sterilized the jars.  After a quick blanch of the oniony bulbs, I fitted them snugly, bottoms down into the jars and poured the amber pickling liquid to just cover their tops. Into the boiling water the jars went. Ten minutes later, they were out, followed by the reasuring pop of lids sealing.  Ahh, the pride of preservation. 

Weaning kids and learning how to pasture:  Our first group of kids born in early March (seems like a lifetime ago now) was weaned this week.  It’s hard to believe that over 70 kids that hit the ground in a blur was now ready to fledge the milk “nest” and act like an adult ruminant—eating forage and pasture for most of their nourishment (with a little grain to keep them growing).  I’ve watched them discover the pasture over the past couple of weeks. Slowly one or two would venture past their play ground and realize that all that tall green stuff was just a luscious salad bar of fresh forage. Ocasionally, you’d hear a little yip and watch the group run back to the barn for safety, when they tested the hotwire fence.  The protestations from pulling their nipples were deafening this morning, but by this evening, their heads were buried in the hay manger. 

Babies and Breakfast-LAST ONE OF THE SEASON!

Come to the farm on Saturday, April 29th for the final “Babies and Breakfast” of the season (9-12). The forecast is calling for rain, but don’t let that stop you from visiting. We have plenty of seating in our barn dining room and the first group of weaned kids (they grow up so fast) is likely to serenade you. 

We’re pulling out all the stops for the final breakfast:  

  • Doughnuts [Cardamom Glaze; Cinnamon Sugar]
  • Cinnamon Rolls with Ginger Chevre Icing
  • Lamb, Potato, and Carrot  Savory Turnovers (our take on a Cornish pasty)
  • Biscuits with Homemade Jam and Butter
  • Breakfast Burritos (Meat) - Pork, Caramelized Onion, Rice, Egg, Chevre and a Beet Salsa on the side
  • Breakfast Burritos (Vegetarian) - Potatoes Spinach, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Egg, Chevre and a Corn Ramp Salsa on the side
  • Goat Yogurt Parfait with Local Grains Granola
  • Hard-boiled Chicken  or Duck Eggs 

Beverages: Hot and iced coffee, tea, hot chocolate, cold goats’ milk

Farmers: Bane Family Meats, Blue Moon Farm, Caveny Farm, Cow Creek Farm , Kilgus Farmstead, Severson Farm, Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery

We have so many great local foods for you to pick up from our farm stand, “The Real Stand” this week.  Our cheese repertoire is full again this week

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie—our goat milk camembert-style cheese
  • Angel Food-our little “crottin” style bloomy
  • Black Goat-our ash-ripened bloomy rind cheese
  • Moonglo
  • Huckleberry Blue
  • Little Red-our special, raw-milk (cow milk) cheese with a smoked paprika, olive oil rind
  • Goat Milk Yogurt in pints and quarts

We have pints and single servings of gelato too:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Local Strawberry
  • Spiced Pecan
  • Hazelnut
  • Espresso
  • Salted Caramel Swirl

In addition to selling our products, we’ll have two guest farmers again this weekend. Cow Creek Farm will be here with spring ramps (wild leeks harvested from their woods-$10/lb.) and Tomahnous Farm will be here with first of the season asparagus

Don’t forget our great selection of meats, eggs and sausages from Bane Family Meats, Caveny Farm, KD Ranch and Piemonte Sausage.  If you’re looking for unique gifts, check out our goat milk soaps, “Chippy the Goat” tea towels and our wide selection of PFFC t-shirts and hoodies.  Check out our new baseball style t-shirt too and our new colors of our regular PFFC t-shirts. We also have a “bargain bin” of select toddler and women’s style tees.  Everyone loves a bargain!  

PLEASE NOTE the detour on N. Lincoln Avenue . Best to follow directions on our website.

Reminders:

Last call for our CSA--The deadline for signing up for our 2017 Cheese and Gelato CSA season is end of Day, Sunday, April 30th. We have had a great response to our calls for new members. Thank you NEW MEMBERS.   We’d love to get a few more signed up before we close the membership for this year.    There are still plenty of tickets to our

Dinners on the Farm series. It’s not too early to book reservations for some of the dates later in the season.  We have such interesting themes and superb guest chefs this year. Check them out and book your reservations NOW.   

