Welcome to Leslie's Blog.
Posted 5/5/2011 10:10pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Lessons from the farm and creamery this week
It's hard to fathom that something so small that it isn't even a true cell can reak such havoc on cheese. A brief lesson in cheese making for the uninitiated:  Cheese is a living being. Its form is born of the action of microbes--lactic acid producing bacteria to be specific. They are the critters who get the whole process rolling. They "hit" the milk as a freeze-dried culture (a cocktail of different strains of microbes), and as they rehydrate into this warm sweet medium, they "realize" that they are surrounded by a sea of readily available food: lactose, or milk sugar.  They start chowing down on all this lactose and produce lactic acid as a by-product, thereby acidifying the milk into cheese.  The result (with help from some other important elements like milk proteins, calcium and rennet, an enzyme) is that their ravenous appetite for lactose converts fluid milk to a semi-solid state we call "curds."  Yes, little miss muffet was the beneficiary of microbial fermentation--eating her curds and whey. 
So, what happens when something comes along to stop these lactose-eating bacteria in their tracks??? No lactic acid, no acidification and the cheese curd dies.  Well, this started happening to us this week. First a batch of cheese barely acidified, then no acid production, then a third batch of dead curd. Desperate for an explanation (and getting increasingly tired of feeding this curd to the chickens), we tried to solve this mystery by re-tracing our steps through the entire process--collection of the milk (any problems there, anything strange that the goats might have eaten?), did we add all the cultures, did something strange get into the cheese vat?  We consulted with the cheese culture experts and slowly a pattern emerged that pointed to the most likely culprit: bacteriophage. Bacteriophage is like a virus and it attacks very specific strains of bacteria and renders them useless.  For those of you thinking, "oh my, will I get this virus if I eat Prairie Fruits Farm cheese???," rest assured, the bacteriophage is so specific that it only attacts very specific strains of the lactic acid producing bacteria.  Once the pieces of the mystery started to fall into place, we took action immediately. We switched our cultures and things seem to be working ok. We're still taking long deliberate breaths as we watch the cheeses come together in the vat and on the drain tables, but the good news is that WE WILL HAVE CHEESE FOR EVERYONE.  THE CHEESE LIVES, LONG LIVE THE CHEESE! The moral of the story: respect your microbes and the even smaller creatures that can take them down.
First Farmers' Markets of the Season This Saturday, May 7th
Farmers' Market season is finally upon us.  We're gearing up for two markets this Saturday: Urbana's Market at the Square and Chicago's Green City Market.  We will be in a new spot at the Urbana Farmers' Market--along the north side of the market where the community groups were located in years past. This new location is much closer to electrical outlet and we hope will be an easier spot for patrons to find us.  Don't forget, the Urbana Market runs from 7AM to 12 noon. We won't be doing our farm open house-breakfast anymore this year, so please come visit us at the farmers' market.
For those of you in Chicago, The Green City Market is temporarily moving to a more northerly location in Lincoln Park, at the intersection of Clark and Washington Streets to be precise. The Market and the Park District are renovating the original site so it will be more resistant to bad weather (less muddy).  The market runs from 7AM to 1PM. 
Here's what we're bringing to the markets this week:
  • Plenty of fresh chevre (plain, herbs de Provence and cracked pepper)
  • Angel Food--creamy goat milk brie
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie--our signature goat milk camembert-style cheese
  • Ewe Bloom--robiola like sheep milk cheese
  • Black Sheep--a soft-ripened sheep milk cheese with ash on the rind
Cheese makes a great Mother's Day gift, so why not buy a medley of our cheeses, put them in a nice basket, add some rustic, local artisan bread and jams and let your mother bask in the glory of knowing that she raised you well. 
For those of you in Urbana, Wes will be selling pints of his soon to be famous goat and sheep milk gelato--Sicilian pistacchio, Piemontese hazelnut, chocolate and honey vanilla are some of the flavors that will make their market debut. 
Posted 4/28/2011 10:20pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
This morning, goat death collided with goat birth.  We awoke to find that Anasazi, one of the first group of milking does we purchased when we became a commercial dairy in 2005, had died.  She was a sweet, mild-mannered (that is saying a lot for a Nubian) black beauty of a doe with a great udder.  She provided us with several years of wonderfully high butterfat milk so characteristic of her breed.  I will remember her fondly for her vigorous cud chewing--she chewed with such gusto that she often had a thin veneer of foam around her lips.  She had been recovering from illness, and appeared to be on the mend, so her passing was a shock to us.  As I was coming to grips with her sudden death at 7 in the morning, Ella, one of our yearling does, went into labor.  Instinctively she pushed, and out came a lovely cinnamon-colored doeling.  As I cleaned up the new arrival and milked out Ella's colostrum for her first time, Millie decided to go into labor in the pen next door. We had been awaiting Millie's kidding because she had been successfully artificially inseminated, and we were hoping for a buck.  I gave her some time, and soon it was obvious that she was having trouble delivering. I donned the OB gloves, squirted on the OB lube and betadine and in I went (into her birth canal that is).  I first felt two hooves (the normal delivery position for kids), so I wondered why she was having so much trouble. So I positioned the feet and realized that one was facing forward and the other backward. Then, out came another foot--three feet??? I then realized that there were two kids stuck in the birth canal--one in the correct head forward position and the other one breach. I retrieved the correct one first--a chesnut colored doeling, and then quickly pulled out the breach kid, a large chestnut- colored doeling with splashy grey spots.  Two girls! No buckling, but they are beautiful.  The cycle of life completes itself in a matter of a few hours in the space of our hoop barn. 

