News

Welcome to Leslie's Blog.
Posted 5/28/2010 11:53am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
This week we have a limited repertoire of cheeses available for you at the farmers' markets. Our other cheeses are ripening away, and we should have more diversity next week. We will be attending Urbana, Bloomington, Green City and Oak Park Farmers' Markets.
We have:
Fresh chevre (plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper)
Angel Food --nice and gooey
Ewe Bloom--tastes great right now!
Limited amount of Roxanne-raw sheep milk brebis style
Mollisol Pecorino-our raw sheep milk Pecorino Romano style--sharp, slightly salty--great for grating over some roasted veggies or a beet salad.

A little insight about farmstead cheese and seasonality: milk and cheese are affected by the weather and the environment. Take our Ewe Bloom, for example. We are having an explosion of wild blue mold on these cheeses right now. It turns out that sheep on pasture produce milk that is friendly to the growth of this wild blue mold. It also turns out that when farmers' plow their fields and plant their crops this time of year, that lots of blue mold spores are cast into the air and make their way into our cheeserie. This mold is natural, it is not harmful to people, it has a mild and slightly earthy, almost non-detectable taste, yet its appearance is jarring to the human eye. Most people think that blue mold on cheese means it's spoiled. I assure you we wouldn't bring these cheeses to market if they were spoiled.  I encourage you to not judge this cheese by the color of it's "skin." Rather, close your eyes and take a taste. If then you're not convinced, you can pass it by. 
As spring fades into summer, I encourage you to be adventurous--eat some moldy cheese today!
Happy Local Food Eating!
Posted 5/21/2010 11:02am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Freedom Ranger chicks
The "Freedom Ranger" chicks arrive
Guinea Keets
The guinea "keets" are here too
This is a week of several season "firsts."  Our "Freedom Ranger" day-old broiler chicks arrived at the Post Office this morning along with our guinea keets (this is what guinea fowl babies are called).  The Freedom Rangers chickens were developed in France under the name of  "Label Rouge" and are designed for pasture raising. They have sturdy legs and love to eat grass and forage for insects.  We are very excited to try them.  Our guineas will be featured in the 100 yard dinner later this season. We learned a lot about how to raise them last year (how to keep predators away from them and prevent them from escaping in general), so we hope to have plenty to serve to our guests come October.
We harvested our first respectable crop of strawberries, and they are mighty tasty (not enough to sell yet, but for those of you coming to the first farm dinner, you'll get to experience them).  We picked our first bunches of spring greens--kale, collards, baby swiss chard, beet greens.  We will host our first farm dinner of the season on Saturday. If you haven't seen the menu, go to our website, click on "Dinners on the Farm," then "Dinner Descriptions and Make Reservations." Then, click on the "Spring Hopes Eternal" dinner and scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the menu.  For those of you signed up to attend this dinner, the weather is forecast to be in the low '80's and sunny. We will be dining outside, so dress accordingly. It should be a spectacular evening.
We start selling our cheeses at the Oak Park Farmers' Market this Saturday, bringing our market total to three (Urbana, Green City Market and Oak Park). Next Saturday, we'll add Bloomington to the farmers' market repertoire.  Our first raw milk cheese of the season is ready to eat--Roxanne, our raw sheep milk brebis style cheese wil make it's 2010 debut at the farmers' markets. It's firm and creamy with a hint of nuttiness. Great for a grilled cheese sandwich or just slice a piece and eat it unadulterated. 
We will also have the following cheeses at the markets this Saturday:
Fresh chevre-the usual flavors
Angel Food--goat milk brie
Little Bloom on the Prairie-goat milk camembert style
Ewe Bloom--the little triangles of sheep milk gooeyness
Krotovina-the pyramid of the best of both milks
Roxanne--raw sheep milk brebis
Happy Eating!
Posted 5/18/2010 7:21pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Dear Prairie Fruits Farm Dinner Guests (and others, I realize):

The tentative menu is now on our website (www.prairiefruits.com) for the May 22nd Farm Dinner. You can find it under "Dinners on the Farm," then "Dinner Descriptions and Make Reservations," then click on the May 22nd "Spring Hopes Eternal" dinner.
 For those of you who will be coming to this dinner, please take a look so you can choose your wines or other beverages accordingly. For everyone else, feel free to take a look and imagine the deliciousness.

