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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks and enjoy your week.
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 email@example.com
Have a great week and see you on Saturday.
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!
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:
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:
Little Ritchie, our once fertile La Mancha buck (now a docile wether with a full rabbinic beard), was much more cooperative:
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!!
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
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.
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:
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.
Our thanksgiving feast last night was a testament to the abundance of fantastic local food in our midst. Our 20 pound turkey was a pastured, broad-breasted bronze from Triple S Farms, all of the vegetables came from either our own garden or from farmers selling at either the Urbana or Bloomington Farmers' Markets, the stuffing was made with bread from Stewart's Artisan Breads in Mahomet and of course our very own cheese adorned several side dishes.
Tomorrow, both Urbana and Champaign business associations are encouraging holiday shoppers to patronize local businesses. In the spirit of "buy local," I'm encouraging you to come to the Urbana farmers' market inside Lincoln Square Mall tomorrow. The farmers will be back in their usual location on the south entrance of the mall (near Art Mart). I know food is probably the last thing on your minds after thanksgiving feasts, but why not consider food as gifts for family or friends and your out of town guests? You can show off the bounty of central Illinois' food producers. We will be there to serve you with plenty of:
- chevre--plain,herbs de Provence, cracked black peppercorn
- Angel Food (it's on sale this weekend-another nod to post thankgiving shopping deals)
- Little Bloom on the Prairie
- and a few Black Goat rounds.
I may also have a few jars of pickled green tomatoes (goes GREAT with all that leftover turkey) and our ever so chic organic cotton CSG t-shirts. I hope to see you there!!
I know many of you are already busy with Thanksgiving food preparations and/or travel, so I'll be brief. We have decided to offer an on-farm sale & open house TOMORROW (THAT'S TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 22ND) FROM 3-6PM. Maybe you missed the Saturday pre-Thanksgiving market, maybe you were deterred by the crowds; whatever the reason, we won't be judgemental. Come on out to the farm to shop, have a complimentary cup of hot, mulled Curtis Orchard Apple cider and see the goats! We'll have plenty of cheese:
- Fresh chevre-will add some zest to your salad or over those roasted beets you plant to make
- Angel Food Brie--you can warm it in the oven with dried fruits, nuts and a little drizzled honey!! yum....
- Little Bloom on the Prairie--perfect for the cheese plate accompanied with jam
- and a few Black Goat-soft ripened goat discs with ash-covered rinds--another beauty for the cheese plate
We have some jams availalbe as well for the cheese plate--a couple of the green tomato and some apple butter, AND a few jars of pickled green tomatoes to serve along with that turkey.
We also have a few pints of gelato for sale--some vanilla, pistachio and buttered walnut I believe (limited quantities).
Lastly, we will have some our organic vegetables for sale:
- Sweet potatoes
- Butternut squash
- Rainbow chard
- White Russion Kale
- Green Savoy Cabbage
- Red Bull's Blood Beets
WOW! Almost everything you might need to fix a scrumptious local food thanksgiving feast! The barn will be heated; we hope to see you here!!
The torch is being past to our next generation of does this week. Since it appears that most of our older does have been bred, we decided to move the breeding bucks into the “kid” barn to begin breeding our yearlings. We have separate pens for Eddie, Mocha and Rex. The plan is to wait until the yearlings show signs of being in heat and then put them with their “arranged” suitor. Since Rex is the smallest of the three bucks, we’re using him as our “heat detector.” Twice a day, we put him on a lead and parade him with the young ones. They are clearly NOT in heat yet, as they flee from him and hide en masse behind the hay feeders. Wes said they reminded him of junior high schools girls at their first dance in the school gym—all packed up, afraid of the boys, but curious at the same time.
For most farmers who sell at farmers’ markets, this weekend’s sales are our equivalent of retailers’ “black Friday.” The weekend before Thanksgiving is THE time of food purchasing to usher in the nation’s ONLY celebration of the seasonal foods. While we recognize that cheese, jams and gelato were not fixtures on the Pilgrim’s thanksgiving table, we know they hold a prominent place in the modern-day thanksgiving feast. After all, our milk is seasonal, our gelato flavors are seasonal and the jams are VERY seasonal.
This Saturday, we are attending THREE farmers’ markets: Urbana, Bloomington and Chicago’s Green City Market. We’ll be bringing lots of cheese for you and our cheesemakers, Nat and Alison have a special holiday message for you:
Hi Everybody! We are Nat and Alison, or Alison and Nat. We make up the dynamic dishwashing (aka cheesemaking) team here at Prairie Fruits Farm. However, for many years preceding the making of it, we sold cheese for Pastoral in Chicago. Although the holiday season can often be a double-edged sword in the world of cheesemongering (that’s cheese parlance for those who sell cheese), there are few things more wonderful than helping the customer build a glorious holiday cheeseboard anointed with all the perfectly complimentary accompaniments.
To that end (and this is selfish, we admit), the only thing better than helping the customer choose the cheese for the plate would be to MAKE the cheese, THEN help the customer choose it. So, here we go!
