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Herding by water gun, farm and market happenings and more

Posted 6/8/2018 11:27am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

Goats, being crafty and curious creatures, are always on the lookout for the next best thing.  The manner in which they “graze” a pasture is furtive and selective.  They dart to and fro, grabbing mouthfuls of grass here, forage alfalfa there and tender thistle shoots when the mood strikes them. During their daily guided walks to the prairie and riparian zone, they are usually satiated by the smorgasbord of herbivory in their midst, heads buried or necks outstretched to grab some cottonwood or honey locust leaves.

Occasionally, someone in the group spots something especially alluring in a distance field and moves quickly toward the object of her desire.  If the rest of the group chances to look and up and witness the break away, they begin to follow in quick pursuit, the wave of goat heads akin to a school of fish averting a predator’s jaws. 

The lone goat herder has little chance to head them off and avoid decimating the neighbor’s growing corn field without the use of a ‘secret weapon’—the water gun.  Goats, unlike their ruminant cousins, (cattle and sheep) hate to get wet.  At the slightest hint of a few rain drops, they scurry towards the barn for shelter.  Playing to their dislike of wetness, strategic squirts with the water gun have proven to be an effective (and incredibly fun) way to keep the goats where we want them.

We used the herding by water gun technique this week as we moved our bucklings from the kid barn through the orchard into the summer pasture area.  Our usual strategy for moving kids is to have a pied piper person in front of the pack shaking a bucket of grain.  This works if they are hungry, but this group was moved in the morning, not too long after their feeding. So, the second herder brought up the rear with a water gun. 

The “carrot-stick” approach worked beautifully; they jogged down the mowed path with little deviation into the orchard. In a matter of minutes, they were flowing into their new home, bleating with simultaneous excitement and trepidation.  They learned their “hot wire” lessons quickly and within an hour, they were settled into their new digs—some lounging under the shade of their shelter; others exploring hidden delicacies of their new pasture.

Text Message Customer Loyalty Program: This week’s offer relates to our chevre.  To get the message with the special info, you’ll need to sign up: text either “GOAT” or “URBANA” or “FARMSTORE” to 30500 to sign up.  Here are the key words based on your interests:

  • For general farm announcements, text GOAT to 30500
  • For special farmers’ market offers and promotions (Urbana’s Market at the Square patrons), text URBANA to 30500
  • For the latest news on farm to table meals, text TABLE to 30500
  • For CSA members, text CSA to 30500

Farmers’ Market Offerings

We’re rolling out some spring feta this week, and we’re running a special on Moonglo. We are flush with cheese, so come on out to the market or the farm and load up!

  • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper—the lemony flavor of our summer chevre is a perfect foil for a mixed green salad or a simple frittata made with local mushrooms. You can taste the pasture in our milk right now!
  • Goat Milk Feta: the first of the season feta is HERE! We are now making our feta with pasteurized milk. It’s still aged in whey brine, imparting all the wonderful complex flavors you’ve come to expect from our feta. With summer salad season upon, the arrival of our feta is timely.
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: This batch is perfectly ripe.  Serve with local honey or one of the jams in our farm store. If you want to go the savory route, try serving a round with one of our new spring pestos—wild ramp or green garlic or fermented green garlic in brine (found only in our farm store).
  • Angel Food: our little “mini-brie” or crottin style bloomy rind; this new batch of Angel Food is young, firm and tangy. For those you who like it slightly tart and crumbly, this is your cheese this week. Try crumbling over roasted beets. 
  • Black Goat: an ash-coated bloomy with a delicate and crinkly yeasty rind. This batch is young, but it has a sublime fudgy consistency and a hint of yeastiness on the rind.  Try pairing with spicy dry-cured salami.
  • Moonglo: fall-milk, tomme-style cheese; the texture of this semi-hard cheese is soft and supple like Gouda, but the taste is sharp and fruity. Ask for a taste if you’ve never had it before. Try it on crusty bread with onion jam or caramelized onions. Try melting it for a gourmet grilled cheese. This week, we have a batch with soft rinds, so we’re running a special--$5/lb. off the regular price.  Ask for a taste—all you have to do is cut off the rind, and enjoy the delicious cheese within.
  • Huckleberry Blue: our limited late fall goats’ milk blue cheese—it’s a gateway to blue cheeses; creamy texture, not overly blue-veined (or sharp in a blue way). This cheese is great crumbled on a salad, sliced and warmed on a steak or burger OR served on baguette with a fig jam or walnut balsamic vinegar reduction (this is an amazing combination). This cheese is ONLY available directly from us—no wholesale buyers have this cheese right now.

Gelato:  We are back with pints this weekend:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Salted Caramel Swirl
  • Stracciatella (chocolate ganache “chip”)
  • Local Strawberry (strawberries from Meyer Produce Farm)  

DON’T FORGET: we have a new spot at the farmers’ market--Urbana Market at the Square. We are in spot #20 on the south-west (along Illinois Street) end of the market. We are right next to Moore Family Farm.

Farm Store Summer Hours

The farm’s summer hours have begun; now through the end of August, we will be open Wednesdays-Fridays, 3-7 pm, as well as Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 pm. The farm is a tranquil green space where you can come after work to unwind. During our open hours, you can “build your own” cheese boards—pick out your cheeses, add a salami (Underground Meats) or jar of jam or pesto, grab some bagel chips (Lucky Pierre Bakers) and we’ll provide the board. You can sit outside under our new pavilion roof and enjoy a glass of wine or beer with cheese!

If you just want to come out to do a little shopping in farm store, we’ll have cheese and scoops of gelato as well as other farmer products: locally milled whole wheat flour from The Mill at Janie’s Farm, meats, poultry eggs from Bane Family Meats, Piemonte Sausages, Jams from Autumn Berry Inspired and Prairie Fruits Farm “merch.” Check out the new products by Sarah Stewart (our former gelato maker); pickled ramps, pickled shitake mushrooms, fermented green garlic in brine and spring pestos (green garlic-pistachio and wild ramp). 

Dinners on the Farm: Our 2018 season has begun. Summer is a great time to enjoy dining outside at the farm, especially under our new timber-frame pavilion. We have some fantastic themes for summer—“Summer Tapas,” “A Crawfish Boil,” “A Cheesy Affair” (with guest from Pastoral Appellation Wine Bar) and “Summer Vegetarian” (with guest chef Dan Compton of Vie Restaurant).

Do you dream of having goats in your life?  Do you want a family milk goat? How about for brush control or rural pet? Goats are wonderful working animals and affectionate companions too. We have great breeding stock with excellent health and milk records.  We also have retired does, bucklings and wethers for grazing/brush control and companion animal needs. Check out what's available and contact us if interested. 

Copyright 2018. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2018. 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.