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Welcome to Leslie's Blog.
Posted 2/13/2012 3:08pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Happy February to everyone! I think spring is soon within our grasp.

A quick message to those of you within buying range of Champaign Urbana to sign up for Saturday, February 18th pickup. Also, for those of you in the Bloomington-Normal and Peoria regions, we want to alert you to our brand new Cheese, Bread and Gelato CSA.  Breads are made lovingly by Katic Breads, of course our cheeses and of course our goat milk gelato.  Runs from the end of May through Mid November. All the info is on our website: www.prairiefruits.com Under the general heading "Interact." Check it out-sign up is now in progress for th 2012 season.

Here's the message from Blue Moon Farm about veggies, cheese and how to place your order:

Greetings all!

Ordering is open, and will close on Tuesday at 10pm. We have more delicious green,orange, and white produce for you, along with cheeses from PFF. The pickup hours are 9-11 on Saturday, Feb.18. 

Thanks for the smooth pickup last week; it seems we're all learning what to do. 

A few reminders about the pickup process: Spinach and salad mix are in .5# increments. Turnips and carrots are in 1# increments. We will have a separate table for extra produce. At 11am all unsold produce will be up for general sale. It helps if those who have orders come before 10:59. 

As we move into March, we expect vigorous regrowth of all green leafies. However, we have to make it through February, where it's lean. Things might sell out faster than usual. 

To order, please go to www.bluemoonfarm.biz/products-page/

As usual, we welcome all feedback. Email us at bluemoonfarmurbana@gmail.com

 

Posted 2/13/2012 2:10pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Happy February to everyone! I think spring is soon within our grasp.

A quick message to those of you within buying range of Champaign Urbana to sign up for Saturday, February 18th pickup. Also, for those of you in the Bloomington-Normal and Peoria regions, we want to alert you to our brand new Cheese, Bread and Gelato CSA.  Breads are made lovingly by Katic Breads, of course our cheeses and of course our goat milk gelato.  Runs from the end of May through Mid November. All the info is on our website: www.prairiefruits.com Under the general heading "Interact." Check it out-sign up is now in progress for th 2012 season.

Here's the message from Blue Moon Farm about veggies, cheese and how to place your order:

Greetings all!

Ordering is open, and will close on Tuesday at 10pm. We have more delicious green,orange, and white produce for you, along with cheeses from PFF. The pickup hours are 9-11 on Saturday, Feb.18. 

Thanks for the smooth pickup last week; it seems we're all learning what to do. 

A few reminders about the pickup process: Spinach and salad mix are in .5# increments. Turnips and carrots are in 1# increments. We will have a separate table for extra produce. At 11am all unsold produce will be up for general sale. It helps if those who have orders come before 10:59. 

As we move into March, we expect vigorous regrowth of all green leafies. However, we have to make it through February, where it's lean. Things might sell out faster than usual. 

To order, please go to www.bluemoonfarm.biz/products-page/

As usual, we welcome all feedback. Email us at bluemoonfarmurbana@gmail.com

 

Posted 2/13/2012 1:09pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Happy February to everyone! I think spring is soon within our grasp.

A quick message to those of you within buying range of Champaign Urbana to sign up for Saturday, February 18th pickup. Also, for those of you in the Bloomington-Normal and Peoria regions, we want to alert you to our brand new Cheese, Bread and Gelato CSA.  Breads are made lovingly by Katic Breads, of course our cheeses and of course our goat milk gelato.  Runs from the end of May through Mid November. All the info is on our website: www.prairiefruits.com Under the general heading "Interact." Check it out-sign up is now in progress for th 2012 season.

Here's the message from Blue Moon Farm about veggies, cheese and how to place your order:

Greetings all!

Ordering is open, and will close on Tuesday at 10pm. We have more delicious green,orange, and white produce for you, along with cheeses from PFF. The pickup hours are 9-11 on Saturday, Feb.18. 

Thanks for the smooth pickup last week; it seems we're all learning what to do. 

A few reminders about the pickup process: Spinach and salad mix are in .5# increments. Turnips and carrots are in 1# increments. We will have a separate table for extra produce. At 11am all unsold produce will be up for general sale. It helps if those who have orders come before 10:59. 

As we move into March, we expect vigorous regrowth of all green leafies. However, we have to make it through February, where it's lean. Things might sell out faster than usual. 

