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:
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.
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.
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 email@example.com if you're interested in participating.
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:www.bluemoonfarm.biz/products-page/
"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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or reply to email@example.com
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
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.
Crocus are curled up tight
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.
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
Cheeses for sale at the farm
- Fresh Chevre--it's still pretty luscious
- Huckleberry Blue
- A special fermented milk product with both sheep and goat milk (curious???)
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!
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???
OUR FIRST OPEN HOUSE-FARM BREAKFAST IS TOMORROW, MARCH 19TH FROM 9AM TO 12 NOON.
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!
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 www.prairiefruits.com 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!
This is the time of year when we finally pull the plug on milk production and take a break from making cheese. The girls have given us some great milk this year, and we thank them. I feel both a sense of sadness and relief as we approach this time of year, every year. Sadness because I won't be making cheese for awhile; relief because I now get to rest, as do the goats. The seasonality of goats, goat milk and cheese is perfect for northern climes such as Central Illinois. It's too cold to coax them out of the barn to milk them, anyway. I went out to the barn to visit them this morning as Aaron was trimming their hooves, and Madeline, Ava and Ingrid strolled to the fence, put their feet up and pushed their heads towards me to be petted. I wished I had grown at least another pair of hands for all those heads clamoring for my affection. Their coats are puffed up to protect them from the cold, exagerating their plumpness.
Our last two farmers' markets of the season will be held this Saturday, December 18th from 8AM to 1PM: Urbana's Holiday Market inside Lincoln Square Village and Chicago's Green City Market at the Peggy Notebart Nature Museum. We'll have a respectable amount and assortment of cheeses for you to enjoy over the holidays as well as our gift size (5.5 oz.) farmstead honey and half-pint jars of the goat milk cajeta (caramel sauce). For the best selection, I highly recommend arriving early to the markets. Cheese-wise, we'll have:
Fresh chevre--plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper and heirloom tomato
Angel Food--think baked brie for New Year's eve
Little Bloom on the Prairie--enjoy with some sliced apples or pears
Krotovina classic --the all-goat version of our mold-ripened pyramid with an ash layer
Moonglo (very limited amount)--just slice it and eat it on some rustic bread
Kaskaskia--sheep milk grating style cheese--great for soups, stews, pasta, pizza-so versatile!
ANOTHER GREAT GIFT IDEA FROM PFF: We'll be selling $25 gift certificates this Saturday at the farmers' markets that can be used to purchase cheese, fruits, honey or any of our other fine farm products either at the farmers' markets or at our farm next season. They can also be used toward the purchase of our farm breakfasts next spring. What they CAN'T be used for is our farm dinners (sorry....). We will be posting the dinner dates in early March, so if you're signed up on our mailing list, you will ge the notice.
Happy Holidays to Everyone. The Prairie Fruits Farm family thanks you for your patronage.
It was fitting since this was the photo on the menu. We kept everyone warm with spectacular pairings of food and beer (you can see the menu on our website) and thankfully propane heaters. We were regaled by tunes played by my high-school buddy, David Hershey-Webb, who was visiting us (with his family) and gave a concert in Chicago that same weekend. Bill Morgan, Brew Master of Blind Pig fame, crafted some really fine beers from Saison to Stout. The belgian beef stew (prepared with meat from a steer we raised on the farm last year) was the piece de resistance, but the guests were left beyond satiated with a dessert of Flatlander chocolate-little bloom truffles, Missouri pecan and Flatlander chocolate "turtles" and chocolate malt goats' milk gelato "balls" rolled in crushed pretzels.
Sorry for making you all salivate, but the good news is that we made extra truffles and turtles so that we could share them with you at the farmers' markets this weekend. Here's the cornucopia of what we're bringing to the farmers' markets this Saturday, December 11th--Urbana's Holiday Market inside Lincoln Square Village and Chicago's Green City Market at the Peggy Notebart Nature Museum (both run from 8AM to 1PM):
Cheese (in very limited quantities this week, so get to the markets early for the best selection)
- Fresh chevre--plain, herbs de Provence, cracked peppercorn and a few heirloom dried tomato
- Angel Food
- Little Bloom on the Prairie
- A few very ripe Red Dawn
The last of the Flatlander (local, artisanal dark chocolate produced by the late Dan Schreiber) chocolate in two forms: a little bloom on the prairie (camembert style) chocolate truffle and a caramel-missouri pecan turtle with dark chocolate drizzle.
Back by popular demand (your emails do work!): goats' milk cajeta (mexican style caramel sauce very similar to dulce de leche)--half pints and pint size jars will be available.
Lastly, we have a few of our Community Supported Goat Organic Cotton T-Shirts left (mostly XL size but maybe one or two larges left). We've reduced the price to $12--they do shrink some, and they make a very attractive night shirt with all those beautiful goat heads on the back (a selection of the "girls" of Prairie Fruits Farm") to lull you to sleep.
Lots of people are asking about the schedule of farm dinners for the 2011 season. If we decide to offer gift certificates again this year, they will appear on our website some time next week. If not, then the dates for the 2011 will go live on our website in early March 2011. Stay Tuned.....
December seems to be a month that we crave cheese. Maybe because eating cheese is so much more satisfying when eaten communally, and December is a month of sharing food. It's also a month of sharing drink, and what better way to enjoy cheese than with hand-crafted beers. We have two beer and cheese events scheduled for this coming week: Our final farm dinner "A Winter Beer and Cheese Fete" on Saturday, December 4th. You can see the menu and the beer pairings on our website: www.prairiefruits.com under "Dinners on the Farm." Then click on "Dinner Descriptions and Make Reservations" and then "Winter Beer and Cheese Fete" to see the menu. It is sold out.
The other event is a Beer and Cheese Tasting at Crane Alley in Urbana. There are seats still available; see the details below:
Beer & Cheese Tasting
Wednesday December 8th @7pm
In the Crane Alley Mezzanine.
We’ll be featuring the locally hand crafted
cheese of Prairie Fruits Farm. Paired along
with the world renowned brews of Merchant Du
Vin. Such as: Rochefort, Westmalle, Orval,
Samuel Smiths and Lindemans.
Hosted by: Brian Van Zandbergen of
Merchant du Vin and Leslie Cooperband
of Prairie Fruits Farm.
Tickets are $20 per person and are
available at the bar or through your
server. Space is limited.
For More Information or to Make Reservations: Contact Aaron at (217) 384-7526
115 West Main St # 1
Urbana, IL 61801-2722
We'll have an array of our cheeses, our farmstead honey and our organic-cotton Prairie Fruits Farm T-Shirts (large and X-large sizes only). The shirts have a photo montage of some of our favorite goats on the back. It makes an excellent stocking stuffer for the goat or cheese lover in your family or circle of friends. We've reduced the price to $12 each.
Cheese-wise, we'll be bringing the following:
Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
Little Bloom on the Prairie
Red Dawn (last of the season)
Krotovina (limited supply)
Moonglo (limited supply)
Happy Communal Cheese Eating and Fermented Beverage Drinking