I was going to talk about the unceasing rain, the super-saturated soils, the possibility that our flowering fruit trees might not be pollinated because bees won't forage in this wet weather, but goats take precedence.  There is a lot going on in Champaign Urbana this weekend--the Ebert Film Festival, the Marathon, Artists Against Aids--it will be hard for our FINAL FARM OPEN HOUSE-BREAKFAST to compete.  Yes, April 30th is our last breakfast-open house of the season. Because of the marathon, we will extend the hours from 9AM to 12:30PM to give folks who might get trapped in downtown Urbana or Champaign fighting runners a chance to get out here. Or maybe you're a runner wanting a hearty farm breakfast to eat after burning all those calories. Either way, Alisa is pulling out all the stops with a Mexican influenced menu:
  • Huevos Rancheros - Eggs with roasted chili tomato sauce, garlic chive pesto, corn tortillas, cilantro and fresh chevre
  • Yam, potato and sunchoke quesadilla with fresh chevre, fire roasted salsa and fresh crema
  • Corn Muffins with gooseberry chutney
  • Applesauce cake with dried plums
  • Fair trade coffee
  • Either Mexican hot chocolate or herbed ice tea (weather depending)
Cheeses you ask??
We'll have plenty of:
Chevre (plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper)
Angel Food
Little Bloom on the Prairie
Smokin' Little Bloom
(the folks at black dog smoke & ale house in Urbana have graciously allowed us to use their smoker for this cheese).  Wes will not have gelato available this Saturday as he gets ready for the start of the Urbana Farmers' Market next Saturday, May 7th (sorry you gelato fans, you'll have to wait another week).
Blue Moon Farm will be here with lots of salad mix, spinach, kale and other early spring greens. They aren't do any pre-ordering this week, so there will be plenty for all who come to shop.  Lisa Haynes of Tomahnous Farm is actually running the Marathon, so she may or may not be at our market on Saturday (I should say her son, Maxwell).  Rita Glazik may not be here if their ramps are flooded out. 
I will be headed to Chicago on Saturday morning to participate in Pastoral Artisan Cheese Bread and Wine's first 'Food Artisan's Festival.' For those of you who live in Chicago, please come see me at their French Market location from 11AM to 3PM.  We'll be sampling some of our cheeses, and there will be lots of other cheese makers, pickle makers, chocolateirs, etc to meet as well.  Here is the link for more information:

the rain will end..... eventually. in the meantime, eat lots of cheese!