To order, please go to www.bluemoonfarm.biz/products-page/

As usual, we welcome all feedback. Email us at bluemoonfarmurbana@gmail.com

 

Posted 2/13/2012 12:05pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Happy February to everyone! I think spring is soon within our grasp.

A quick message to those of you within buying range of Champaign Urbana to sign up for Saturday, February 18th pickup. Also, for those of you in the Bloomington-Normal and Peoria regions, we want to alert you to our brand new Cheese, Bread and Gelato CSA.  Breads are made lovingly by Katic Breads, of course our cheeses and of course our goat milk gelato.  Runs from the end of May through Mid November. All the info is on our website: www.prairiefruits.com Under the general heading "Interact." Check it out-sign up is now in progress for th 2012 season.

Here's the message from Blue Moon Farm about veggies, cheese and how to place your order:

Greetings all!

Ordering is open, and will close on Tuesday at 10pm. We have more delicious green,orange, and white produce for you, along with cheeses from PFF. The pickup hours are 9-11 on Saturday, Feb.18. 

Thanks for the smooth pickup last week; it seems we're all learning what to do. 

A few reminders about the pickup process: Spinach and salad mix are in .5# increments. Turnips and carrots are in 1# increments. We will have a separate table for extra produce. At 11am all unsold produce will be up for general sale. It helps if those who have orders come before 10:59. 

As we move into March, we expect vigorous regrowth of all green leafies. However, we have to make it through February, where it's lean. Things might sell out faster than usual. 

To order, please go to www.bluemoonfarm.biz/products-page/

As usual, we welcome all feedback. Email us at bluemoonfarmurbana@gmail.com

 

Posted 2/2/2012 6:01pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Greetings from subtropical Champaign Illinois. I know that Puxatawny Phil, the PA groundhog, reportedly saw his shadow today (according to the weather forecast, it was a cloudy day in Puxatawny, so how he could see his shadow is a mystery to me), signaling six more weeks of winter.  If his version of winter is anything like what we have been experiencing here (sunny, temperatures in the '50's), then, I am just fine with his weather prognosis. The winter has been wonderful and eerie at the same time.  Our goats and Jemimah the donkey have been going out to the pasture regularly throughout the month of January.  We have been keeping the barn doors open at night because the temperatures have been so balmy. Yet, the high night temperatures have us worried that the fruit trees will break dormancy and start to bud out. This would be a disaster for our fruit crop. 

The spring like temperatures have made us antsy to sell cheese so, we've decided to attend the Green City Market this coming Saturday, February 4th at the Peggy Notebart Nature Museum (8AM to 1PM). Nat, one of our cheesemakers, will be there with little bells on selling some winter cheese gems. So, if you're a Chicago resident, Saturday is your lucky day. We will have some plain chevre on hand (previously frozen but this does not alter the flavor or texture of the cheese one bit), our raw milk tomme "Moonglo, " our grating style raw sheep milk cheese "Kaskaskia" and the debut of our late lactation raw milk "Huckleberry Blue."  All of these cheeses would be a great addition to any Super bowl soiree you might be planning, or just buy them and enjoy them in the privacy of your own kitchen. 

Champaign Urbana residents who pre-ordered their cheeses through Blue Moon Farm can pick up your orders on Saturday, February 4th from 9-11AM. 

NEW CSA FOR BLOOMINGTON NORMAL-PEORIA CUSTOMERS

On other fronts, while winter is supposed to be our "down time," we are very busy planning for the 2012 cheese making and farm dinner season.  For patrons in the Bloomington-Normal and Peoria regions, we will be offering a "Cheese and Bread CSA." The cheese comes from us, and the bread comes from Katic Breads, artisan breadmakers who have been selling their old world style breads at the Bloomington Farmers' Market last season.  We will send out another email in the next few days with the details of this CSA and how to sign up.

FARM DINNER SCHEDULE AND RESERVATION RELEASES

We have received MANY inquiries about the farm dinner dates for 2012, so I thought it timely to let you all know some of our plans. We will be offering 14 dinner dates starting in late May and running every two weeks through December 1st.  As in years past, we have our wonderful and talented farm chef, Alisa DeMarco, doing most of the dinners, in addition to several guest chefs. To ensure that all of our mailing list members receive ample notice about posting of the dates/reservations on the website, we will send out an email about one week prior to the release date. We are also going to stagger the release dates of the dinners in groups of about five dinners. So, the first release will occur in late February for the first five dinners of the season. The second release date will occur sometime in early June for the next four dinner dates, and the third release date will occur in early September for the final five dinner dates. This should ensure that more people have an opportunity to sign up for at least one dinner.  I hope this alleviates some of your concerns. Stay tuned in late February for more details. 