Farmers’ Market Season starts Saturday May 6th. We will be attending both Urbana’s Market at the Square and Chicago’s Green City Market on that day. Details coming next week.   

Stay tuned for information about summer farm hours and new activities at the farm.


Copyright 2017. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2017. 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 4/21/2017 6:45am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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 Farm News

On the eve of earth day, I’ve been thinking a lot about science, scientists and farmers.  I became a scientist before I became a farmer. I became a farmer because of my love for science.  As humans moved from hunting and gathering to cultivating, they employed the tools of science to develop their crops and select their livestock.  They experimented, they tested hypotheses, they observed, they asked so many questions and then tested out those ideas to see what stuck.  You could argue that farmers were the first practitioner scientists.

Wes and I started our farm, now over 13 years ago, because we had lots of ideas and we wanted to test them out. Every day, we are presented with new information, data if you will, and our questions evolve as we assimilate these data.  As I look at our herd of dairy goats, I realize that we have created a unique herd of Nubian and La Mancha crosses by selecting for the traits that matter most to us: delicious milk with lots of butterfat and protein, good disposition, nice wide behinds and longevity.  As I think about the evolution of our cheeses, and our attempts to make them better and better, science is at the core.  Cheese making would be a black box and a lot of futile exercise, unless we tried to understand how to assuage the milk and cheese microbes to do our bidding. 

Our farm is inexplicably tied to our land, our prairie-carved environs.  The sets of conditions we have been given—our soils, our very slight elevation in an otherwise very flat landscape, our erratic weather-they all shape the questions we asked when we got and those we continue to ask.  Farmers, no matter how much technology they employ or how big their tractors become, are tied to the land and the elements. We work in partnership with our earth.  She is integral to our successes and failures.  Earth Day reminds us to respect her. 

Babies and Breakfast

Come to the farm on Saturday, April 22nd for “Babies and Breakfast.” The weather will be slightly overcast and a bit windy, but it should be a great day to visit with the newest arrivals on the farm and enjoy our latest offerings from the kitchen. We have a menu that sings spring:  

  • Doughnuts [Cardamom Glaze; Cinnamon Sugar]
  • Mixed Berry Turnovers
  • Biscuits and Gravy with local pork and goat
  • Biscuits with Homemade Jam and Homemade Butter
  • Meat Breakfast Burritos: braised lamb with ramps, rice, egg, roasted bell peppers, ramp aioli and herbed chèvre
  • Vegetarian Breakfast Burritos:  roasted garlic potatoes, sautéed ramps, asparagus, and napini or kale, egg, herbed chèvre
  • Goat Milk Yogurt Parfait with homemade local grains granola
  • Hard-boiled chicken & duck eggs

Beverages include: hot coffee, tea, hot chocolate, iced coffee, affogato (coffee with a scoop of gelato), cold milk

(farms include Blue Moon Farm, Cow Creek Farm, Bane Family Meats, Caveny Farm, Severson Farm, Kilgus Farmstead and Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery)  

We have lots of great local foods for you to pick up from our farm stand, “The Real Stand” this week.  Our cheese repertoire is now flush with the full repertoire of our bloomy rind cheeses. Here’s the list of what we expect to have available:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie—our goat milk camembert-style cheese
  • Angel Food-our little “crottin” style bloomy
  • Black Goat-our ash-ripened bloomy rind cheese
  • Moonglo
  • Huckleberry Blue
  • Little Red-our special, raw-milk (cow milk) cheese with a smoked paprika, olive oil rind
  • Goat Milk Yogurt in pints and quarts

We have pints of gelato too:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Espresso
  • Salted Caramel Swirl

We'll be serving scoops of select flavors of gelato as well. We are hosting two guest farmers this Saturday. They’ll be set up just outside our barn dining room. Cow Creek Farm will be here with spring ramps (wild leeks harvested from their woods-$10/lb.) and Tomahnous Farm will be here with first of the season asparagus.  Don’t forget our great selection of meats, eggs and sausages from Bane Family Meats, Caveny Farm, KD Ranch and Piemonte Sausage

If you’re looking for unique gifts, check out our goat milk soaps, “Chippy the Goat” tea towels and our wide selection of PFFC t-shirts and hoodies.  Check out our new baseball style t-shirt too. 