Posted 4/21/2011 9:55pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
ali with mini horse "rowdy"
My niece, Ali, with "Rowdy" the miniature horse who came to visit the farm
Sarah and "Rowdy"
Sarah, our assistant cheesemaker and sous chef with her uncle's mini-horse "Rowdy"

It was tough to convince my sister and my ten-year old niece, Ali, to come visit us this spring from Boston, Mass. The baby goats were enticing, the possibility of limitless chocolate gelato was alluring, BUT the real deal clincher was the cart ride with the miniature horse "Rowdy."  Everyone knows (but me) that the way to win a girl's heart is to get her a horse.  I never knew this growing up in the wilds of Boston.  It worked like a charm on my niece.  She spent the week ladling and packing chevre, making gelato with her uncle Wes, thinning broccoli starts with our horticulturist, Rachel, and even digging ramps in a nearby woodland. 
Ali thinning broccoli rabeAli making gelato

You can enjoy the fruits of her labors this Saturday by buying some delicious cheese, eating some gelato, and enjoying a scrumptious breakfast.  Wes has a limited supply of gelato this week: two versions of chocolate (to purchase as pints) and tastings of three-berry sorbetto, mango sorbetto and moka gelato. 
For cheese, we have a special treat for this holiday weekend:
We also have plenty of fresh chevre in all three flavors: plain, herbs de Provence and cracked pepper
To add some elegance to your easter dinner table, we also have 'Angel Food' Brie and Little Bloom on the Prairie
We will be hosting our second to last FARM OPEN HOUSE this Saturday from 9AM to 12 Noon.  Chef Alisa is preparing a very special menu for the breakfast:

  • PFF Farm Egg with jalepeno chevre, spinach and sorrel on a toasted bagel
  • Easter Pie: Puff pastry stuffed with ricotta and Blue Moon swiss chard
  • Blackberry Raspberry Muffins
  • Maple Oat scones
  • Pecan and Chocolate Biscotti
  • Goat Milk Hot Chocolate
  • Fair Trade Coffee
Tomahnous Farm will be here as well with lots of early spring greens, mushrooms and maybe asparagus (Blue Moon Farm is selling behind the Coop this weekend). Rita Glazik will have a limited supply of ramps for sale.  The recent storm flooded their woodland, so she was only able to dig ramps from the highest ground. 
We will also be attending the Green City Market this Saturday at the Peggy Notebart Nature Museum on Canon Drive in Chicago.  The market runs from 8AM to 1PM. We'll have the same variety of cheeses available for our Chicago customers as those who come to the farm. 

Last but not least, I wanted to let everyone know of a very special event happening in May to raise funds for the "Flatlander Fund."  The Flatlander Fund was created in memory of the late Dan Schreiber, an artisan chocolate maker, to build a community kitchen in Urbana-Champaign. Here's a note we received from one of the organizers of this event:

On Saturday, May 21, a one-of-a-kind soiree will be held at a magnificent 8,000 square foot modern architecture home right here in Champaign-Urbana (and just down the road from your farm!). The Philia dinner (philia is Greek for ‘friendship’) will be filled with a bounty of homemade Greek foods, served in a casual, stroll-about setting at the home of Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis. Guests can mill about the home and property to explore the magnificent architecture (there are no exterior walls, only 94 sliding glass doors offering a breathtaking view of the surrounding lake and woods), take in the wonderful art, and sample a wide array of Greek foods made largely with local ingredients.

 Attached is a PDF version of the invitation (it can also be viewed at You can register for the event at, as well as peruse the evening’s menu and view photos of the Cope-Kalantzis home. It promises to be an unforgettable evening filled with great food, beautiful architecture and art, and outstanding philanthropy! Wes and I plan to attend, and we hope you can join us at the Flatlander Philia dinner on May 21!

Posted 4/13/2011 8:38pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

quince blossoms

For-real magenta pink quince blossoms

black currants in flower

Black Currant Flowers Starting to Open, Bees Hovering Nearby

Angel Food

Angel Food Brie--a bloomy rind cheese

It's happening! Flowers are blooming, white mold ripened cheeses are blooming, and they're predicting temperatures in the mid '30's this weekend. I guess this defines spring in the Midwest.  Our 20+ remaining pregnant does are in a holding pattern right now. Every night I go out to check their udders, and most are still as limp as overcooked pasta.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term "bagging up," it refers to udders filling up with milk; a signal that goat kids are working their way into the birth canal for imminent delivery. It's a mixed blessing, this lull in goat freshening--one the one hand, we're getting a good night's sleep these nights; on the other hand, we're anxious for more milk so we can really ramp up our cheese and gelato production.  We have been able to make a few batches of Little Bloom on the Prairie and Angel Food, our soft-ripened aka bloomy rind cheeses, and they are now ripe for your eating pleasure.  We will have them available this SATURDAY, APRIL 16TH at our farm open house from 9AM to 12 Noon.  We'll also have our fresh as you can get it chevre, and Wes will be serving up goat milk gelato--some new flavors will make their debut, so come taste and buy!