Posted 1/30/2012 1:01pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
For those of you within driving distance of Urbana Champaign, it's time again to pre-order vegetables from Blue Moon Farm and a selection of our cheeses for pickup on Saturday Febraury 3rd.  This week's cheese special is our raw goat milk blue "Huckleberry Blue."  It's nice and creamy, with a slight crumble--perfect for that spinach salad you plan to make with sweet as sugar Blue Moon Farm spinach.  Here are the ordering details from Blue Moon. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE CUTOFF TIME FOR PLACING YOUR ORDER IS TOMORROW (TUESDAY, JANUARY 31ST AT 10PM).  Here are the details from Blue Moon (please read carefully):
Greetings!

We are looking forward to another stellar weather week and hoping for fast regrowth, as we cut everything pretty hard for the last pickup.

We'll be closing orders on Tuesday night at 10pm.  Our time and location remain the same: Lincoln Square Village from 9-11 behind the Common Ground Food Co-op

Some items may sell out more quickly this week, such as beets (goodbye until spring) and arugula. We have two new items this week: claytonia (please read the description in the order list) and Huckleberry Blue from Prairie Fruits Farm. Cilantro and braising mix are on break until regrowth occurs.

About the pickup process: it was smoother last week until 10:55 when the "feeding frenzy" began. I hope everyone who ordered produce got it. Next week we will not open up sales of non-extras until a little past 11, to avoid the panic. Sorry again to the folks who didn't get their eggs.  This week, I typed in the correct quantity.

To reiterate the unit quantities: spinach and salad mix are sold in units, or increments of .5#, or half pounds.Turnips, beets,and carrots are sold in units, or increments of 1#, or full pounds. If you order 2 units of salad mix, that is a pound of salad. If you order 2 units of beets, that is 2 pounds of beets.

To go straight to ordering, click on the link: www.bluemoonfarm.biz/products-page/

For first time users, go to our info section: www.bluemoonfarm.biz/about/winter-market-how-it-works/

We still welcome all feedback, please email us at bluemoonfarmurbana@gmail.com

Thanks and enjoy your week.

Posted 1/15/2012 5:56pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Greetings! Winter has finally arrived with a respectable covering of snow and frigid temperatures. From the weather forecast here, it sounds like we'll be all melted in the next 24 hours, but it was beautiful while it lasted.  Things continue to be slow and peaceful here at the farm. The biggest ruffle of the week was that a few yearlings decided to come into heat. This means June births!!

FOR CHAMPAIGN-URBANA AND OTHER CENTRAL ILLINOIS PATRONS: On the local food front, Blue Moon Farm's pre-order system for veggies, cheese and some eggs (very limited quantity) is now live on their website. Below is their message about what's available and how to order. Please note that their cut-off date for ordering is this TUESDAY, JANUARY 17TH.  They need sufficient time to harvest everything so it's ready for you to pick up on Saturday January 21st from 9-11AM (inside Lincoln Square Mall, Behind Common Ground Food Coop).  Here's the full message:

Greetings all. Thanks to everyone for a relatively smooth, if a little crowded, pick up last Saturday.

 Ordering is open and  will close Tuesday at 10pm for Saturday's Pickup at Lincoln Square Village. The hours for the pickup are 9-11am.

That's right, we close at 11am on Saturday. 

The weather is too unpredictable to keep the ordering open until Thursday. We need to have the week for harvesting.

We have limited amounts of arugula available this week. Tatsoi is on hiatus  We are offering a braising mix this week which consists of small leaves of tatsoi, mizuna, red mustard and kale. We will also have salad mix, spinach, kale, chard, parsley, cilantro, mache, beets, turnips, carrots, and a variety of cheeses and eggs from Prairie Fruits Farm. 

We changed the increments on the order sheet to reduce confusion. Spinach and salad mix are in .5# units, or increments. Turnips, beets, and carrots are in 1# units, or increments. Thanks for everyone's patience last week with the confusing variety of unit sizes. Another note about the order form: if you do not see a product listed, then it is either sold out or on hiatus. 

Please don't write out a check beforehand with the amount written in. The prices are going to vary slightly at the pickup. It's hard to get exact weights on things, so you may end up paying slightly more or less than the total given to you on the website. Also, no products are completely guaranteed, given the weather. 

