News

Welcome to Leslie's Blog.
Posted 6/19/2009 1:07pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
 This week's transformation from spring to summer was abrupt.  Last night's air was so still,  hot and thick, it reminded me of a mid July evening. Fireflies are dazzling us with their annual light show over the emerging corn and soybean fields as well as our alfalfa field. The "girls" are out on pasture every day, except during torrential downpours, and their milk reflects the pasture rich diet they are consuming.  This means that there are a lot more "critters" in their milk that result in greater diversity of molds and bacteria growing on the cheeses, especially our raw milk cheeses. Some of you may have noticed that the rind of the Roxanne is very different in color than it was a month ago.  This too is related to the Amish dairy sheep spending more of their time grazing on pastures and eating a lot less hay.  Check out the photo of Roxanne, the cheese, on our website (under "Our cheeses") to see the contrasting rinds. 

Market offerings for this Saturday
We will be doing three farmers' markets this Saturday, June 20th: Urbana, Greeen City Market and Oak Park. 
We have a good supply of:
Chevre
Ewe Bloom
Little Bloom on the Prairie

We have a limited supply of:
Prairie Blazing Star Banon--our "all Illinois" version of a provencal banon-soft ripened chevre wrapped in a sycamore leaf from our farm that has been soaked in an IL chambourcin wine.  Beautiful presentation,  and delicate slightly enolic flavor on the cheese.
Roxanne

Angel Food

Next week:
Krotovina returns along with our end of the month offering of whole goat milk ricotta
Moonglo and Roxanne will return in early July. 

Farm Dinners
All but the "Illinois Fish Tale" Dinner are now sold out.  We do receive cancellations, so you can send me an email to be put on a waiting list if you have your eye on a particular dinner. Just let me know how many seats you would like to have should spots open up.
Posted 6/11/2009 5:12pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Everett Lee with Hershey, his first born offspring and Leslie, November 2004
Everett Lee
A tribute to Everett Lee

Everett Lee, our first buck and one of the first four goats we purchased to start our herd back in 2004, passed away today. He was peacefully put to sleep following a long and mysterious illness.  Everett ("Evy" as we called him affectionately), was one of the sweetest bucks you can imagine.  Extremely affectionate, always hankering for a head scratch and a neck rub, he did not live up to the stereotype of an ornery & cantankerous buck (except in breeding season when he took on his male goat "aroma" and procreation single-mindedness).  He produced some very fine offspring indeed, and his heritage lives on in our herd, despite our sadness over his loss. 

On a happier note, Dawn, the matriarch of our herd (a spry nine years old and counting) kidded last night with a beautiful little doe. She is the last doe to kid this year (FINALLY and THANKFULLY).  The doeling looks exactly like her momma--reddish brown with a white saddle.  Mother and baby are doing very well.

Other Farm News: Fruits, Farm Dinners, Cheese Happenings
The raspberries and currants are starting to ripen, and as soon as we can get the weeds under control, we will begin to offer U-pick. Stay tuned for notices.
Our next farm dinner "A Vegetarian Feast" will be held this Saturday.  You can view the menu on our website under "Dinners on the Farm" "Buy Dinners." We are defying the weather forcast, and setting up for outdoor dining. Let's hope the weathermen will be as wrong as they have been these past fews days at predicting rain storms in Champaign County. 
The menu for the "Meditteranean Feast on the Farm Dinner" scheduled for Sunday, June28th is now on the website as well. 
You can now find our cheeses at a number of Whole Foods Stores in the greater Chicagoland area, thanks to Natural Direct.  They are helping us get our cheeses into a wider geographical area. 

