Welcome to Leslie's Blog.
Posted 6/11/2013 10:59pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

It's time again for another farm open-house and on-farm sale-tomorrow, Wednesday from 4 to 6PM.  Summer weather is finally upon us and we've got "cool" foods to keep you cool.  We've got lots of great cheese for sale including creamy fresh chevre, sheep milk feta and several styles of bloomy rind cheese.  On the gelato front, we've got scoops (**flavors marked with asterisk) and pints of some great new (and favorite) flavors:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate *
  • Hazelnut
  • Fresh Mint*
  • Lemon Balm-Thyme* NEW this week
  • Stracciatella*
  • Mint Ricotta
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Pecan Biscotti
  • Local Strawberry
  • Pistachio

We've brought back Pistachio by popular demand. We have a very limited number of pints for sale and we're charging a premium price for this 100% pure Sicilian Pistachio paste gelato (it's the real deal). We know you green nut fans are out there, so come and get it!

As to our other farmer & artisan friends:

Stewart's Artisan Breads will have bagels, breads, cookies and granola for sale.
Tomahnous Farm will have the last of their asparagus, some strawberries, salad mix, plants, and herbs.

Lucky Duck Farm is bringing:

  • Chicken eggs and duck eggs (free-range, pastured, organically fed)
  • Ground beef (Black Angus, 100% grass-fed)
  • Ham steaks (pastured Red Wattle pigs, organically fed)
  • Yarn from our flock of 100% grass-fed Icelandic sheep

Laurence the Knife Sharpening Dude will be here to sharpen your knives while you shop and visit the farm.  

The goats, the pigs, the dog and any other creatures you've come to love at our farm will be here to greet you as well.  We hope to see you HERE!

Posted 6/10/2013 12:33pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Greetings CSA members:

It is time again for another pick up of cheese, bread and gelato. Just to remind you:


  • Tuesday 4:30 to 5:30PM 1st Presybterian Church, Normal (with PrairieErth Farm)
  • Tuesday 6:00 to 7:00PM Unitarian Church on Emerson St. Bloomington (with Henry's Farm)
  • Wednesday 8:00 to 11:00AM at the downtown Springfield Farmers' Market at Katic Bread's stand
  • Wednesday 4:00 to 6:00PM at Prairie Fruits Farm
  • Friday 3:30 to 5:30PM at the Naperville Tennis Club (with Broadbranch Farm)

If you are not able to come pick up your shares, please make sure you get someone to pick up for you.  

Thank you very much.

Leslie and Carissa

Posted 6/6/2013 6:57pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Farm News

Nearly a week ago as Friday evening rolled into Saturday morning, I awoke not to the sounds of thunder or high winds from the latest rainstorm, but to Wes’ opening the back door. Apparently, I had slept through a raucous thunderstorm that took out our power.  Wes had gone outside to make sure that the generator had turned on, only to find a large tree limb stretched across the roof of our little red shed and our pole barn.  The fiercest part of the storm had passed, but the rains were still coming, so I threw on a raincoat and some boots and headed outside with Wes, flashlights in hand to assess the full damage and check on the goats.  We had noticed signs of rot at the base of this large silver maple—the major clue being birds coming and going from inside the base of the tree—clearly taking advantage of a gaping hole inside.  Clearly, we didn’t realize the extent of the rot until the storm damage was before us.  With only the light from the flashlights—I was using a combination of the flashlight app on my smart phone and a headlamp—it was hard to see how large this limb really was and how much its weight had crushed in the roof of the shed and tore holes in the metal roof of the pole barn. We went inside the pole barn and climbed up the stairs to the hayloft to place buckets underneath the roof holes where rainwater was now seeping inside. 

Once that was stable, we ventured out to the pasture where we had just moved the oldest group of weaned kids along with the retired does.  I had feared that the old ladies would have taken the igloo shelter for themselves, leaving the little ones to wail in the pouring rain. As we approached the gate, it became clear that the kids had taken over the igloo and the old ladies---Chocolate, Habanero, Chippewa and even the brazen Huckleberry were standing out in the rain, soaking wet and moaning in distress over their situation.  The additional wooden shelters that Wes had put out in the pasture for the kids were partially submerged under water, and clearly, the little ones sought higher and drier ground inside the igloo, forcing their grandmothers out to brave the elements.  We quickly opened the gate and escorted the old ladies back to the barn; they were most eager to follow us (except Jethro, the yearling wether and brother of Ellie May, who seemed so traumatized by the storm that I had to drag him from the pasture to the barn).  Thankfully, there was no damage to the barns, and just wet bedding where the rain blew in from the windows. So, we closed up the windows, put down fresh straw bedding, gave everyone a round of hay to calm their nerves and headed back to the house. 