PLEASE NOTE the detour on N. Lincoln Avenue and if you’re coming from town, the Illinois Marathon might have roads blocked temporarily to let the runners pass.  Here is the link to the Marathon map route just in case.  

Reminders:

The deadline for signing up for our 2017 Cheese and Gelato CSA season is fast approaching (April 30th). Please consider signing up this year.  We’re really close to meeting our goal of 50 members-can you help us get there?  

CU Farmers-If you placed an order please remember to pick up on Saturday between 8 am and 12 pm at the Market in the Square (inside Lincoln Square Mall). Remember, the Illinois Marathon is happening, so be mindful that certain streets might be blocked temporarily in Urbana and Champaign.    

Tickets to our Dinners on the Farm are going fast. Our first dinner with guest chef Paul Virant is already SOLD OUT!! We have such a great line of themes and guest chefs this year. Check them out and book your reservations NOW.  


Copyright 2017. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2017. 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 4/13/2017 11:03pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

This week, more signs of life emerged from nearby waters or took flight to the air.  The trilling toads hatched from the tadpoles in the pond (aka borrow pit) and began their nocturnal serenade. Their amorous desires are so strong; you can even hear a faint trill during the day.  The family of bald eagles that we came to know last year has returned.  We watched an adult and two juvenile eagles fly overhead yesterday afternoon, graceful but clearly on a mission for something.  Following their flight toward the bare trees along the creek, it was easy to spot the nests of the heron rookery.

The mason bees have been hovering around the barns too. Their arrival gives me relief that we have some pollinators around to pollinate the fruit trees now mostly in bloom.  I marvel that our landscape, so manipulated, can offer sanctuary to such diversity of ancient life.   

Our yearling does (born last spring) have started having their own babies these past couple of weeks.  I like to call them my ‘teenage moms’ because they are 14-15 months old when they freshen.  Most of them have singletons or twins, and their babies are often on the small end of the spectrum.  It is with these kids, especially, that I witness the super powers of colostrum, true “liquid gold.”  Just as superman attained his ability to “leap tall buildings in a single bound” from the earth’s yellow sun, yellow colostrum confers life-affirming immunity to newborns.  I have seen kids that were a little slow to stand, get right up after a few ounces of colostrum in their bellies.  Colostrum-the anti-kryptonite.   

Week Five of “Babies and Breakfast”

The weather forecast is calling for warm temperatures with a bit of wind.  It should be a beautiful day to come out to the farm and enjoy a breakfast made with hyper-local ingredients.    Here is this week's menu for Breakfast with the Babies

  • Doughnuts [Cardamom Vanilla Glaze; Cinnamon Sugar]
  • Cinnamon Rolls with PFF Chevre Ginger Frosting  
  • Biscuits and Gravy (Pork from Bane Family Meats & Goat from PFF)  
  • Biscuits with Homemade Jam & Homemade Butter  
  • Breakfast Burritos (Meat): Greek-style Chicken (Bane Family Meats) and Spinach (Blue Moon Farm), Rice, Egg (Bane Family Meats), and PFF Chevre  
  • Breakfast Burritos (Vegetarian): Roasted Potatoes w/ Green Garlic (Blue Moon Farms), Egg (Bane Family Meats), PFF Chevre, and Greek-style tomato sauce  
  • Parfaits: PFF Goat's Milk Yogurt with Local Grains Granola
  •  Hard-boiled Chicken and Duck Eggs  
  • Beverages include coffee, tea, goat milk hot chocolate and cold goat milk.  

Also, from 9:30-10:30, we’re hosting an Easter egg hunt in our front yard.  Here are some of the details: Children under 12 No admission fee Kids hunt for plastic eggs filled with candy  

Shop for all your holiday needs

We have so many great local foods for you to pick up from our farm stand, “The Real Stand” this week.  Our cheese repertoire is growing as we add the first bloomy rind cheese of the season, our “little bloom on the prairie.”  Here’s the list of what we expect to have available:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie—our goat milk camembert-style cheese
  • Moonglo
  • Huckleberry Blue
  • Little Red-our special, raw-milk (cow milk) cheese with a smoked paprika, olive oil rind
  • Goat Milk Yogurt in pints and quarts

We have fresh gelato too:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Espresso
  • Salted Caramel Swirl

We are hosting two guest farmers this Saturday. They’ll be set up just outside our barn dining room. Cow Creek Farm will be here with spring ramps (wild leeks harvested from their woods-$10/lb.) and Sticky Pete’s will be here from southeastern Ohio selling maple syrup and other maple products.  Don’t forget our great selection of meats, eggs and sausages from Bane Family Meats, Caveny Farm, KD Ranch and Piemonte Sausage

If you’re looking for unique gifts, check out our goat milk soaps, “Chippy the Goat” tea towels and our wide selection of PFFC t-shirts and hoodies.   