Stay tuned for future menus as the dinner dates approach.
Posted 5/14/2010 10:11am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Greetings cheese lovers:
It's the time of year we start adding farmers' markets to our repertoire. This Saturday--yes that is TOMORROW--we'll be attending the Urbana Farmers' Market and the Chicago Green City Market. Both start at 7AM and Urbana ends at noon, while Green City continues until 1PM.
We'll be offering you the following cheeses:
  • Our wonderfully fluffy chevre--plain, herbs de Provence and cracked peppercorn
  • Angel Food--the brie style goat cheese
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie --our goat milk camembert style cheese
  • Krotovina--a lovely pyramid mold-ripened cheese that has a layer of sheep milk curd and a layer of goat milk curd separated by a very thin layer of vegetable ash
  • Ewe Bloom--our soft ripened sheep milk cheese
  • Prairie Dropseed--our blended milk geo-mold rind cheese--looks like a little snow ball.

We look forward to seeing you tomorrow.
Thank you for your patronage.
Posted 5/6/2010 9:30pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Mothers' day means a lot to me here on the farm. I have become the surrogate "mother" of over 100 baby goats this year.  Each one has his/her personality, some stronger than others, some with markings that make you marvel at genetics and some so fiesty that they make you laugh.  This is the great thing about having a goat dairy. Every year we get two plus months of "mothers' day." Well, all those babies have brought an abundance of milk, and we've been busy transforming that milk into an array of different cheeses for you to enjoy at the markets. 
little fawn baby
We're debuting a new bloomy rind cheese this weekend at the Urbana Farmers' Market. We call it "Prairie Dropseed," named after that beautiful prairie plant with a delicate raceme of seeds blowing in the wind.  Some of you may recall a cheese by that name that made the roster last year. Well, this one is different: it's our first true "mixed milk" cheese-blending sheep and goat milk in the cheese vat, adding a bit of geo white mold to the milk, ladling it like our chevre and then forming it into beautiful balls that develop a thin crinkly ivory rind after about 10 days. It is aged for a total of two weeks and has a nice creamy texture reminiscent of our chevre, but is more crumbly. Try it on a salad of local spring greens or crumble it on top of your favorite pasta dish. It makes an excellent Mothers' Day gift.
Prairie Dropseed
We also have the following other cheeses for you to enjoy:
Chevre of course--plain, herbs de Provence and cracked pepper
Black sheep--another "experimental" cheese-soft ripened with ash coating on the outside--all sheep milk. It is more firm and mild compared to Ewe Bloom. You can really taste the milk in this cheese.
Angel Food-gooey as ever
Little Bloom on the Prairie--what can I say--it's becoming a classic
Krotovina-the best of two milks separated by ash in a lovely little pyramid
Mollisol Pecorino--our raw sheep milk Pecorino Romano style cheese that we have been aging patiently for about one year. It's got a nice nutty and sharp flavor-excellent for grating or shaving over some roasted asparagus or rapini (Blue Moon Farm has some killer good rapini right now).
We also have a few very ripe Red Dawn--get them while supplies last.
For those of you in Chicago, don't despair. We will starting the Green City Farmers' Market next Saturday, May 15th. I look forward to reconnecting with our Chicago customers soon.
We have been graced with some amazing warm sunny spring days these past few weeks. The bees have been very busy pollinating our fruit, and if all goes well, we're expecting an excellent berry and tree fruit crop this year. Stay tuned.
Happy Mothers' Day and Happy Spring!
Posted 4/29/2010 9:24pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Greatings cheese lovers and local food advocates:
It is finally here; the first farmers' market of the season. Urbana's Market at the Square will open it's "doors" at 7AM this Saturday May 1st.  We will be there in our usual spot--row 4 on the east end of the Market.  Please don't forget, that day is also the Illinois Marathon, so traffic might be blocked for awhile. I believe you can find out the marathon route by going to the either the Illinois Marathon website or the Urbana Market at the Square website. 
We'll be bringing the following cheeses to the market:
Fresh Chevre (of course)
Angel Food--our gooey brie-like goat milk cheese
Little Bloom on the Prairie
Red Dawn-a soft ripened goat milk cheese dusted in smoked paprika (tastes like barbeque!!)
Ewe Bloom-our soft ripened sheep milk cheese
Krotovina-a lovely delicate pyramid that is half goat milk and half sheep milk separated by a thin layer of vegetable ash.
To tempt you to the market, here is a photo of Red Dawn