Blue Moon Farm will be back this Saturday with lots of mouthwatering spring greens.  Please go to their website to pre-order to guarantee you get all that you want. Here's a message from them:

"If you've been having trouble placing your order, we hope we've solved the problem. Please try again to guarantee yourself salad mix, arugula and other goodies. However, we are going to bring some extra produce on Saturday in case the problem isn't solved.  Let us know if you get more Server 500 errors. To order, please go to:"

Tomahnous Farm will be here as well. Lisa promises to have very limited quantities of shitake mushrooms and MAYBE even the first asparagus of the season! She'll also have chard, herbs and other spring greens as well as her beautiful goat milk soaps. Come early for the best pickins'.

Glasik Farm will be here again with wild ramps. If you haven't tried them yet, now is your chance. Their season is very short (only a few weeks), and they are fragrant and delicious grilled or sauteed or even pickled.

I know you really want to know what's for breakfast so here goes:

  • Waffles with Prairie Fruits Farm strawberry syrup, honey butter and whipped Kilgus cream
  • Fried Tohmanous Farm Egg on Triple S Farm House-Made Corned-Beef Hash
  • Organic Blackberry Muffins
  • Sticky Buns with dried plums and pecans
  • Goat's Milk Mexican Hot Chocolate
  • Fair Trade Coffee

Chef Alisa seems to be pulling out all the stops this Saturday. There's plenty of food, (her ancestry does not permit her to be stingy), so don't worry if you're having trouble getting out of bed first thing. 


Posted 4/8/2011 10:06am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
t shirt contest
Before you think we have gone completely mad here at Prairie Fruits Farm, dressing our goat kids in baby t-shirts, let me explain.  We noticed that a few of our goat kids were chewing at their vaccination spots, so one of our ingenious vet students suggested we put onesies on them to prevent them from biting themselves raw. Here is the result:
black dog baby goat
No, she's not a walking advertisement for black dog smoke and ale house, but she does look great in her onesie.  The baby goat t-shirt strategy is working. Their vaccination scars are healing nicely.  Given the kids' penchant for chewing on EVERYTHING, it's all we can do to keep their pen mates from chewing on the t-shirts. 
Other news from the farm
Last night's rain has set the stage for a massive bloom explosion on the fruit trees. The buds are swollen, and it seems like all they need is a little warmth from the sun to burst open in pinks, whites and pale yellows.  For those of you who might remember the vibrancy of Kodacrome film, I've noticed a transformation of shades of green on the ground from dull green-brown to kodacrome green (it's so green it almost hurts your eyes to stare at the ground too long).  Rachel and Ben (our horticulture team) are busy planting peas, early season greens. The tomato starts in our makeshift "greenhouse" look like a jungle. 
tomato plant jungle
For those of you who have volunteered for the "crop mob" tomorrow afternoon, THANK YOU (in advance). The weather promises to be quite nice--a great day for picking rocks, indeed.
Your hard labor will be rewarded richly with goat milk gelato!
On to the FARM OPEN HOUSE, breakfast and cheese sales for this SATURDAY
Farm Open House Runs from 9AM to 12 Noon. We'll be serving breakfast, selling cheese and gelato and of course having visits with the goats.  Tomahnous Farm will be here with early season greens, herbs, goat milk soap and other goodies. Rita Glasik will be here selling her beautiful and savory ramps (wild leeks).  Blue Moon Farm won't be here this week (they are selling behind the Common Ground Coop), but they will return next Saturday. 
Here's the menu for tomorrow's breakfast:

  • Strata with fresh baked whole wheat bread, Tomahnous Farm eggs, Blue Moon Farm's spring greens, our own dried tomatoes and fresh chevre
  • Three Sister's Garden oatmeal with dried Michigan cranberries, candied Jarrell walnuts and Kilgus cream
  • Blue Moon Farm Sweet Carrot Muffins
  • Huckleberry Blue Cheese, Jarrell Dried Plum and Walnut Bread
  • Goat-Sheep Milk Yogurt Parfait with Stewart's granola and peach compote
Fresh chevre (plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper)
Moonglo (last batch for awhile)
Huckleberry Blue (also last batch until summer)
FIRST of the SEASON: Ewe Bloom (our soft ripened sheep milk cheese)
Gelato flavors--Wes will surprise you with some new flavors this week--come try and buy

Chicagoans: I will be attending the indoor Green City Market tomorrow (Saturday, April 9th from 8AM to 1PM).  I will be bringing the same repertoire of cheeses as described above--chevre, Moonglo, Huckleberry Blue and Ewe Bloom.  As I haven't been in Chicago for awhile, I look forward to reconnecting with our customers and of course meeting new ones.  I hope to see you all there! Happy Spring.

Posted 3/31/2011 4:48pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Herb Garden at Prairie Fruits Farm
Prairie Fruits Farm in Champaign, IL needs your help! We want to redesign our herb garden this spring, but before we can get started we need to remove the existing gravel paths. We're hoping that a "crop mob" - a large group of agricurious volunteers - will come help us with this task! Potential crop mob dates are either Sat. April 9th or Sat. April 16th, from 12:30 to 3:30 pm. Volunteers should be prepared to spend a few hours picking up rocks by hand or with shovels. At the end of the day, you'll be rewarded with some of Wes' famous, homemade goat-milk gelato. Please contact Rachel at if you're interested in participating.
Posted 3/31/2011 12:00pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
flowering fruit trees
Any day now, we're expecting our fruit trees to burst forth with flowers, so I'm optimistically posting this photo in anticipation.  The bees seem to sense that flowering must be eminent as they are emerging with gusto from their hives. We seem to be over the baby goat birthing explosion with over 50 does freshened (that's the dairy term for having a baby and producing milk again) and almost 115 kids born so far. The kids are getting frisky as the weather warms--lots of vertical leaping going on out in the kid barn. 
This Saturday's farm open house (April 2nd from 9AM to 12 NOON) has lots to report. Blue Moon Farm will be here again as will Tomahnous Farm.  Some of you who came out last weekend may have noticed the appearence of ramps (wild leeks).  Glasik Farm will be here again this weekend selling their ramps in either 1/2 pound or 1 pound bundles. 
Blue Moon Farm has a new pre-ordering system for buying their veggies: Please read their instructions below on how to order. They will take orders until TONIGHT so they can harvest what they need tomorrow:
"Change Is Good!
We've decided to simplify our Winter/Spring sales and use our website, pre-ordering process for both the Lincoln Square, and the Prairie Fruits locations. We hope this will reduce confusion for all parties.
Also, we're going to start putting ALL veggies on the list, saving the first-come first-served extras for veggies that we can't predict harvest quantities or times for. That means, if you want kale, etc, you need to order it.
To sum up: please put in an order for anything you want to buy on Saturday.
This week we decided to do an all lettuce salad mix, as the lettuce needs to be cut, and the arugula, et al, won't be ready until next week. These lettuce leaves are beautiful, healthy, and tender.  You will enjoy.
In addition to lettuce mix, we'll have spinach, kale, chard, parsley, cilantro, and carrots on the order form.

A note about ordering: make sure that after you put in the numbers for what you want to order, you proceed to "Checkout", where it will then ask you for some contact info. You should receive a confirmation email sometime the day you order. If you don't receive it, your order didn't go through.
Ordering will be open from Tuesday morning through Thursday night. Ordering early ensures you get access to the items in lesser quantity such as cilantro and chard.
Finally, feedback and questions are always welcome. You can shoot us an email at, or reply to
See you on sunny Saturday!