Reminders:

The deadline for signing up for our 2017 Cheese and Gelato CSA season is fast approaching. Please consider signing up this year.  We’d love to have you become a member of a very special “club.”  

CU Farmers-a multi-farmer, online “farmers’ market has two more spring pickups before the outdoor market season starts.  Starting Monday, April 17th at 9:00 AM, you can go online and order veggies (Blue Moon Farm), cheese, yogurt and gelato (Prairie Fruits Farm) and meat and eggs (Bane Family Meats).  Pick up will take place on Saturday, April 22nd at the Market in the Square (inside Lincoln Square Mall). 

Tickets to our Dinners on the Farm are going fast. Our first dinner with guest chef Paul Virant is already SOLD OUT!! We have such a great line of themes and guest chefs this year. Check them out and book your reservations NOW.   

 

Don't forget there's a detour on N. Lincoln Ave. Please follow the directions on our website. 

 


Copyright 2017. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2017. 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 4/7/2017 1:44pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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 Farm News

I’ve had the lyrics to the Bruce Springsteen song “Lost in the Flood” (from his first album-“Greetings from Asbury Park”-his best, in my humble opinion) stuck in my head all this week. His flood was allegorical and tragic.  Our flood was more literal-standing water following days of torrential rains- a mix of good and bad. We watched, helplessly, as the heavens opened up and dumped inches of the wet stuff on our farm over several days.  Normally, our growing green pasture is able to absorb this kind of moisture; but, as Wes led the does down to the prairie and old hay field, he and they encountered standing puddles of water between the bunch grasses.  The girls protested over getting their feet wet and muddy, but they were raptured by the lush green forage.  Despite his attempts to keep them eating, the post-storm winds were so fierce yesterday, that they got spooked by the phantom roar and made a bee-line back to the doe barn. 

Our plans to clean out the kid barn have been dashed for another week, and the straw bedding is creeping ever closer to the self-feeder nipples along the wall.  The older kids are getting so big that they now have to kneel to drink their milk.  

The orchard flower petals are still clinging to their branches, but I wonder how any pollinators could make their way through the sideways rain sheets to tap nectar and move pollen around. Sadly, our bee hives did not survive the winter (AGAIN!! Our beekeeper has told us he’s throwing in the towel), and we are hoping that all the native pollinators our farm harbors have been filling in the void left by the absent honey bees.   

I see so many ephemeral pools of water in our neighbors’ fields.  Transient migratory waterfowl take advantage of these pools to clean and preen. You can barely make them out against the brown, black and grey backdrop. The purple haze of henbit (an invasive annual cool-season weed in the mint family) provides a shock of color to the otherwise drab landscape of barren grain fields.  Our neighbor farmers now must wait for the soil to dry out before tillage and seed bed preparation can begin.   Meanwhile our little oasis of green just gets brighter and brighter, especially with the sun now reflecting off the wet blades of grass.   

Babies and Breakfast, Take Three

This Saturday, April 8th, from 9 AM to 12 Noon will be our Fourth “Babies & Breakfast.” The weather should glorious-sunny and warm.  Come visit with the goats (we have some newborns to show off and our older kids turned one month old this week!!), watch the babies run and jump and see the vibrant colors of spring on the farm. It’s a bit muddy in spots (from all the rain this past week), so wear your wellies.  Here’s the menu for this week:  