For those of you who aren't able to make it to the Urbana Farmers' Market this Saturday, rest assured. You can still purchase our cheese at select locations throughout Champaign-Urbana (Common Ground Food Coop, Strawberry Fields, World Harvest, Schnucks) and Chicago (Pastoral, Marion Street Cheese Market, lots of restaurants and other retail stores including Whole Foods).
Stay tuned for more information about other farmers' markets we'll be doing this year.
Posted 4/22/2010 8:04pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Quick addition to my earlier newsletter: I forgot to mention that we will be selling our cheeses at the last indoor Green City Market at the Peggy Notebart Nature Museum. Saturday April 24th from 8AM to 1PM. The same cheeses will be available as those we have for farm sales. Cesar will be there to greet you.  So, if you can't make it down to Champaign Urbana this weekend, please visit us at the Green City Market. It is still "Cheese Month" at the market. Check out all the artisan cheese producers there. The outdoor Green City Market doesn't start until May 15th, so stock up.
Posted 4/22/2010 7:09pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Farm News
Things were relatively quiet on the farm this week.  No new births, but lots of planting going on. The weather and the soil presented perfect conditions for planting, and we were out there along side our cash grain neighbors (except our tractors and planters are either human size or about one tenth the size of the corn planters).  Aaron, our herdsman, planted a new field with alfalfa and oats as a nurse crop. We're also experimenting with planting sorghum-sudan grass--a very fast growing forage crop--in one of our pasture paddocks this year to help control goat intestinal parasites.  Aaron was busy planting that seed too. Kris, our orchardist, was busy digging holes and planting several dozen new fruit trees. As I write, Wes is out in the last hours of daylight trying to get the last of the cherry trees planted before the rains come tonight. We welcome the rains. Unlike last year, the soil is actually getting dry right now, and all the seed, berries and trees we have planted could use a deep drink right about now.
We're busy in the cheeserie cranking out lots of batches of chevre, bloomy rind cheeses and raw milk cheeses in anticipation of farmers' market season. It is nearly upon us--Urbana's Market at the Square starts one week from this Saturday, May 1st! 
Open House, Sales, Breakfast
SO, farmers' market season means an end to our on farm open houses, sales and breakfasts. This Saturday, April 24th from 9AM to 12 noon is your last chance this year to come out to the farm to enjoy an all local foods breakfast and see the baby goats.  
We will have the following cheeses available for sale:
Fresh Chevre
Little Bloom on the Prairie (our goat milk camembert style cheese)
Angel Food (our goat milk brie--it's gooey as ever!)
Ewe Bloom (our soft-ripened sheep milk cheese)
Don't forget to pick up one of our stylish organic cotton "Community Supported Goat" T-shirts ($15 each).
Both Tomahnous Farm and Blue Moon Farm will be here as well.  Tomahnous is bringing asparagus, chard, rhubarb, lettuce, herbs, spinach, flour & goat milk soap. Blue Moon Farm finally has salad mix! They will also probably be bringing asparagus. They will definitely have Swiss chard, Red Russian kale, White Russian kale, Green kale, Red kale, rapini, and radishes.


What's For Breakfast you ask patiently?:
  • Raisin Bread French Toast with Spence Farm Maple Syrup
  • Blue Moon Farm Asparagus and Mill Creek Farm Mushroom Strada
  • Hot Buttermilk Biscuits with Butter and Honey
  • Assorted other baked treats
  • Organic Banana Yogurt Smoothie
  • Mexican style goat milk hot chocolate
  • Fair Trade Coffee
For more details about the farm and the breakfasts, visit our website: www.prairiefruits.com
Posted 4/16/2010 12:05pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Apple blossoms

The thing about spring is it's intensity.  Wednesday of this week epitomized intensity.  I started the day ladling chevre and transferring another tank load of milk for making Little Bloom on the Prairie and Angel Food.  In the midst of cheese making, our orchardist, Kris, called me to say that Chippewa ("Chippy as she is known affectionately to many) was in labor and it looked like a breach. I rushed out of the cheeserie, donned my coveralls and ran into the barn to find her on the ground, screaming at the top of her lungs in pain. Indeed, the first kid's tail was sticking out of her back side. I put on my elbow-length OB gloves, squirted on the OB lube and betadine and put my hand inside her to grab the legs. It took awhile to reposition the kid to get both legs out, but as soon as I did, I was able to pull out the first kid-a healthy large boy.  I could feel the head of the next kid as I was repositioning the first, so I waited after the first trauma subsided for a normal delivery. She started to push shortly after the first kid came out, and again started screaming with pain. Something was not right. More betadine and OB lube and back in I went to find the second kid's head twisted completely backwards and the front legs oriented backwards as well. This is a challenging position to correct, and I tried to maneuver the head towards the exit to no avail. Every time I tried, Chippy pushed harder down on my hands in contraction.  She was getting exhausted by the minute, so I let her rest before attempt to reposition the kid. After several failed attempts to turn the kids head around, I pushed it all the way back into her uterus. At that moment, Chippy relaxed her contractions, and I was able to pull the head into the proper position.  After a bit more manipulations and a lot more screaming from Chippy, I was finally able to pull the second kid out-another huge boy! The third kid slid out in normal position-another huge boy!  All that drama for three buck kids!!  Poor Chippy was thoroughly wasted from the ordeal, and I milked her out practically lying down.  I am happy to report that all three kids and mother are doing just fine.