Here is the link to the order form http://www.bluemoonfarm.biz/products-page/.

If you are new to this whole process, visit this page: http://www.bluemoonfarm.biz/about/winter-market-how-it-works/

 We welcome all feedback. Please email us at bluemoonfarmurbana@gmail.com

Have a great week and see you on Saturday. 


Posted 12/15/2011 7:55pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

We've been having way too much fun this past week getting the goats in the mood for the holidays and keeping them enthused about being milked a little while longer. A few days ago, Nat and Alison adorned the stantion in the milking parlor with evergreen garland boughs, hoping to get a great photo shot of all the goat girls' heads enveloped in evergreens for a holiday card. Well, the first set of milkers came onto the stantion and within minutes, one of the does got wise to the edible delights above her head and reached up for a nibble.  As Alison tells the tale, what happened next was nothing short of shear goat pandemonium--they all started tugging on the garland, pulled it off the stantion and started eating it! 

chippy in garland heaven

Clearly, Chippewa (aka Chippy) is enjoying her evergreen treat--notice her eyes are closed to fully savor the douglas fir flavor.   Roxanne, below, framed in green garland deliciousness, glows with the joy of the season:

roxanne in garland

In keeping with the spirit of green, Wes and I attempted to crown Jemimah, the donkey with a wreath of fir boughs, but she, who is NOT a goat, would have nothing of it. Here's Wes trying to convince her that evergreens are good but she wasn't buying it:

Jemimah leary of evergreen

Little Ritchie, our once fertile La Mancha buck (now a docile wether with a full rabbinic beard), was much more cooperative:

Ritchie, Wes head wreath

He did want to eat his head wreath, but he cooperated for the sake of a photo opp. Yes, sometimes we just have too much fun! 

This Saturday, December 17th, we attend our last farmers' markets of the season: Urbana's Holiday Market inside Lincoln Square Mall and Chicago's Green City Market inside the Peggy Notebart Nature Museum.  Both run from 8AM to 1PM.  It feels like only yesterday we were setting up outside for the first markets of the season.  The last one is always bittersweet.  While we pine for our winter break from milking and cheesemaking, we'll miss all of the great customers we've come to know this year and from years' past.  To ring out the 2011 season with full regalia, we're bringing LOTS of cheese for you to enjoy with friends and family over the holidays:

  • Fresh chevre (of course): plain, herbs de Provence, cracked black peppercorn
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie--the last batch of the season, made with our wonderfully rich milk, is sure to be a crowd pleaser at any holiday gathering
  • Black goat-the delicate little discs of slightly aged goat cheese dusted in vegetable ash--perfect for the holiday cheese plate or even with a salad of fresh winter greens
  • Moonglo--take a wedge of our raw goat milk tomme to your friend's party and watch the guests sink their teeth into a slice along with a hearty glass of red wine!!
  • Kaskaskia--this hard raw sheep milk cheese made in the early summer is the perfect garnish for a hearty winter stew or some roasted brussel sprouts

Lastly, we will be selling our silky sweet goat milk cajeta (Mexican style caramel sauce): $12 for an 8 ounce jar. It goes wonderfully with ice cream (sorry we don't have gelato to sell you, but you can buy another premium frozen dessert and not hurt our feelings), but it is also sublime with sliced fresh apples (still widely available at the farmers' markets). 

At this time of holiday celebrations, we take stock of all the wonderful things that have happened to us this year: our top notch employees, our prolific and loving goats, the arrival of our new guard donkey, a fantastic season of farm dinners and other on-farm events and YOU our patrons.   We thank you!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND AN EASY WINTER TO YOU ALL!!



Posted 12/8/2011 9:53pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

The cold winds of winter bringing a skiff of snow tonight make it ever so hard to convince the does to come into the parlor to be milked.  Every week, a few more peel off the milk line, drying themselves up before we have made the decision to pull the proverbial plug.  Their fur coats are thickening and stand on end in the morning when the air is moist and cold. This gives them an exaggerated appearance of being "with child."  Speaking of pregnant, we had the vets come out yesterday to ultra-sound the does to confirm their pregnancies and estimate their due dates.  Lots and lots of easy confirmations--it went so fast this year compared to years past; further proof that March 2012 will be a busy month indeed. Despite their increasing reluctance to be milked and their waning milk volume, we will continue to coax them into the milking parlor for a little while longer so we can supply you (our customers) with plenty of cheese for the holidays.
Jemimah the donkey continues to feel more comfortable at the farm. She has started to make soft braying sounds whenever someone comes into the barn. She's even showing some "donkey attitude."  She gets carrot treats at least twice a day in the hopes of winning her over. She got her vet checkup and vaccinations yesterday--good bill of health except for a few teeth that will need to be "floated" (that's equine terminology for having her teeth filed down--boy do I have a lot to learn about horses and donkeys!!).