What we're bringing to the farmers' markets this week
This week we will be attending four farmers' markets: Urbana, Green City Market, Oak Park and 61st Street Market.
We'll be bringing the following cheeses:
Fresh Chevre--plain, herbs de Provence and cracked black peppercorn
Mouton Frais (this is fresh sheep milk cheese, similar in texture to our fresh chevre but with a bit more tang and creamy mouthfeel)
Little Bloom on the Prairie--we will be running a special on this cheese over the next couple of weeks.  The rind of the most recent batches of this cheese has some wild blue molds on it, so it does not have the snow white appearance you have come to expect with this cheese. Rest assured, the taste is NOT compromised; just the aesthetics. 
Ewe Bloom--our lucious soft-ripened sheep milk cheese
Roxanne--our raw sheep milk brebis style cheese; it has developed quite a following
Caprino Romano--NEW THIS WEEK, LIMITED AVAILABILITY ; this raw goat milk cheese has been aging patiently for over six months and it is finally ready for primetime; sharp with finish that bites you back, it is really delicious. Wonderful for shaving or grating over some fresh pasta. We only made one batch last fall; so when it's gone, it probably won't be back until next year.  We will have Pecorino Romano (sheep's milk romano) available in August, so stay tuned for that one. 

We expect to have Angel Food and Krotovina back in the line up in another couple of weeks. 
As always, thank you for your patronage.
Posted 6/5/2009 10:53am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Farm News and Notes
We have a couple of late births this week.  Both Chippewa and Coco Chenel kidded with twin doe kids (thankfully!!). All are healthy.  Since we thought we we were done with kidding season, we had our dry does out in the pasture.  That didn't deter Chippewa; she kidded out in the pasture last Sunday afternoon without any fanfare.  It's amazing how quickly you forget how adorable a little 6 pound kid can be. 

We're finally getting out to tend to the orchard and berries. The wet weather has created a weed extravanganza, but little by little we are beating them back. A number of folks have called inquiring about u-pick fruit. Right now we don't have any berries ready for u-pick. Our strawberry beds are new this year, so we really don't have many strawberries. We should have currants-red, black and white in another 2-3 weeks and rasberries by the end of June.  I will send out a notice about fruit availability and our hours for u-pick as soon as we have ripe fruits. Keep checking the website under fruits or "what's new."

Our vegetable garden is mostly planted, and despite the rain and rabbit tomato and pepper seedling nightly beheadings. The plants are growing, and we are confident we will begin to have some vegetables for our farm dinners. 

Speaking of farm dinners, check out the latest issue of Bon Apetit Magazine (the July 2009 issue). There is a page about farm dinners across the country, and we are IN IT!!  Our first farm dinner "Celebrate Spring" was a huge success.  We dined inside the somewhat refurbished barn (very rustic, but all enjoyed).  The meal was exquisite (as we would expect from Alisa DeMarco and her crew) and folks enjoyed the goats and each other.  The next dinner is a "Vegetarian Feast," and the menu will be posted sometime this weekend.   

Farmers' Market Offerings
This week we will doing three farmers' markets: Urbana, Green City Market and Oak Park.  We will be bringing the following cheeses:
Fresh Chevre (of course): plain, herbs de Provence and cracked black peppercorn
Little Bloom on the Prairie (very limited supply, so come early if you want some)
Krotovina (the lovely little pyramid with half sheep and half goat milk separated by an ash layer)
Roxanne (our raw sheep milk brebis style cheese)

We expect to have Angel Food and Ewe Bloom back in the repertoire in the next week or two.  Expect some other cheese debuts in the coming weeks too.
I have updated the "Available Cheeses" page of our website, so check out the photos of Krotovina, Ewe Bloom and Roxanne.

Posted 5/29/2009 12:22pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Last week you probably noticed my absence from both cyberspace and marketplace.  Well, I was in southern Argentina (Patagonia) giving presentations about composting to folks from all over Argentina (a vestige of my former life as a professor of soil science and organic matter management). The marvels of overnight travel transported me from spring to fall in less than 24 hours.  A whirlwind trip, but very worthwhile.

asparagus, chive and johnny jumpupsPatagonian fall colors

I returned home earlier this week, back to full steam cheese making and readying the farm for our first farm dinner. We will be attending FOUR farmers' markets this week: Urbana, Green City Market, Oak Park and 61st Street (South Side of Chicago). 

This week at the markets you can expect to find:

  • Fresh chevre (plain, herbs de Provence and cracked black peppercorn)
  • Angel Food
  • Krotovina--the new shape is a pyramid with sheep and goat milk layers separated by a thin layer of ash.
  • Ewe Bloom
  • Fresh whole goat's milk ricotta

We expect to have more Roxanne in another week or two.  Little Bloom on the Prairie takes a hiatus this week, but will be back next week. Our first batch of Moonglo for the 2009 season should be ready by mid June. 

