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Surviving the Polar Vortex, Dote on the Does and More

Posted 2/3/2019 6:27pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

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Farm News

We humble folks of the upper Midwest pride ourselves on our toughness, our ability to take weather extremes in stride.  Got snow? Just plow it or shovel and get on with the day. Ice storm got you encased? Throw down some salt or sand and hope the warming thaw is not too far behind. It has been a few years since we’d experienced a “polar vortex, ”and last week’s was exceptional in its temperature lows. 

In preparation for the deep freeze, we put down extra layers of fresh straw bedding in the goat barns and sealed the cracks in the chicken coop with plywood.  As the mercury plummeted, the goats enlisted their multi-pronged approach to staying warm. They puff up their winter coats to keep the cold air further away from their skin. As ruminants, they eat grassy hay continuously, keeping their rumens active and generating heat as a by-product of digestion.  As dusk falls, they nestle down into the straw and huddle together to share in each other’s body heat.

During such times of extreme weather we worry most about our senior goats—Liberty (14) and Gidget (13) are the two oldest does in our herd. Both retired, they have trouble keeping on weight, even though neither is bred.  On the morning of the coldest day (minus 20 actual temperature), Wes found Liberty and Gidget snuggling together, their bodies buried so deep in the straw, their heads were barely visible.  Worried that they might be unable to stand up, he helped them to their feet. Taking it all in stride, they puffed up their coats and waddled over to the hay manger to get some chow. Tough farmers, tough goats; everyone happy that the groundhog predicts an early arrival of spring.

Dote on the Does

During the winter months, the farm seems fairly quiet, but actually there’s a lot going on. The hardest working animals on the farm are our female goats, or does, which are over half way through their 150-day gestation period. Each doe is starting to show signs of pregnancy as their bodies go into overdrive to develop the babies inside.   It’s this time of the year they deserve a little pampering!

Come out for “Dote on the Does” and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate or a specialty coffee drink as you meet the moms of the babies that will be born this spring. Our staff will be grooming and feeding the goats, as well as answering any questions you may have. Watch as we measure and track the girth of the does scheduled first to go (kidding season should start the first full week in March): Helena, Medusa, Periwinkle, Violet, and Zora.  

While you’re out at the farm, be sure to take your guess at which doe will give birth first! Pick a doe, a date and the number of kids for a chance to win a free Prairie Fruits Farm t-shirt. Then come back into the Farm Store for a cheese board and glass of wine or beer, or just to warm up in a comfy chair, as you plan your next visit to dote on your favorite doe.

The farm store will have a limited repertoire of cheese for sale, as well as other products (meats, eggs, sausages, locally milled flour, honey, jam, PFF& C “merch” and more!  

Taking reservations for spring goat kids

If you’re looking for exceptionally healthy, American-Dairy-Goat-Association-registerable breeding stock (doelings and bucklings) or just a great pet/companion, consider reserving a kid or more through our website.  Our kidding season will start in mid- March, and prices vary by age. 

Volunteer Opportunities at the Farm

If you’re interested in volunteering during kidding season (we need lots of help feeding baby goats, cleaning their pens and making sure they’re happy and healthy), send us an email and we’ll add you to our list of volunteers. The email address is: prairiefruitsinfo@gmail.com Feeding shifts are 7-8 AM, 12-1 PM and 4:30-5:30 PM, 7 days a week from mid-March through mid-May.    


Copyright 2019. Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2019. 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.