News

Welcome to Leslie's Blog.
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.

 

Posted 3/26/2009 3:07pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

I am not one to flood people with email messages, but given the number of questions I have already received about the farm breakfasts during our Saturday farm sales, I feel the need to make some clarifications:

1) No reservations are required for the farm breakfasts. We will have a blackboard with each week's items. You place your order when you arrive and we'll make it up for you--fresh, hot and delicious.

2) Breakfast will be served from 9AM to 12 noon--same hours as the farm open house, on-farm sales. 

3) Although we will have a couple of tables set up for you to sit down and eat, this is NOT a fancy, sit-down affair. We will be serving on compostable plates using compostable cutlery. We expect people to either eat on the "hoof" or sit down for a bit either inside or outside the barn, weather depending.  We expect you to clean up after yourselves when done eating--dispose of your compostable plates, etc in the designated areas as well as dispose of the other, non-compostable waste in another designated area.  

That's it. Just simple, fresh delicious food made to order with ingredients that we will be selling at the farm for you to purchase.  Hopefully the breakfasts will inspire your own local culinary creations.  

Posted 3/26/2009 12:18pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

This just in: Prairie Fruits Farm will be offering farm breakfasts during our season of on farm sales (now until the end of April).  

 Starting this Saturday, March 28th, we'll be cooking up some of the finest local food breakfasts you can probably find in Central Illinois.  

The tentative menu for this week includes:

  • Mouton frais (sheep milk cheese) and spring greens frittata
  • Tomahnous Farm fried egg and Blue Moon Farm spinach sandwich
  • Yogurt parfait with Stewart's Artisan Breads granola, Prairie Fruits Farm fruits and honey
Although not locally grown, fair trade coffee wil be served as well. 


On another note, some of you who ventured out to the farm last week probably noticed some incredibly beautiful natural yarn for sale.  Well, the spinner is Cathe Capel, owner of Seven Sisters Farm in Sidney, IL. The farm is located on a historic farmstead in eastern Champaign County, and they raise heritage-breed sheep. Cathe produces handmade yarns in natural colors from select Leicester Longwool, Shetland, Merino, and Border Leicester fleeces. Processed wool is also available. Cathe will be bringing a lot more skeins of this beautiful wool for sale this coming Saturday. If you're a knitter or a lover of fine wool, come by and check it out!
Posted 3/25/2009 11:38am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

 http://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=2&ik=0d080496ba&view=att&th=12030c28cf67c087&attid=0.1&disp=inline&realattid=f_fsmfd2pv0&zw

 photo courtesy of Lisa Bralts-Kelly (thank you Lisa!!)

 

Once again, we will be hosting an open-house on farm sale this Saturday, March 28th from 9AM to 12 noon. We have some newborn kids for you to see as well as the "older" (two weeks) ones who will entertain you and warm your hearts with their gravity defying antics.  

 Cheese sales will include the mouton frais (our fresh sheep's milk cheese) and Moonglo (our raw milk goat tomme with a washed rind) along with some other goodies.

Jon Cherniss of Blue Moon Farm will be bringing more of his delicious organic spinach and kale--some welcome greens for the beginning of spring. Get them while they last!

Lisa Haynes from Tomahnous Farm will be bringing "lots of eggs, very limited shiitake, chives, garlic chives, oregano, lovage, mint, whole wheat flours (pastry and bread), and a couple bunches of chard (but really only a couple)." Her eggs are from truly pastured birds fed organic grains.

Stewart Pequinot from Stewarts Artisan Breads and Pastries will be bringing some of his hearty breads and legitimate bages, including Craisin/Pecan loaves, Potato loaves. Cinnamon Swirl loaves, Rye w.fennel loaves, Honey Wheat loaves,Olive/Rosemar Loaves  Raisin/Cinn loaves, Walnut/fig loaves. Challah, Biscotti, Granola, Granola Bars, various bagels and bagel bites.

For those unfamiliar with the farm, you can find directions on the website.  Looking foward to seeing you out here on the farm!

Posted 3/18/2009 10:35pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Kidding season has begun. Twelve out of about 60 does have had their babies and what a cute crop of kids we have. I never tire of seeing them take their first leaps into the air after only two days out of the womb.

With kids come milk and with milk comes the first fresh cheeses of the season.

We are pleased to offer our first on farm sale and open house starting THIS Saturday, March 21st (spring equinox for those of you who follow the seasonal calendar) from 9AM to 12 noon. 

We will be hosting farm sales-open house every Saturday from now until the first farmers' market in Urbana (May 2nd), so check the website for details about what offerings we will have each weekend.

In addition to our selection of cheeses, we will be offering you a few surprises in celebration of spring.

We will also have the following items from other neighboring farmers and artisan producers:

Farm fresh eggs from Tomahnous Farm

Certified organic spinach and kale from Blue Moon Farm

Artisan breads and bagels from Stewarts Artisan Breads and Pastries. 

Come see the kids perform their antics. You may even be lucky enough to witness a doe giving birth.

For directions to the farm, check out our website. 

Also, finally, I know many of you have been waiting with baited breath for the dates of the 2009 Dinners on the Farm. At last, they are now posted on the website under "Dinners on the Farm" "Buy Dinners."  You can make reservations directly on the website. Let me know if you have any questions. I recommend you reserve soon as last year's dinners sold out within three weeks of posting on our website.

Posted 3/6/2009 1:43pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Hello cheese fans:

We received our first batch of sheep milk from our Amish sheep dairy this week, and we thought "what better way to say 'It's Spring', than some fresh cheese." So, we made a sheep "chevre"--a fresh sheep milk cheese very similar in texture to our goat chevre, but a bit more tangy. We will have it for sale this weekend at the Green City Market in Chicago and at a couple of stores in Urbana-Champaign: Common Ground Food Cooperative in Lincoln Square Village and World Harvest on University Avenue.  It comes in the same containers as our regular chevre and we are offering plain or with Herbes de Provence.

We also have Moonglo, our raw milk, washed rind tomme-style goat cheese, aged about 4 months. It's as pungent and delicious as ever.

Other news: We have begun the kid watch and are expecting our first does to deliver this weekend.  Even though this is our fifth year of kidding, we still have tremendous excitement and anticipation. 

Stay tuned for notices about on farm cheese sales and the Dinners on the Farm.

All the best.

Leslie Cooperband & Wes Jarrell