News

Welcome to Leslie's Blog.
Posted 5/14/2010 10:11am by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Greetings cheese lovers:
It's the time of year we start adding farmers' markets to our repertoire. This Saturday--yes that is TOMORROW--we'll be attending the Urbana Farmers' Market and the Chicago Green City Market. Both start at 7AM and Urbana ends at noon, while Green City continues until 1PM.
We'll be offering you the following cheeses:
  • Our wonderfully fluffy chevre--plain, herbs de Provence and cracked peppercorn
  • Angel Food--the brie style goat cheese
  • Little Bloom on the Prairie --our goat milk camembert style cheese
  • Krotovina--a lovely pyramid mold-ripened cheese that has a layer of sheep milk curd and a layer of goat milk curd separated by a very thin layer of vegetable ash
  • Ewe Bloom--our soft ripened sheep milk cheese
  • Prairie Dropseed--our blended milk geo-mold rind cheese--looks like a little snow ball.

We look forward to seeing you tomorrow.
Thank you for your patronage.
Posted 5/6/2010 9:30pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Mothers' day means a lot to me here on the farm. I have become the surrogate "mother" of over 100 baby goats this year.  Each one has his/her personality, some stronger than others, some with markings that make you marvel at genetics and some so fiesty that they make you laugh.  This is the great thing about having a goat dairy. Every year we get two plus months of "mothers' day." Well, all those babies have brought an abundance of milk, and we've been busy transforming that milk into an array of different cheeses for you to enjoy at the markets. 
little fawn baby
We're debuting a new bloomy rind cheese this weekend at the Urbana Farmers' Market. We call it "Prairie Dropseed," named after that beautiful prairie plant with a delicate raceme of seeds blowing in the wind.  Some of you may recall a cheese by that name that made the roster last year. Well, this one is different: it's our first true "mixed milk" cheese-blending sheep and goat milk in the cheese vat, adding a bit of geo white mold to the milk, ladling it like our chevre and then forming it into beautiful balls that develop a thin crinkly ivory rind after about 10 days. It is aged for a total of two weeks and has a nice creamy texture reminiscent of our chevre, but is more crumbly. Try it on a salad of local spring greens or crumble it on top of your favorite pasta dish. It makes an excellent Mothers' Day gift.
Prairie Dropseed
We also have the following other cheeses for you to enjoy:
Chevre of course--plain, herbs de Provence and cracked pepper
Black sheep--another "experimental" cheese-soft ripened with ash coating on the outside--all sheep milk. It is more firm and mild compared to Ewe Bloom. You can really taste the milk in this cheese.
Angel Food-gooey as ever
Little Bloom on the Prairie--what can I say--it's becoming a classic
Krotovina-the best of two milks separated by ash in a lovely little pyramid
Mollisol Pecorino--our raw sheep milk Pecorino Romano style cheese that we have been aging patiently for about one year. It's got a nice nutty and sharp flavor-excellent for grating or shaving over some roasted asparagus or rapini (Blue Moon Farm has some killer good rapini right now).
We also have a few very ripe Red Dawn--get them while supplies last.
For those of you in Chicago, don't despair. We will starting the Green City Farmers' Market next Saturday, May 15th. I look forward to reconnecting with our Chicago customers soon.
We have been graced with some amazing warm sunny spring days these past few weeks. The bees have been very busy pollinating our fruit, and if all goes well, we're expecting an excellent berry and tree fruit crop this year. Stay tuned.
Happy Mothers' Day and Happy Spring!
Posted 4/29/2010 9:24pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Greatings cheese lovers and local food advocates:
It is finally here; the first farmers' market of the season. Urbana's Market at the Square will open it's "doors" at 7AM this Saturday May 1st.  We will be there in our usual spot--row 4 on the east end of the Market.  Please don't forget, that day is also the Illinois Marathon, so traffic might be blocked for awhile. I believe you can find out the marathon route by going to the either the Illinois Marathon website or the Urbana Market at the Square website. 
We'll be bringing the following cheeses to the market:
Fresh Chevre (of course)
Angel Food--our gooey brie-like goat milk cheese
Little Bloom on the Prairie
Red Dawn-a soft ripened goat milk cheese dusted in smoked paprika (tastes like barbeque!!)
Ewe Bloom-our soft ripened sheep milk cheese
Krotovina-a lovely delicate pyramid that is half goat milk and half sheep milk separated by a thin layer of vegetable ash.
To tempt you to the market, here is a photo of Red Dawn