This Saturday, I'll be at the Urbana's Holiday Market inside Lincoln Square Mall from 8AM to 1PM.  I've got a great line up of cheeses to offer our market patrons this week:

  • Fresh chevre, of course--plain, herbs de Provence and cracked black peppercorn
  • Angel Food--this is the last of the season of our goat milk brie, so get it while it lasts
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie-super luscious goat milk camembert--perfect for holiday parties
  • Moonglo--our early fall batches are coming ripe now, so we should have plenty for your holiday needs
  • Kaskaskia-our hard, raw sheep milk cheese that has been aging for about six months, slightly salty and somewhat nutty, it's perfect for grating over those winter stews and roasted veggies
Back by popular demand for this week and next week's markets, our chef Alisa's "Cajeta de Leche de Cabra" aka goat milk caramel sauce.  We have both 4 oz. and 8 oz. jars for sale.  It goes great on fresh fruit or ice cream or any other sweet concoction you can dream up.  Makes a great gift for the sweet tooth on your gift list too. 


Posted 12/1/2011 9:35pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

donkey eating first carrot
The highlight of the week was the arrival our first farm guard animal, a lovely female donkey (aka a jenny) named Jemimah.  She is 12 years old (on the young side of middle aged for a donkey) and was the guardian of a flock of sheep for many years. Her owner sold the sheep flock, Jemimah became very lonely and in a need of another flock, so we gladly welcomed her into our herd.  We set up a separate pen for her inside the adult goat barn so she could check out the goats, and probably more importantly, so the goats could check her out safely. 
donkey eyeing goats
She being the greater in size eyed them calmly and without much fanfare--no usual vocalizations (braying is what they call the loud call from the donkey), just slight bewilderment about her new surroundings. The goats, on the other hand, were EXTREMELY curious about their new barn mate:

goats eying donkey

The long line of heads focused in Jemimah's direction, all ears pointed towards her, was classic goat intrigue (sadly, we didn't get that image on film). They ran back and forth from each end of the barn every time Jemimah took a step towards them. Within a few minutes, they had calmed down some, and a few of the goats--Ritchie and Larissa in particular (both La Mancha, mind you) cautiously approached their adjoining fence.  Jemimah got distracted by her first carrot and some delicious alfalfa hay, and soon the goats were going about their usual business--eating their own hay, ruminating, taking a little nap.  As Jemimah settles into her new home, we'll gradually give her supervised contact visits with the goats so she bonds with them. I am very optimistic that she will win the goats over with her calming, sweet and mellow personality. Her real job begins in the spring when we will have her on night patrol to protect our newborn goat kids from unwanted predators.

Last Farm Dinner of the Season

In our now traditional fashion, we'll close out the farm dinner season with a beer & cheese dinner in partnership with our friends at the Blind Pig Microbrewery.  This dinner is sold out, but I will post the menu on our website: www.prairiefruits.com (under the "Dinners on the Farm"heading, followed by "Dinner Descriptions and Make Reservations" and then under the heading of the December 3rd Beer and Cheese Fete).  We'll be serving some beers especially made for the meal along with others that our chef Alisa and Brew Meister, Bill Morgan have selected to accompany each course. It should be lots of fun--a great way to close out a wonderful dinner season--Thank You to all of our dinner guests. Stay tuned for notices about the 2012 dinner season in the early new year. 

Farmers Markets and Cheese

We're attending TWO farmers' markets this Saturday, December 3rd: Urbana's Holiday Market and Chicago's Green City Market. Both run from 8AM to 1PM and both are indoors--warm and civilized.  Our repertoire is limited, but the cheeses are rich and creamy.

  • Fresh chevre--plentiful--plain, herbs de Provence, cracked peppercorn
  • Angel Food--goat milk brie
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie-goat milk camembert (limited quanities)

All of these cheeses would be wonderful additions to all those holiday parties you'll be attending. Don't forget to stock up on chevre for the winter.  We will have more cheeses available as the holidays approach, so stay posted. As always, thank you for your patronage.