One thing that city folks don’t often realize about losing power is that you lose water too (I confess that being a former “city girl” this relationship was not obvious to me when we moved to our farm).  Most rural residences have wells, and wells have pumps that are powered by electricity—no electricity, no power to the well pump, no water. Unfortunately, our well pump is connected to the electrical panel at our house, while our main generator only powers our pole barn and our barns.  So, we have another smaller generator that we turn on manually to power up the house panel to get the water back on.  Water is critical for a dairy. We need it to run the milking system, we need it to flow through our automatic waterers in the barn and we need it for the self-feeder that provides milk replacer to the kids still on milk.  We also need it in the cheeserie to fill the jackets of the cheese vats and to wash everything.  The relationship between power and water is as important as the relationship between power and refrigeration.  Wes stayed up for the remainder of the night (now early morning) to turn on and off the house generator (it overheats if you leave it on continuously), while I tried to slow down the flow of adrenaline in my veins and get a little bit of sleep before it was time to get up and get ready for the farmers’ market. 

tree damage

Daylight seeped in, revealing the full extent of the tree limb damage.  We got ourselves to the Urbana Farmers’ Market, set up and Wes went back to begin storm cleanup.  The power finally came back on by 10AM on Saturday, and we were able to pull off another successful farm dinner that evening. 

The arborist finally came on Tuesday to excise the limb from the roof.  His technique was a kin to surgery.  Before he could get to the heart of the tree limb, he had to cut out the major side branches. 

tree limb surgery 1

Once they were removed, he was able to back the limb slowly off the roof.  Now comes firewood for winter and dried maple leaf snacks for the goat girls.

limb on the ground

Farmers’ Markets

This Saturday, June 8th, we’re attending two farmers’ markets: Urbana and Chicago’s Green City Market.  Our raw milk tome, Moonglo, is taking a brief early summer vacation, but we’ve got a great line up of cheeses to keep you satisfied:

  • Fresh Chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked black peppercorn
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: grass and citrus notes evoke pasture-fed goats
  • Ewe Bloom—delicious in all its sheepy-ness; perfect for a cheese burger if you dare
  • Black Goat—ash-ripened delicate goat milk round—great on a salad of fresh greens
  • Sheep Milk Feta
  • Goat Milk Ricotta-try using this cheese with a drizzle of honey and some fresh sliced strawberries

On the gelato front, we’re starting to add some summer flavors to our repertoire (flavors with an asterisk are those likely to appear at the Green City Market):

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Stracciatella
  • Pumpkin Pie*
  • Mint Ricotta*
  • Margot's Fresh Mint*
  • Lemon Balm-Thyme (a new flavor--come try it!!)*
  • Cajeta (goat milk caramel) Swirl*
  • Local Strawberry*
  • Pecan Biscotti

 Stay tuned for next week's details about farm open house and CSA pick ups.



Posted 6/4/2013 7:28pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

If you're craving a fix of goats, you should come out to our farm tomorrow afternoon between 4 and 6PM.  Our summer open house and on farm sale has something for everyone:

Cheese to taste and to buy (plenty of chevre, an assortment of bloomy rind cheeses, sheep milk feta)
Gelato by the scoop (asterisk indicates flavors for single servings) and pints to take home
  • Vanilla*
  • Chocolate*
  • Hazelnut
  • Stracciatella
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Mint Ricotta*
  • Margot's Fresh Mint
  • Lemon Balm-Thyme (a new flavor--come try it!!)*
  • Cajeta (goat milk caramel) Swirl
  • Local Strawberry*
  • Pecan Biscotti
Produce and plants from Tomahnous Farm (greens, onions, tomato and herb plants)
Lucky Duck Farm is bringing Chicken eggs and duck eggs (free-range, pastured, organically fed), Ground beef (Black Angus, 100% grass-fed)Ham steaks (pastured Red Wattle pigs, organically fed) Yarn from our flock of 100% grass-fed Icelandic sheep
Stewart's Artisan breads will have an assortment of breads, bagels, cookies and granola
Laurence Mate the knife sharpening dude will sharpen your knives while you shop and visit with the farm animals
Blue the dog will greet you and try to get you to throw him a ball or a stick
The pigs will wallow in the mud while Blue the dog tries to circle their pen
The goat kids in the pasture will beg you for grain (but don't give them any)

If those aren't reasons enough, just come out to enjoy the tranquil farm environment.  It's very peaceful.

Posted 5/31/2013 7:08am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.


