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Chickens and Food Waste: a Mutual Benefit, Special Market at the Farm and Other Farm Happenings

Posted 10/26/2017 6:49pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

We like to close cycles here at the farm. We recycle as much as possible.  We (I) recoil in horror if someone accidentally or unknowingly puts food waste in the trash. I often find myself pulling onion skins and kale stems out of the trash to “save them.”  I’m always eating leftovers way past the date that the chef says we can enjoy them; I come from the generation of the “clean plate club.” 

We pride ourselves in composting all the organic wastes generated on the farm—the animal manure, deceased animals, prunings and kitchen waste.  We often feed our animals treats from the gardens or the kitchen—discarded flowers and kale stems are especially prized by our goats. While I frequently throw green weeds over the fence to our laying hens, I hadn’t really considered them appreciative of food scraps.  Their excitement over burdock leaves and pigweed stems suggested kitchen wastes might delight them. 

Most folks not familiar with the ways of fowl believe they are vegetarians. Nothing could be further from the truth. I chuckle at the labels on egg cartons claiming “fed only a vegetarian diet.” Chickens are omnivores, just like us.  They fight like “hens” when unearthing prized beetles or worms in their yard.  The more varied their diet, in fact, the more healthful and delicious their eggs. 

So, sometime this summer, we started giving them buckets and buckets of food scraps from the kitchen—watermelon rinds, peach skins and pits, potato peelings, polenta, slightly rotten tomatoes—their appetites seemed insatiable.  We would spread 5-gallon buckets full of food waste onto their yard, thinking it would take days to work through the heap.  To our amazement, they would go to work immediately; the rhythm of scratch, tug and tear mesmerizing. 

Their efficiency and thoroughness are inspiring. The thread-bare skeleton watermelon shells are a testament to the power of the chicken gut. Time to move over compost microbes; there’s a competitor recycler in your midst.    

Farmers Market AT THE FARM-Saturday October 28th

We have decided to “stay home” this coming Saturday and host market patrons at the farm.  We’ll be open from 9 AM to 4 PM.  We will return to the outdoor market on Saturday, November 4th, for the last outdoor market, and then we will move inside to the “Market in the Square” thereafter.  We feel so decadent, skipping out on near freezing temperatures forecast for this Saturday, but we thought our market patrons might like to experience a cozy fall Saturday morning in the warmth of our barn. 

To make it extra special, we will have doughnuts from Lucky Pierre Bakers (these are HUGE, delicious doughnuts fried in clarified butter!!!), and we’ll make some espresso drinks to warm you up (espresso, café Cubano, café Americano, cappuccino, affogato).  If you dress up in Halloween costume (adults and kids a like), we’re offering trick or treats too (yes, that means CANDY). 

Don't forget to follow  directions to the farm from our website. This will ensure easy travels during the road construction on N. Lincoln Avenue. The detour is in effect until November 6th.

We’re running a special on remaining pumpkins, gourds and squashes from The Great Pumpkin Patch in Arthur--50% off! You can cook with them or just use them as decorations. They are gorgeous and quirky (and delicious).  You can also visit with the goats, and enjoy the fall foliage in the countryside. 

Here are our cheese offerings for the weekend:

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
  • Angel Food:  our little “crottin” style bloomy rind; small enough to eat in one sitting; this cheese is perfectly ripe right now.  I’d buy two if I were you.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: our goat milk camembert; also perfectly ripe with just the right amount of gooey edges
  • Black Goat: our ash-coated bloomy with a hint of yeast on the rind; try our ACS award winning cheese. This batch is still young, but has a lovely fudgy consistency
  • Magia Negra: our nod to a Manchego style cheese, sharp nutty notes with hints of tart berries. Rind is rubbed with an olive oil-black currant & aronia berry paste
  • Moonglo: our raw-milk tomme-style cheese, aged for about 4 months.  Semi-firm texture, fruity and sharp flavor notes.  Ask for a taste and you’ll be smitten.
  • Goat Milk Yogurt: Available in both pints and quarts

Gelato Pint Flavors: At the farm or at the market, take advantage of our “three pint special”: buy 3, get $3 off the total price! 

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Salted Caramel
  • Masala Chai Tea
  • Fruitti di Bosco
  • Local Ginger
  • Hazelnut
  • Turtle  

Since our market is at the farm this weekend, we are also serving gelato by the scoop!!

Farm Open Hours:  In addition to our special Halloween market at the farm, we will be open on Sunday the 29th of October too--1-4 PM.  Then, we will be close the Real Stand temporarily in November to get it ready for the holidays. We will re-open the Sunday before Thanksgiving, so that folks who might have missed the holiday Market in the Square on Saturday, the 18th can have a chance to purchase cheese, gelato and other farm treats.

David Bane, of Bane Family Meats is offering his pastured “broad-breasted bronze” turkeys for sale at our farm this year. You must pre-order and then pick up at our farm on Sunday, Nov. 19th 1-3 pm. 

Here are the details: All turkeys have been raised on pasture with no antibiotics, no GMO's and no pesticides on Bane Family Farm. The size range will be from 12-25 lbs., and the price is $4.00/lb. Orders will be taken by phone (217-722-2188) or by email (davidpbane@aol.com) until we are sold out.   

Learn something new! Take our Cheese Pairings Class on Sunday afternoon (1-3 pm), November 5th—we will wow you with lots of styles of cheese and lots of accompaniments –jams, honey, pickles, wines, beers.  We’ll cover a few basic concepts about cheese styles and how to use all your senses to appreciate the dizzying array of flavors and textures. Then, we’ll dive in head first to a fun-filled afternoon of flavor sensations.  $35 ticket covers everything (limited to 30 participants, so don’t delay in signing up).    

Copyright 2017. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2017. All rights reserved. 4410 N. Lincoln Ave., Champaign, Illinois 61822 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC is responsible for the content of this email. Please contact Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell with any inquiries.