Dinners on the farm update

We host our first farm dinner of the season on Saturday, May 30th. The weather is uncertain, so most likely we will be dining inside the barn.  For those of you who have reservations, we look forward to seeing you at the farm around 4PM. We will have hors de Oeuvres waiting for you upon your arrival. If you haven't already done so, check out the menu on our website--"Dinners on the Farm" then "Buy Dinners" then go to "May 30th: Celebrate Spring" for details. 

The next two dinners are sold out, but we still have spaces available for several of the other dinners of the season.  Feel free to email us if you have any questions.

As always, thank you for your patronage.

Posted 5/16/2009 2:24pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

What's new for the farmers' markets this week

We're falling into our summer routine of making lots of cheese for farmers' markets. The response at the last two farmers' markets--both in Urbana and at the Green City Market-- have been tremendous. We were pretty much sold out at both markets by 11AM!! Thank you all for your support.  We will continue our labors so that we have more cheeses available for you each week. 

This week, we will be attending THREE farmers' markets: Urbana, Green City Market and the 61st Street Market in Chicago's southside University of Chicago neighborhood.

We will be bringing the following cheeses:

Fresh Chevre (of course): plain, herbs de Provence and cracked black peppercorn

Krotovina: a soft ripened cheese with an ash layer through the middle. New this year: we are making the cheese with a half layer of sheep milk and a half layer of goat milk. It will be sold in rounds (or half rounds) this week, but in the future the cheese will be the shape of a truncated pyramid. This cheese is bit firmer and more subtle in flavor than say the Ewe Bloom or Little Bloom on the Prairie, but it definitely has its following.

Roxanne: Introducing a new raw sheep milk cheese made in the style of a Pyrannees brebis.  It has a natural ivory colored rind (hence the name Roxanne, because it looks like our cross-bred doe Roxy) and buttery gouda-like interior. It has aged for about two months. Try a wedge and let us know what you think.

Roxanne: A Nubian X La Mancha doe

The Little Bloom on the Prairie, Angel Food (except for Urbana Market) and Ewe Bloom are not available until next week.

Expect our fresh, whole-milk ricotta the last weekend in May

Moonglo (our raw goat milk, washed rind tomme) will be coming back in mid-June.

 

Farm Dinners

Due to a last minute cancellation, we now have six openings for the first dinner on the farm "A Celebration of Spring."  You can make your reservations on line through the website: www.prairiefruits.com  Just go to the section "Dinners on the Farm" and then click on "Buy Dinners" and you will see each of the dinners listed. We still have plenty of openings for many of the other dinners, so feel free to take a look at them all and make your reservations now.  They fill up fast!


Prairie Fruits Farm Debuts in Boston/Cambridge MA at Formaggio Kitchen

As a native Bostonian, I am thrilled to announce that the acclaimed Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge MA will now be carrying our cheeses. We sent our first shipment of Ewe Bloom, Little Bloom on the Prairie and Krotovina to them this week. I imagine that the cheeses should be available in their stores this weekend. You might want to call them to make sure.  Please let us know if you were able to find them there, and what you think.

Posted 5/8/2009 11:43am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Greetings From Prairie Fruits Farm

Farmers' Market season is here.  This Saturday, May 9th, we will be attending two markets: Urbana's Market at the Square and Chicago's Green City Market.  The following Saturday will be adding the 61st Market on Chicago's South Side, and then May 23rd, we will add the Oak Park Farmers' Market, making a grand total of FOUR farmers' markets this year. We have wonderful, dedicated and cheese-savy people lined up to help us sell our products at the Chicago markets this year. All of them have been to our farm so they know first hand how we manage our goats and our land and how we make our small-batch, hand-crafted cheeses.

We will have the following cheeses available this weekend--think Mothers' Day presents:

Fresh Chevre: Plain, Herbs de Provence Blend, Cracked Peppercorn blend

Angel Food: Our soft-ripened brie style--makes a great grilled cheese sandwich (especially on a brioche type bread)--decadent mothers' day brunch material

Little Bloom on the Prairie: Our soft-ripened goat milk camembert style--firm and creamy; pare it with some fresh strawberries (if you can find some locally) or fruit preserves.