No time to waste, after serving as midwife, I cleaned myself up (I was totally covered in birth fluid) and dashed back into the cheeserie to cut the curd and ladle it into Little Bloom molds.  Then, it was time to get the Chicago cheese orders together to take to Tiny Greens to take up in their veggie-oil powered refrigerated truck.  Back home I drove to get milk ready to feed the kids.  As the sun descended in the early evening sky, I took in the flowering fruit trees and the smell of growing green grass. A typical day comes to an end.


So, you want to know what's for breakfast this Saturday, April 17th and what cheeses we have for you for sale, right?

Breakfast Offerings

  • Moore Family Farm Cornmeal Johnny Cakes with Spence Farm Maple Syrup
  • Tomahnous Farm fresh egg, chevre, Blue Moon Farm spinach bagel sandwich
  • Blue Moon Farm hash browned potatoes
  • Assorted scones and coffee cakes
  • Goat Milk "Cajeta" and Apple Lassi (an Indian-style yogurt drink)
  • Goat milk hot chocolate
  • Fair trade Coffee

Cheese Offerings
Chevre-plain, herbed, cracked pepper
Our first of the season "Little Bloom on the Prairie" they are a bit young, but very enjoyable
Moonglo--our raw milk tomme made last December. This is the last of the Moonglo until June, so get some while limited supplies last. 

Tomahnous Farm will be here with their greens, shitake mushrooms, eggs and other early spring veggies. Blue Moon Farm will not be here this week (they're selling pre-orders behind the Coop), but they will return next Saturday.


Next Saturday, April 24th is our last farm open-house of the season, so if you haven't had a chance to come out to see the baby goats, eat a fabulous local food breakfast or buy some great early season local foods, the time is NOW. 

For more information about the breakfasts, etc. visit our website: www.prairiefruits.com under "The Experience".  You'll find information about hours, NO need for reservations, price ranges, etc.
We look forward to seeing you here.



Posted 4/8/2010 8:42pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Farm News
Apricot trees in bloom
The apricots bloomed this week--maybe this will be the year we actually get some fruit!
This week
, we started weaning our oldest crop of kids. It's hard to believe they are already six weeks old, eating lots of grain and hay and weighing over 20 pounds!! They still behave like kids, though, and the little ones are still there to remind me of how small they are when they're born.  You can come visit them this Saturday and every Saturday morning through the end of April during our Open House--9AM to 12 Noon.
For those of you who have signed up for our Community Supported Goat (CSG) Program, I wanted to let you know that those folks who haven't received their certificate of support (with a picture of your goat) and an organic cotton CSG T-shirt, don't despair. I will be sending those out next week. Things have been a bit hectic here on the farm over the past month or so, and I promise you will "get your goat" very soon.  All CSG members will receive their first shipment or delivery of cheese along with an update about your goat in early May. 
Farmers Market Items
This week, we'll have our on-farm sales AND we'll be attending the indoor Green City Market at the Peggy Notebart Nature Museum (Cannon Drive just north of Fullerton). The hours for the indoor Green City Market are 8AM to 1PM. April is "Celebrate Cheese" month at the Green City Market, so be sure to stop by and patronize all the cheese vendors on Saturday April 10th and April 24th. There will be chef demos crafting recipes with cheeses from several of the cheese vendors at the market.
What do we have for you this Saturday?
  • Chevre (of course)--it's still as light, creamy and lemony as a spring morning
  • Ewe Bloom-we debuted our first batch of Ewe Bloom during our on-farm sales last Saturday, and it was a big hit.  It is tart, a bit yeasty, gooey on the edges and creamy on the inside.  Enjoy with some crusty bread and fruit preserves
  • Moonglo--we made a couple of very late lactation batches of Moonglo in late December, and they are now ripe and ready to enjoy.
  • Huckleberry Blue-very limited quantities of our nutty, raw goat milk blue. 
If you're coming to the farm, Blue Moon Farm will be here with their array of spring greens such as kales, spinach, chard, etc.  Tomahnous Farm will be here too with her eggs (better get here early if you want some, because we're using a lot of them in our breakfasts), gorgeous Swiss Chard, spring onions and Shitake mushrooms.
What's For Breakfast this Saturday
bread from the oven
  • Tomahnous Farm egg and chard strada made with Alisa's homemade wholewheat bread
  • House made buttermilk buscuits and gravy with Triple S Farm sausage
  • Jarrell family walnut strusel coffee cake
  • Meyer lemon-poppy seed coffee cake
  • Mexican style goat milk hot chocolate
  • Fair Trade Coffee
Breakfast, as always, is  first-come-first-served-NO RESERVATIONS REQUIRED-from 9AM to 12 noon.
The weather should be gorgeous on Saturday. We look forward to seeing you.