What's for Breakfast?
  • Prairie Fruits Farm egg served on creamy chevre grits with Creole Sauce made from last summer's heirloom tomatoes
  • Fresh baked Buttermilk Biscuits with Triple S farms sausage gravy
  • Sunchoke and Blue Moon Potato Fry with Triple S Farms Bacon garnish
  • Stewart's fresh baked, toasted bagel with plain or tomato-lemon chevre
  • Savory sausage, pecorino romano and sun-dried tomato scones
  • Blueberry streusel coffee cake
  • hot chocolate and plenty of fair trade coffee to drink
Don't forget cheese and goat milk gelato
We'll have plenty of fresh chevre, Moonglo and Huckleberry Blue for sale. Wes will be sampling and selling his soon to be famous farmstead gelato in a variety of flavors. We'll have pints to purchase as well as the single serving sizes.
Posted 3/25/2011 12:08pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Crocus are curled up tight

early daffodils
Daffodils are thinking about opening their heads

What a difference a day makes! Just a mere 36 hours ago, we were shedding layers of clothing, tilling up the garden beds, moving plant starts into the greenhouse, toying with the idea of planting the carrots and the beets.  Today, we've put the coveralls and the hooded Carhart jackets back on and resumed worrying about how to keep the goat kids warm and cozy.  Spring is fighting back against this latest cold snap, however. Our early season daffodils and tulips have their flower heads poised ready to open if only the slightest hint of sun or warmth reaches the ground.  The calendar says its spring, so they continue to have faith (as do we).
We received our first batch of sheep milk this week and promptly turned into the first batch of Ewe Bloom. It is aging now, and should be ready in a few weeks.  Our goats continue to give birth and our kid population continues to grow. Every day, we put a little more milk in the bulk tank for cheese production.  We even had enough milk to make our first batches of goat milk gelato!

We know it will feel like winter tomorrow, but we're hoping we can entice you to come to  the farm anyway for our SATURDAY OPEN HOUSE (9AM to 12 NOON).  We've got a lot of special breakfast items to keep you warm, and if you're feeling defiant against the cold, you can even sample some of Wes' gelato.
bucket of eggs
Our new red hen pullets are cranking out the eggs, so what better way to honor them than to cook 'em up.
Here's the breakfast menu we have planned:
  • "Eggs in Purgatory" According to chef Alisa "They're sinful." This dish has farm-fresh eggs poached in last summer's heirloom tomato sauce topped with shaved pecorino romano cheese and served with Stewart's whole wheat toast.
  • Stewart's cinnamon raisin french toast "bread pudding" with Spence Farm maple syrup
  • House made goat-sheep milk yogurt parfaits with peach compote and Stewart's granola
  • Michigan blueberry streusel coffee cake
  • Side of Triple S Farms breakfast sausages
  • Warm beverages: fair trade "love buzz" coffee and mexican hot chocolate
We have plenty of food and we don't plan to run of items right away, so don't feel the need to rush and get here right at 9AM. The barn will be warm from 9AM to 12 noon.

Cheeses for sale at the farm
  • Fresh Chevre--it's still pretty luscious
  • Moonglo
  • Huckleberry Blue
  • A special fermented milk product with both sheep and goat milk (curious???)
Goat Milk Gelato
Wes was busy in the kitchen early this morning spinning batches of gelato for you to try and hopefully to buy.  He's got some farmstead flavors as well as flavors reminiscent of our winter trip to Italy.  YUM!!

Blue Moon Farm won't be here this Saturday (they are selling veggies behind the Coop this Saturday), but Tomahnous Farm will be here.  Lisa is bringing spring onions, herbs, radishes, some lettuce and honey. 

Chicagoans: the long cold lonely winter is OVER!
We will be attending the indoor Green City Market at the Peggy Notebart Nature Museum  THIS SATURDAY (on Cannon Drive just north of Fullerton). The market runs from 8AM to 1PM. We have a fresh new face selling our cheese for us at Green City Market this year. His name is David Buchanan, and he brings his cheese monger talents from Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread and Wine to our farmers' market stand.  Please welcome him when you meet him. 
Cheese-wise, we're sending up some fresh chevre (plain, herbs de Provence and cracked pepper) and some Moonglo.  As our cheese repertoire grows, we will send more cheeses.  Enjoy Chicago!