Farm News

This week I spent a lot more time in the cheeserie leaning over the cheese vat.  I came to reconnect my body with the rhythms of ladling curd. There’s a pattern that sets in that reminds me of tango or waltz—dip, scoop, rest, dip, scoop, rest—that’s rest the curd into the basket or the cheese mold, not “rest” your body.  Amidst the steam of ricotta, the seemingly endless, dense curd of sheep milk cheese and the delicate curd of chevre, the dance steps change slightly to fit the needs of the curd.  Once the curd is out of the cheese vat, another dance ensues—the shuffling “hustle” of washing the dishes.

Rain, rain, rain—it’s making the garden grow but not allowing our neighbors to cut hay.  This is the latest date we can remember that we haven’t been able to get a first cutting of alfalfa. Thankfully, the pasture is lush and tall, so the goats have plenty of fresh forage to eat.  We moved another group of weaned kids out into pasture this week—they’re pasture mates with the retiree goat girls. It’s pretty comical to see them out there, their little heads visible just barely above the tall grass.  They move like a school of fish.  The retired does move in the opposite direction of the little ones. 

Farmers’ Markets, Farm Sales, Farm Dinners

This Saturday, June 1st, we’re attending just the Urbana Farmers’ Market.  We’ll return to Green City Market next Saturday.  We’ve got a full lineup of early summer cheeses:

  • Fresh chevre—plain, herbs de Provence, cracked black peppercorn
  • Fresh goat milk ricotta
  • Sheep milk feta (if you think this is just any old feta, you NEED to try it!)
  • A selection of bloomy rind cheeses including Angel Food, Little Bloom on the Prairie, Ewe Bloom, Black Goat
  • Moonglo (some of the last pieces of last fall’s batches—get it before it’s gone)

We have moved into gelato season with the warmer temperatures. Come take home a pint or two:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • Mint
  • Strawberrry
  • Stracciatella
  • Cajeta Swirl (that’s goat milk caramel sauce swirled into vanilla gelato)
  • Mint Ricotta (made with our very own ricotta)
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Pecan Biscotti crunch

If you miss the market on Saturday, you have another opportunity to buy cheese, gelato and other farm products. Just come out to the farm on Wednesday afternoons from 4 to 6 PM. 

We have a farm dinner this Saturday with our very special guest chef Paul Virant.  The menu is now on our website. We also have four extra seats available due to cancellations. So go to the ShowClix site to purchase them. 

Posted 5/28/2013 9:47pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

In my haste to get out a message to our local patrons about our Wednesday Open House and On Farm Sales, I completed forgot to include the weekly professional knife sharpening service we offer by way of Laurence Mate, aka, the knife sharpening dude. He will be here tomorrow from 4 to6 PM along with all of us farmers and food artisans. Bring your dull knives and see the farm and shop while Laurence sharpens them for you.  Strawberry Gelato makes its 2013 debut tomorrow!! It's delish!!!

Posted 5/27/2013 5:51pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

I'll be brief to not detract from your holiday weekend festivities (if you're here in Central IL, grilling is probably NOT happening with the torrential rains and thunderstorms we're having).  This Wednesday's forecast (that's May 29th) calls for warm temperatures and many scoops of goat milk gelato.  Come out to the farm from 4 to 6 PM to enjoy some gelato, buy some cheese, soaps and t-shirts and pick up some mid-week local groceries. Tomahnous Farm will be here with plant starts, greens and maybe asparagus. Lucky Duck Farm will be here with eggs and maybe meat. Stewart's Artisan Breads will have his usual selection of beautiful breads, cookies and granola.  Summer is here, and the farm is THE place to be!

Posted 5/27/2013 5:40pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Greetings CSA members:
Our first pickups of the season are happening tomorrow and Wednesday. Just as a reminder, please make sure you come to pick up your shares of bread, cheese and/or gelato.

Tuesday: Normal (with PrairieEarth Farm CSA) 1st Presbytarian Church Parking Lot from 4:30 to 5:30 PM

Tuesday: Peoria at Marcella Teplitz House (downtown) from 5 to 6 PM

Tuesday: Bloomington (with Henry's Farm CSA) Unitarian Church Parking Lot (Emerson St.) from 6 to 7PM

Wednesday: Springfield (at the Katic Bread stand) at the downtown Farmers' Market from 8AM to 11AM

Wednesday: Prairie Fruits Farm (at the farm) from 4 to 6 PM

If you can't make it, please send someone else to pick up your shares. We don't make allowances for pick ups on alternate dates.  Please let us know if you have any questions. We look forward to seeing you soon!


Posted 5/23/2013 9:52pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Farm News

As I write, the temperature outside has plummeted to the high ‘30’s.  Tonight’s full moon beckons the onset of summer, but the moon didn’t get the message about the frigid temperatures.  We thought we were well past close to freezing temperatures, so we planted our tomatoes and peppers this week.  Our peaches, apples, pears and cherries have set fruits, so let’s hope the dip in the mercury doesn’t cause any damage. Two years in a row without tree fruits would be too much to bear. 