Ewe Bloom: our soft-ripened sheep milk cheese; sharp and tangy but delicious

Krotovina: the soft-ripened cheese with the ash layer in the middle--a show-stopper on the cheese plate.

News from the Farm

I am happy to report that Peppermint Pattie has recovered fully. She is running with the herd in the pastures and producing some great milk.  We still have a few pregnant does yet to kid, but no action to report on this week.  We finally were able to get a few things planted in the garden-peas, beats, parsnips, beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes and of course flowers.  The landscape is awash in yellow and white dandelion heads--we don't care, because the bees love to forage on them. 

We look forward to seeing you tomorrow at the markets.

 

Posted 4/23/2009 8:31am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Spring Drama of the week

We tilled up our vegetable beds last weekend, inspired by the dry warm weather and anxious to plant some early season crops for our first farm dinners, only to be plunged back into another round of cold, wet, slap-in-the-face days. This weekend, we will approach summer temperatures.  I have come to expect this weather rollercoaster here in central Illinois in the spring.  We plan to plant strawberries and spring greens this weekend if the weather holds.

Kidding season is still upon us, and this week we experienced the highs and lows of birthing. On Tuesday afternoon, Larrissa, one of our independent minded La Mancha does, kidded two beautiful cross bred doe kids.  True to her spirit, she had a kid’s hooves hanging out her backside while head butting one of her compatriots. At the same time, Peppermint Pattie, one of our smaller unassuming and gentle Nubian does, looked liked she was going into labor. We kept observing her and she wasn’t acting too out of sorts. We continued about our chores—milking, feeding the kids, checking on cheese and came back a couple of hours later to find her water had broken and she was trying to push but nothing was coming out. We have seen this scenario a lot—it usually means that the kid is breach or positioned in such a way that it needs some human assistance to be delivered. I put on the OB gloves, doused my hands with betadine solution and lubricant and slowly tried to work my hand inside Peppermint. She was barely dilated, and I could only get a few fingers in there initially. I felt a little tail, and knew for sure that the kid was breach. I massaged her cervix and finally I was able to get my whole hand inside her uterus.  I could feel a hip, but not much else. It seemed like the kid was both upside down and breach or on its side. I tried to manipulate the kid inside the womb, but it became clear it was huge. Aaron, our herdsman, tried to go in there and help get a leg out. No luck. 

After trying to get this kid out of her for over an hour, we finally called the University of Illinois Vet Clinic.  They told us to bring her in if we could. Amazingly, she was able to walk to the truck, and Wes and Aaron hoisted her onto the back of the truck, quickly covered in a bed of straw. She stood the whole ride down Lincoln Avenue to clinic. Thankfully, it is only about 10-15 minutes drive.  Upon arrival, the vet residents tried to remove the kid without having to do the emergency cesarean section they had planned. Miraculously, the doctor was able to get two feet out and began to pull. No movement. At that point, it was clear that the kid was already dead and apparently had been dead for a long time (over 12 hours).  After another 30 minutes of trying to remove the kid and Peppermint Pattie getting weaker by the minute, we decided to go forward with the C-section.  I couldn’t watch the procedure, but once they opened her up, they found a gigantic male kid that probably weighed over nine pounds. It didn’t look normal either—head and shoulders were proportionally much larger than the back half of his body.  There were some complications with her uterus, but they stitched her back up about 11PM and she started to come out of the anesthesia shortly thereafter.  I am happy to report that she is recovering well, and we to plan to bring her home from the vet school this afternoon.  You can visit her this Saturday in the little “recovery” ward we will create for her.

 Farm Open House Sales and Breakfast Menu

 This Saturday (April 25th), we will be hosting our FINAL spring open house, on-farm sale and farm breakfast.  Weather is expected to be sunny and 80 degrees!! As usual, we will open from 9AM to 12 noon.  We will have the following cheeses for you to taste and purchase:

  • Fresh Chevre-plain, herbs de Provence and cracked black peppercorn
  • Ewe Bloom (soft ripened sheep milk cheese)
  • Angel Food (our goat milk brie style cheese-its 2009 debut)
  • Moonglo (our raw goat milk, washed rind tomme—the last batch until June)
  • Huckleberry’s Blue (our raw goat milk blue cheese-sweet and mild blue flavor)

 The other farmers will be here as well including Blue Moon Farm, Tomahnous Farm, Seven Sisters Farm hand spun wool and Stewart’s Artisan Breads and Pastries. We will also have ramps for sale from Spence Farm-the last of the season

 Blue Moon Farm will have limited spinach, lettuce, Swiss chard and kale.