Posted 3/18/2011 1:13pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
baby goat heads
My electronic silence of late is born of the birthing of baby goats.  Our kidding season began about two and a half weeks ago, and I am now just barely able to come up for air. Fertility must have been in the air last October, because we're having record numbers of triplets this year. Lots of big male kids getting stuck in the birth canal backwards--giving me lots of practice as a goat midwife. I've already had to extricate two sets of kids stuck in the birth canal at the same time (and they're usually breach too!). This is especially challenging, because I'm not always sure whose feet I am grabbing hold of as I try to untangle bodies to facilitate their exit into the world.  Our tally to date is close to 80 kids out of about 35 does. Mothers and babies are doing fine. Births and the baby explosion translate to luscious milk, which further translates to the first fresh chevre of the season. 
What does this all mean for those of you who have been awaiting the return of fresh chevre, baby goats and farm breakfasts???
 We'll have cheese for sale:
Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence and cracked pepper
Huckleberry Blue-our raw goat milk blue cheese made last December. It's a wonderful slightly pungent blue.
Moonglo--our raw goat milk tomme aged about 3 1/2 months with the rich late lactation milk of December. 
We have Blue Moon Farm selling their wonderful spring spinach, kale, chard, parsley, cilantro along with carrots, and potatoes.  For their customers who have been pre-ordering veggies over the winter, they wanted you all to know that there is no pre-order process during the Prairie Fruits Farm spring markets; the format is just like a regular market, with everything first-come, first-served.
Tomahnous Farm will be here as well with some lettuce, herbs, goat milk soap and dried tomatoes and shitake mushrooms.

What's for breakfast you ask?

Tomahnous Farms free- range fried egg sandwich on Stewart's home-made bagel with fresh chevre, Triple S Farm bacon and PFF jalepeno jelly
Three sister's Farm oatmeal with candied Jarell-family walnuts and Spence Farm maple syrup topping
Blue Moon Farm's sweet Carrot Tart Tatin
Michigan Blueberry fresh baked Scones
Fair Trade Coffee & Goat Milk Hot Chocolate to wash down those delicious breakfast items.

Breakfasts are served first come first served from 9AM until 12 or when we sell out. NO RESERVATIONS required.

You will be able to view the goats and their babies as well as enjoy breakfast and shop for great early season local foods. We have a new barn for kids this year and a new set of procedures for ensuring "biosecurity," a fancy word for keeping our goats stay healthy and you our visitors.  We are asking people NOT to pet or even touch the goats or kids this year, and to follow directions for hand-washing and using our foot baths.  It should all run smoothly, and we will have our staff on hand to answer any questions you might have. 
The weather promises to be warm and sunny, so we're expecting a big crowd. PLEASE DO NOT PARK ON THE ROAD. YOU WILL BE DIRECTED TO PARK EITHER ALONG OUR DRIVE WAY OR INTO THE OVERFLOW AREA TO THE NORTH OF OUR DRIVEWAY. We appreciate your cooperation with proper parking. 
We look forward to seeing you here at the farm tomorrow.  HAPPY SPRING!

Posted 2/26/2011 5:26pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
snow fog on milkweed
It has been a long cold winter, and we are beginning to see the subtle signs of spring peak through the melting snow.  I actually picked some hardy survivalist spinach on Thursday. I couldn't believe it made it through the entire winter, although it was insulated by a thick blanket of snow. It was sweet and delicious, albeit a bit frost bitten.
I will be sending out more frequent emails describing happenings on the farm, but for now, I wanted to let everyone know that the dinner dates, themes, reservation ability are now posted on our website for your perusal and purchase (go to then click on "Dinners on the Farm," then "Dinner Descriptions and Make Reservations." You must click on each dinner date individually to see the detailed description and to purchase reservations. I would also encourage you to read the general description of our farm dinners (under "Dinners on the Farm"), so you have a basic idea of what to expect (start times, weather-related issues, cancellation and refund policy, etc. ).
Based on the number of inquiries I have received over the past several months, I know many of you have been eagerly awaiting this moment.  Thank you for your patience. I believe we have put together a diverse and interesting set of 13 dinners that will reflect the seasonality and exquisite tastes of our region's local foods. Enjoy!