This week, I finally got around to giving booster vaccines to our weaned goat kids.  We have now weaned our third cohort of kids; indeed, they grow up so fast.  I marvel at their size, the strength of their teeth (when they used to suckle on my fingers as newborns, it was barely a tickle; now it actually hurts!), their ritualized adult-like behaviors—head butting, male mounting, the whole nine yards in miniature.   This group took their vaccinations in stride.  They also seem to be ready to move on to hay and grain and leave the milk behind them.  As we vaccinate, we make sure we remember who is who—most of them either have lost or worn through their name tags by this point in their young lives.  So, I have to rummage through the birth book to figure out names (by names, I am referring to their mother’s name, since we haven’t picked out any names for this year’s crop of kids yet).  Since I was present at most of their births, I have a pretty good memory for their markings or how their features match up with their mothers’.  I’ve developed my short list for which doelings we’ll be keeping this year. I have to sharpen the pencil just a bit more, as we’ll probably only keep 10 to 12 this year.  Decisions, decisions.  It’s hard to look past just a “pretty face.”

Farmers’ Markets, First week of Cheese, Bread and Gelato CSA and Farm Open House

This week, we’re attending both Urbana’s Market at the Square and Chicago’s Green City Market.  For those of you in Chicago, please come visit our newest farm employee, Andrew.  He’ll be there to help you select cheeses and gelato for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend food festivities.  He’s got a great food sense, so if you’re looking for suggestions about how best to use some of our cheeses in your weekend cooking plans, just ask him. 

This week, we’re featuring our Black Sheep as the perfect cheese for the holiday weekend. This ash-ripened sheep milk cheese is perfectly ripe right now, with a nice yeasty (bread dough) rind, a gooey exterior and a creamy slightly “sheepy” (in a good way) paste. It pairs well with a tart jam such as quince paste, but if you’re planning to put some burgers on the grill, you might consider a Black Sheep Cheese Burger. You will impress your friends with your novelty and good taste. In addition to our featured “black sheep,” we’ll have:

  • Fresh, creamy and delicious chevre—plain, herbs de Provence and cracked pepper
  • Fresh goat milk ricotta—this would be perfect for a pasta dish or served along with some sweetened strawberries and whipped cream!!
  • Sheep milk feta—think salad, think pasta, think olive oil drizzle and baguette bread
  • An assortment of bloomy rind cheeses including Angel Food, Little Bloom on the Prairie, Black Goat and the aforementioned Black Sheep
  • Moonglo—these are some of the last wheels of the fall milk batches so get it while it lasts. There will be a hiatus of Moonglo as the spring milk batches complete their aging process.

Nothing says holiday weekend better than gelato, so stock up for your weekend festivities. Just be sure to bring a cooler or an insulated bag so you can transport your gelato home safely and coolly. Here are some of the flavors you’re likely to encounter at the farmers’ market this weekend (there are others, but I can’t remember them all!!) Flavors with an asterisk are those making an appearance at the Green City Market as well as Urbana’s Farmers’ Market:

  • Vanilla
  • Chocolate
  • Hazelnut
  • **Honey-Ginger Ricotta
  • **Mint Ricotta (Stewart just can’t help himself on new flavors)
  • Ginger
  • Chocolate Mint Infusion
  • **Margot’s Fresh Mint
  • **Pumpkin Pie
  • **Dulce de Leche (goat milk caramel)

Our Cheese, Bread and Gelato CSA starts this week in Bloomington, Normal, Urbana-Champaign (at our farm), Peoria and Springfield. Next week will be the first pick up for Naperville. We’re looking forward to meeting our new members and seeing last year’s members as well. 

Our summer farm open house has started. Every Wednesday through mid-August, you can come out to the farm from 4 to 6PM to stroll the farm, visit with all the animals, savor a scoop or two of gelato and buy some great local foods products.  We’ll have our cheese and gelato for sale, of course, along with our goat milk soaps (made by Red Barn Farm) and hip t-shirts.  Tomahnous Farm (veggies, flowers, plants), Lucky Duck Farm (chicken and duck eggs, maybe meat), Stewart’s Artisan Breads and Laurence the Knife Dude will be here as well.  Bring your knives to be sharpened while you visit with the goats.  Where else can you do THAT!!??  Stay tuned for more details early next week. 

Posted 5/22/2013 9:36am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.

Greetings CSA members:
I negleted to include the start date for the Springfield CSA pickup. It's next Wednesday, May 29th at the Downtown Springfield Farmers' Market-Katic Bread booth. Please pick up your shares no later than 10AM so that they stay in peak cold condition (cheese and gelato especially).

thank you.