Tomahnous Farm will have eggs, lots of shitake mushrooms, herbs, flour, very limited asparagus and hand crafted goat milk soap.

 Stewart’s Artisan Breads and Pastries will be bringing his usual assortment of breads, bagels, bagel bites, granola and granola bars along with his delicious potato dinner rolls.

Farm Fresh Breakfast will be served from 9AM to 12 noon as well.  This week’s menu pulls out all the stops and includes:

  • French Toast Bread Pudding with Maple and Illinois Pecan Glaze
  • Spence Farm Ramps and Three Sisters Farm Grits “Cake” with Tomahnous Farm Poached Egg and Hollandaise Sauce
  • Triple S Farms Mini-link Sausages
  • Alisa DeMarco’s Red Pepper Jelly, Prairie Fruits Farm Moonglo and Herb SconeS
  • Jarrell Family Plum and Walnut Scones
  • Goat Milk Masala Chai
  • Fair Trade Coffee

We look forward to seeing you here this Saturday.  This is the last Saturday that we will be hosting farm open house, farm breakfasts and on farm sales since the Urbana Farmers’ Market season starts next Saturday May 2nd. If you haven’t had a chance to come out to visit the farm and enjoy a delicious local breakfast, now is the time. As always, thank you for your support and patronage.

 

 

Posted 4/16/2009 5:48pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Spring is finally here. The goats went out to the pasture for the first time since last fall. Being creatures of habit, loathsome to change yet in serious need of a barn break out, they immediately barged out of the barn and headed for the outdoors. As soon as the first few does’ feet touched mud, they did a complete about face and headed back for the barn.  We turned them around, coaxed them with a little grain and eventually, they discovered the lush green grass of the pasture awaiting them. In a few days, if the weather stays as beautiful as it is today, it will be hard to get them to come back into the barn.  Such is the mindset of the goats at Prairie Fruits Farm.

This week, Snickerdoodle, one of the first three does we purchased back in 2004, kidded with quadruplets.  She had three bucks and a one gorgeous black beauty doe. All are doing fine.  Our does continue to kid through the end of April and probably into early May.  Kidding season is both wonderous and anxiety provoking. I will be happy when they have all kidded, and we know that all mothers and kids are healthy. 

This Saturday (April 18th), we will be hosting another open house, on-farm sale and farm breakfast.  For those of you who live in Chicago and can’t make it down to the farm, we will be sampling and selling our cheese at Chicago’s Green City Market at the Peggy Notebart Nature Museum.  This is the last Saturday at the Nature Museum for us. Our next foray to Chicago will be Saturday May 9th for the first Saturday outdoor Green City Market in Lincoln Square Park.  Stay tuned for a notice about the cheeses we will be bringing to the outdoor market.

The weather guys on public radio promise ideal warm spring weather for an outing to the farm this Saturday.  As usual, we will open from 9AM to 12 noon.  We will have the following cheeses for you to taste and purchase:

  • Fresh Chevre-plain, herbs de Provence and cracked black peppercorn
  • Ewe Bloom (soft ripened sheep milk cheese)
  • Moonglo (our raw goat milk, washed rind tomme—the last batch until June)
  • Huckleberry’s Blue (our raw goat milk blue cheese-sweet and mild blue flavor)

 The other farmers will be here as well including Blue Moon Farm, Tomahnous Farm, Seven Sisters Farm hand spun wool and Stewart’s Artisan Breads and Pastries. We will also have ramps for sale from Spence Farm

 Blue Moon Farm will have spinach, lettuce, some Swiss Chard and green onions.

Tomahnous Farm will have eggs, shitake mushrooms, herbs, flour and hand crafted goat milk soap.

Stewart’s Artisan Breads and Pastries will be bringing his usual assortment of breads, bagels, bagel bites, granola and granola bars along with his delicious potato dinner rolls.