Let's talk progression. Now, we are not saying that you have to tell Uncle Bob to eat his cheese in this order, or he will get none at all, but arranging your cheese with a wide variation in flavors and textures will knock it out the park. Firstly, start with chevre (I mean who wouldn’t, it goes with everything!). Posing as the delicate quenelle in the lower right of the photo, the role of chevre in a cheese course should not be underestimated. Its high acidity, creamy yet subtly chalky texture can open up the palate for the more assertive cheeses to follow it. So, to the delicious looking number in the upper left hand corner of the photo - a soft-ripened cheese next would be ideal paired with a high acidity, sweet jam such as Alisa’s green-tomato. I am not gonna lie; soft-ripened cheeses are where we are holding all aces, so the choices you have are broad: Angel Food for decadence, Little Bloom on the Prairie for finesse and Black Goat for, well, joie de vivre. In an ideal world, you would end either with Roxanne or Moonglo, the portioned pieces in the top right of our picture. Slightly tangy, grassy, herbal flavors make both of these cheese pair beautifully with apple butters, pears, and all their close relatives. If you get to the farmers’ market early, all of these cheeses will be yours to choose from. In a non-ideal world, you get to market a little late. Well, a chevre, Black Goat, Little Bloom cheese plate is still gonna bring ‘em to their knees.
OH! One final recommendation – Cold cheese is like turkey without gravy, so, for Leslie’s sake, temper your cheese at room temperature for at least one hour before serving.
As Nat and Alison mentioned, we have two jams to accompany these cheeses: green tomato (a lovely sweet-tart jam made with the oodles of green tomatoes we harvested before the last freeze) and heritage apple butter. The apples come from Wolfe Orchard in Monticello, IL. They raise a number of old varieties of apples on the hills of Central Illinois (formed by receding glaciers that left piles of rubble known as terminal moraines)—we chose a medley of apples for this slow cooked apple butter. Alisa was also busy processing the remainder of our green tomatoes into pickled green tomatoes and green tomato relish, and we will have jars of those products available for sale at both Urbana and Bloomington Holiday Markets.
And now I come to the gelato. Stewart was busy in the kitchen one final time this season to prepare several delicious flavors of gelato. We will have pints only for sale at both Urbana and Bloomington:
- Honey Lavender
- Buttered walnut & Maple (with Jarrell family English walnuts)
- Maple Butternut
Lastly, don’t forget to pick up a Prairie Fruits Farm Community Supported Goat T-Shirt (think early holiday presents—beat the rush). They’re organic cotton, large size only and a bargain at $15.
Wes, Leslie, the staff and all the goats at Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery wish you all a delicious, local and seasonal thanksgiving holiday. We have A LOT to be thankful for.
Farm News: Setting the clocks back by one small hour this past weekend has had a profound effect on the psyche of humans and goats alike at Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery. We humans and goats find it ever so slightly more difficult to make our way to the barn in the evening to start the chores. The wood stove is calling me and the desire to make soup with lots of noodles is very strong. The goat girls are slightly more reluctant to venture out of their cozy pens to come on to the milk stand, and their udders are starting to look slightly deflated. It could be the suddenly shortened day length or it could be the realization they are "settled" (livestock terminology for pregnant)--they show no signs of morning sickness, just strong feelings for bedding down and eating lots and lots of hay.
By 4:30 in the afternoon, the chickens are starting their dusk-driven ritual of settling on top the pen railings for the evening roosting. Their egg production has dropped off as well; or it could be that they are laying their eggs deeply nestled into the bottoms of the hay feeders (beyond the reach of my short arms anyway). Chino, the cat, takes his time rousing himself off our bed in the morning and, once outside, he realizes he'd rather be back inside the house (and back on the bed). Speaking of beds, little by little, our garden is being put "to bed" too-Rachel harvested the beets and the carrots this week (in between gusts of wind and bursts of rain showers); the carrots have that frost-kissed sweetness that is irresistible. These beds will now get a nice thick cover of waste hay mulch to tuck them in for the winter. The tomato vines are finally senescing and my desire to harvest one more batch of tomatoes is quiet now.
Farmers' Market Happenings: It's indoors for us this Saturday, November 12th--both Urbana's Holiday Market and Chicago's Green City Markets have moved inside. Both start at the more civilized hour of 8AM and end at 1PM. We've got some kick-butt, creamy cheeses for sale this weekend:
- Plenty of fresh chevre--plain, herbs de Provence and cracked black peppercorn--not too early to buy extras to freeze for the winter
- The last of the FRESH GOAT MILK RICOTTA OF THE SEASON--Nat and Alison, our cheese makers, say this is the best batch ever. Nat recommends blending the ricotta with some fresh herbs (think thyme, sage, rosemary perhaps) and pine nuts and stuffing it inside some home-made raviolis. If that's not enough, he says to buy a nice winter squash like butternut or red kuri, roast it in the oven (with some olive oil), puree the cooked squash, add some chevre and cream to make a scrumptious squash-chevre-cream sauce and serve it over those ricotta-stuffed raviolis. You WILL impress your friends and family if you make this quintessential fall dish.
- Angel Food Brie
- Little Bloom on the Prairie
- maybe--Roxanne (if not this week, then next week for sure)
Speaking of small but delicious cheese, I have to brag a little bit. A few weekends ago, someone emailed us to say "hey, did you know you're in the Wall Street Journal??" Well, much to our surprise (and glee), our farm and our cheeses were mentioned in an article in their weekend edition about great cheeses in small packages. I am including a link to the pdf version of this article for your enjoyment: http://sfc.smallfarmcentral.com/dynamic_content/uploadfiles/167/Prairie%20Fruits%20Farms.wallstreet.journal.pdf
Lastly, we thought we had sold all of our CSG t-shirts last year, but as I was rummaging through piles of paper this week (in my attempt to clean up some of the clutter held over from the spring) I found a whole box full of Large, organic cotton T-shirts with the ever-so-chic montage of goat girl heads on the back. They're only $15, and they are unique (soon to be a collector's item--can't say when though). We will have them for sale through the holiday season until they're gone--so if you don't have one yet, now is your chance--GREAT gift idea!!