  • Doughnuts - Cardamom Glaze; Cinnamon Sugar
  • Cinnamon Rolls with a Ginger and PFF Chèvre Icing
  • Breakfast Burrito (Meat) - Bane Family Steak and Egg with PFF Chèvre
  • Breakfast Burrito (Vegetarian) - Mexican Potatoes (Blue Moon), Egg (Bane), Fajita Veggies, and PFF Chèvre
  • Southern-style Cornbread with Homemade Sausage Patty (PFF Goat and Bane Pork) and Homemade Green Tomato Relish
  • Southern-style Cornbread with Homemade Jam and Homemade Butter
  • PFF Goat Milk Yogurt Parfait and Local Grains Granola w/ Ginger and Cranberry
  • Pastured, Hard-boiled Chicken and Duck Eggs

Beverages:

  • Hot Tea
  • Hot Coffee (Columbia Street Roastery)
  • Iced Coffee (Columbia Street Roastery)
  • PFF Goat's Milk Hot Chocolate
  • Affogato—coffee with a scoop of gelato (vanilla only this week).   

We will also be selling cheese, yogurt, and gelato by the scoop as well as pints. Here are a few highlights:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence and cracked pepper
  • Moonglo-it makes the most perfect grilled cheese
  • Huckleberry Blue-if you’re a blue cheese lover (or not), you must try our raw goat milk blue
  • Little Red—a one-of-a-kind raw cow-milk cheese made by one of our cheese making classes last December. They did a fantastic job—this hard cheese is mild with a slight tartness and a hint of smokiness from the smoked paprika-olive oil rub on the rind. 
  • Plain, Whole Milk Yogurt-in pints and quarts

Pick up some house-made jams to go with those cheeses too: red currant-lavender and green tomato jam are the perfect accompaniments to our cheeses.

Fresh Gelato Flavors: vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut and salted caramel swirl—can’t really go wrong with these. We’ll be offering scoops of vanilla gelato too.

We also have lots of other great local foods: eggs (chicken and duck) from Bane Family Meats, beef, pork and chicken from Bane Family Meats, ground lamb and lamb shoulder steaks (ON SALE!!) from Caveny Farm, artisanal sausages from Piemonte Sausage Co, Elk Summer Sausages and beef sticks & jerky from KD Ranch

Want something to remember your experience at Prairie Fruits Farm? Check out our “merch:” t-shirts, hooded sweatshirts, onesies, tea towels, goat milk soaps.  We’ll have a NEW adult t-shirt style that we’re debuting this Saturday. Come check it out.

SPECIAL Guest farmers this week and coming next week (April 15th):

Cow Creek Farm, Paxton, IL, will be bringing bunches of ramps (wild leeks). They are wild-harvested from their woodlands. 

Delight Flower Farm will be selling spring flower bouquets.  

Sticky Pete’s Pure Maple Syrup - from the Appalachian foothills of southeastern Ohio-will be here NEXT Saturday, April 15th, selling their amazing maple syrup and other products made from maple syrup:  

  • Maple Syrup - various sizes to fit every need  
  • Maple Crusted Almonds  
  • Maple Crusted Pecan Nougats   
  • Maple Granulated Sugar  
  • Maple Leaf Candies (great Easter treats)  

DIRECTIONS TO THE FARM--DETOUR ON NORTH LINCOLN: The detour is now open on North Lincoln Ave. Follow the signs that take you to Oaks and Willow Roads to the east and then connect back up with Ford Harris Road (making a LEFT to go WEST) and then SOUTH on N. Lincoln Ave to our farm. If you’re coming from Urbana, just take Cunningham (HWY 45) north to Ford Harris Road (approximately 5 miles from the intersection with I-74) and go WEST (LEFT). If you’re coming from Champaign, take the NEWLY OPENED OLYMPIAN DRIVE, and head EAST to our farm.  Watch for the signs of where to park as it might be full at the farm driveway. We have an overflow lot in our north pasture that will be signed.

Cheese and Gelato CSA-time is running out to sign up for the 2017 season We still have a few openings for our 2017 Cheese and Gelato CSA and a discount on pricing if you sign up by the end of April.  Our CSA is designed to give members the maximum flexibility to choose which cheeses and gelato flavors they want for each pick up. We have four convenient pick up locations in central Illinois: two in Champaign-Urbana and two in Bloomington-Normal.  Check it out.

Farm to table Meals-Tickets going fast Don’t forget to peruse the line- up of farm to table meals we’re offering this year.  From a spring lamb dinner in May to a fall Mexican feast in October, we have something to please many palates at several price points.  Take a look and make your reservations NOW.  

 


Copyright 2017. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2017. 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.