 

Farm Fresh Breakfast will be served from 9AM to 12 noon as well.  This week’s menu includes:

  • Triple S Farm Bacon and Prairie Fruits Farm Cheese and Herb Strada
  • Spence Farm Ramp, Blue Moon Farm Spinach and Prairie Fruits Farm Cheese Strada
  • Prairie Fruits Farm Peach and Cheese Streusel Coffee Cake
  • Jarrell Family Farm Plum Streusel Coffee Cake
  • Peach and Yogurt Lassi
  • Fair Trade Coffee
  • Goat Milk spiced Hot Chocolate 

 Traffic flow went very smoothly last week with our new system of multiple checkout stations and a single spot for ordering your breakfasts.  We look forward to seeing you here this Saturday.  This is the second to last Saturday that we will be hosting farm open house, farm breakfasts and on farm sales. Once the farmers’ market season starts on May 2nd, we will be putting our efforts into selling at the farmers’ markets here in Urbana and Chicago. So, if you've been putting off a visit to the farm, now is the time!

As always, thank you for your support and patronage.

Posted 4/10/2009 4:20pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Despite what the weatherman says, our plants and our goats say "IT IS SPRING HERE at Prairie Fruits Farm."

Millie, one of the first Nubian does born here, just delivered triplets.  The first kid to come out was breach, so I had to assist her, but once the first little bugger was out, she delivered two more gigantic kids--a beautiful doeling and a nearly 9 lb. buckling.  Mother and triplets are doing fine.

Come see them and all of the other new arrivals this Saturday (that's tomorrow!) April 11th from 9AM to 12 noon. 

We will be offering tasting and sales of our cheeses as well as products from several other local producers including Blue Moon Farm, Tomahnous Farm, Stewart's Artisan Breads and Pastries and Seven Sisters Farm.

We will have our fresh chevre, Ewe Bloom, Moonglo and Huckleberry's Blue.

Blue Moon Farm will have spinach, kale, arugula and mixed spring greens.

Tomahnous Farm will be bringing pastured eggs, shitake mushrooms, organic whole wheat flour, swiss chard and fresh herbs.

Stewart's Artisan Breads will have his usual assortment of hearty and rustic breads, bagels, granola and granola bars (these are highly addictive, so buyer beware!). Special for Easter: potato dinner rolls.

Seven Sisters Farm will have their gorgeous hand-spun yarn for sale as well.

We will also be offering fresh and local farm breakfast including:

  • Alisa DeMarco's Italian "Easter Pie" with Prairie Fruits Farm Eggs (our newest feathered girls have started laying cute little pullet eggs) and ricotta cheese and Blue Moon Farm Spinach
  • Tomahnous Farm egg and Stewart's Bagel sandwich with Prairie Fruits Farm Chevre
  • Prairie Fruits Farm Peach Streusel Coffee Cake
  • Blue Moon Farm Green Mountain Potato Hash Browns
  • Triple S Farms bacon and sausage
  • Fair trade coffee, spiced hot chocolate featuring Prairie Fruits Farm Goat Milk and mint tea.

We have been overwhelmed and overjoyed with the response to our open house and farm breakfasts. We appreciate everyone's patience as we learn how to get food out to you in a timely manner. This week, we'll be making substantial improvements in traffic flow so that you don't have to wait too long to shop or to receive your breakfast. We will have a separate line just to take and deliver breakfast orders.  Stewart Pequinot and Lisa Haynes will be here to help sell their products, and Leslie will focus on sampling and selling Prairie Fruits Farm Cheese.

The weather forecast sounds very promising, so we hope you will come out to marvel at the goats, do a little local food shopping and enjoy a farm fresh breakfast. 

As always, thank you for your patronage.

 

Posted 4/2/2009 2:08pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Greetings from Prairie Fruits Farm

Spring is forcing its way upon us, in spite of roller coaster temperatures and last Sunday’s surprise snow. Flaming red early tulips have opened as have the daffodils.  At last, the ravishingly hungry bees have something to forage on.  Our alfalfa field is beginning to green up and the fruit tree buds are swollen with the hope of future fruits.  We now have 24 does freshened (delivered their babies and started producing milk) which means that at last we have enough goat milk to start making goat cheese.

We made our first batch of fresh chevre this week, and it is as rich and creamy as I remember early lactation milk chevre tasting. We will have fresh chevre for sale this Saturday as well as our sheep milk equivalent: “mouton frais.” The repertoire of cheeses is beginning to build with the addition of “Ewe Bloom”, a soft-ripened sheep milk cheese, Huckleberry’s Blue (our goat milk blue) and Moonglo (that wonderfully pungent washed rind goat tomme).  We will have all of these cheeses for sampling and for purchase.

Last Sunday, we ventured north to Fairbury to participate in Spence Farm’s annual “ramp dig.” Every year, they invite chefs from Chicago and Champaign-Urbana to come dig ramps (wild leeks native to their woodland) and then donate the ramps to The Land Connection’s Ramp Fest—a fundraiser for this wonderful non-profit organization (www.thelandconnection.org).  We went to help dig ramps and partake of the fantastic local food meal prepared by the chefs and fellow ramp diggers. The snow covered trees and woodland floor did not deter the ramps from pushing their heads towards the sky.  Among about 30 diggers, we harvested several hundred pounds.  We were able to take some of those ramps back to our farm and wash them so that we could offer them to our farm customers this Saturday.  As far as we know, we are the only retail outlet for Spence Farm’s ramps in Champaign Urbana.  We will continue to offer them to you from now until the season ends (probably the end of April). 

In addition to our cheese and Spence Farm Ramps,

Tomahnous Farm will be bringing a very limited amount of shiitake mushrooms, fresh herbs (lovage, chives, mint, oregano), organic swiss chard, organic whole wheat pastry & bread flours, pastured chicken eggs.

Blue Moon Farm will have organic kale, spinach, and some mixed greens that have arugula, tatsoi, kale, mizuna and red mustard in it.

Stewart’s Artisan Breads and Pastries will be bringing: Sourdough breads:  Craisin/pecan, Potato, Cinnamon Swirl, Rye, Honey Wheat, Olive/Rosemary, Whole Wheat Multigrain, Raisin w/ Cinnamon Swirl, Walnut/Fig, and Tomato; Bagels:  Plain, Sesame, Poppy Seed, Cinnamon/Raisin, Honey wheat, Salt, and Egg; Bagel Bites:  Plain, Blueberry, Craisin; Biscotti, Granola and Granola Bars.

Seven Sisters Farm will continue to offer their beautiful, hand-spun natural yarn for sale. 

AND YES, we will be offering our down on the farm breakfast again featuring all local foods:

  • Triple S Farms Ham and Tomahnous Farm Eggs on a Goat Buttermilk Biscuit with Blue Moon Farm Hash Browns
  • Spence Farm Ramps, Prairie Fruits Farm Chevre and Sundried Tomato Quiche
  • Jarrell Family Dried Plum and Walnut Coffee Cake
  • Prairie Fruits Farm Peach Lassi (a sweet-tart yogurt beverage)
  • Fair Trade Coffee and Mint Tea will also be available

For those of you who came out last Saturday to our first attempt at serving breakfast to order, we thank you for your patience as we scrambled to get the orders out.  We were truly overwhelmed by the number of people who came out to the farm on such a cold blustery March day.  We learned a lot from this experience, and I am happy to report that we will be much better organized for this Saturday’s breakfast sales, and guarantee that you won’t have to wait very long (or at all) to be served. Bring on the crowds!! The weather is supposed to be gorgeous.

As always, there are baby goats to adore and pregnant does to console. 

We look forward to seeing you here on Saturday, April 4th from 9AM to 12 noon.

Again, for those of you who haven’t been here before, you can find directions to the farm on our website under “Interact” tab.

 

Chicago residents who won’t be able to come down to the farm this Saturday; no worries. We will be attending the Green City Market in the Peggy Notebart Nature Museum on Saturday, April 4th from 8AM to 1PM.  We will be bringing our fresh chevre (plain, herbed and cracked pepper), mouton frais, Ewe Bloom, Moonglo and Huckleberry Blue.  We look forward to seeing our Chicago customers.  As always, thanks for your patronage.

Finally, reservations for our Dinners on the Farm are filling up fast, so if there's one that caught your fancy, I recommend you go ahead and make your reservation now. If you encounter any problems, don't hesitate to email me and I can try to help.