For those of you who aren't able to make it to the Urbana Farmers' Market this Saturday, rest assured. You can still purchase our cheese at select locations throughout Champaign-Urbana (Common Ground Food Coop, Strawberry Fields, World Harvest, Schnucks) and Chicago (Pastoral, Marion Street Cheese Market, lots of restaurants and other retail stores including Whole Foods).
Stay tuned for more information about other farmers' markets we'll be doing this year.
Posted 4/22/2010 8:04pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Quick addition to my earlier newsletter: I forgot to mention that we will be selling our cheeses at the last indoor Green City Market at the Peggy Notebart Nature Museum. Saturday April 24th from 8AM to 1PM. The same cheeses will be available as those we have for farm sales. Cesar will be there to greet you.  So, if you can't make it down to Champaign Urbana this weekend, please visit us at the Green City Market. It is still "Cheese Month" at the market. Check out all the artisan cheese producers there. The outdoor Green City Market doesn't start until May 15th, so stock up.
Posted 4/22/2010 7:09pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Farm News
Things were relatively quiet on the farm this week.  No new births, but lots of planting going on. The weather and the soil presented perfect conditions for planting, and we were out there along side our cash grain neighbors (except our tractors and planters are either human size or about one tenth the size of the corn planters).  Aaron, our herdsman, planted a new field with alfalfa and oats as a nurse crop. We're also experimenting with planting sorghum-sudan grass--a very fast growing forage crop--in one of our pasture paddocks this year to help control goat intestinal parasites.  Aaron was busy planting that seed too. Kris, our orchardist, was busy digging holes and planting several dozen new fruit trees. As I write, Wes is out in the last hours of daylight trying to get the last of the cherry trees planted before the rains come tonight. We welcome the rains. Unlike last year, the soil is actually getting dry right now, and all the seed, berries and trees we have planted could use a deep drink right about now.
We're busy in the cheeserie cranking out lots of batches of chevre, bloomy rind cheeses and raw milk cheeses in anticipation of farmers' market season. It is nearly upon us--Urbana's Market at the Square starts one week from this Saturday, May 1st! 
Open House, Sales, Breakfast
SO, farmers' market season means an end to our on farm open houses, sales and breakfasts. This Saturday, April 24th from 9AM to 12 noon is your last chance this year to come out to the farm to enjoy an all local foods breakfast and see the baby goats.  
We will have the following cheeses available for sale:
Fresh Chevre
Little Bloom on the Prairie (our goat milk camembert style cheese)
Angel Food (our goat milk brie--it's gooey as ever!)
Ewe Bloom (our soft-ripened sheep milk cheese)
Don't forget to pick up one of our stylish organic cotton "Community Supported Goat" T-shirts ($15 each).
Both Tomahnous Farm and Blue Moon Farm will be here as well.  Tomahnous is bringing asparagus, chard, rhubarb, lettuce, herbs, spinach, flour & goat milk soap. Blue Moon Farm finally has salad mix! They will also probably be bringing asparagus. They will definitely have Swiss chard, Red Russian kale, White Russian kale, Green kale, Red kale, rapini, and radishes.


What's For Breakfast you ask patiently?:
  • Raisin Bread French Toast with Spence Farm Maple Syrup
  • Blue Moon Farm Asparagus and Mill Creek Farm Mushroom Strada
  • Hot Buttermilk Biscuits with Butter and Honey
  • Assorted other baked treats
  • Organic Banana Yogurt Smoothie
  • Mexican style goat milk hot chocolate
  • Fair Trade Coffee
For more details about the farm and the breakfasts, visit our website: www.prairiefruits.com
Posted 4/16/2010 12:05pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Apple blossoms

The thing about spring is it's intensity.  Wednesday of this week epitomized intensity.  I started the day ladling chevre and transferring another tank load of milk for making Little Bloom on the Prairie and Angel Food.  In the midst of cheese making, our orchardist, Kris, called me to say that Chippewa ("Chippy as she is known affectionately to many) was in labor and it looked like a breach. I rushed out of the cheeserie, donned my coveralls and ran into the barn to find her on the ground, screaming at the top of her lungs in pain. Indeed, the first kid's tail was sticking out of her back side. I put on my elbow-length OB gloves, squirted on the OB lube and betadine and put my hand inside her to grab the legs. It took awhile to reposition the kid to get both legs out, but as soon as I did, I was able to pull out the first kid-a healthy large boy.  I could feel the head of the next kid as I was repositioning the first, so I waited after the first trauma subsided for a normal delivery. She started to push shortly after the first kid came out, and again started screaming with pain. Something was not right. More betadine and OB lube and back in I went to find the second kid's head twisted completely backwards and the front legs oriented backwards as well. This is a challenging position to correct, and I tried to maneuver the head towards the exit to no avail. Every time I tried, Chippy pushed harder down on my hands in contraction.  She was getting exhausted by the minute, so I let her rest before attempt to reposition the kid. After several failed attempts to turn the kids head around, I pushed it all the way back into her uterus. At that moment, Chippy relaxed her contractions, and I was able to pull the head into the proper position.  After a bit more manipulations and a lot more screaming from Chippy, I was finally able to pull the second kid out-another huge boy! The third kid slid out in normal position-another huge boy!  All that drama for three buck kids!!  Poor Chippy was thoroughly wasted from the ordeal, and I milked her out practically lying down.  I am happy to report that all three kids and mother are doing just fine.

No time to waste, after serving as midwife, I cleaned myself up (I was totally covered in birth fluid) and dashed back into the cheeserie to cut the curd and ladle it into Little Bloom molds.  Then, it was time to get the Chicago cheese orders together to take to Tiny Greens to take up in their veggie-oil powered refrigerated truck.  Back home I drove to get milk ready to feed the kids.  As the sun descended in the early evening sky, I took in the flowering fruit trees and the smell of growing green grass. A typical day comes to an end.


So, you want to know what's for breakfast this Saturday, April 17th and what cheeses we have for you for sale, right?

Breakfast Offerings

  • Moore Family Farm Cornmeal Johnny Cakes with Spence Farm Maple Syrup
  • Tomahnous Farm fresh egg, chevre, Blue Moon Farm spinach bagel sandwich
  • Blue Moon Farm hash browned potatoes
  • Assorted scones and coffee cakes
  • Goat Milk "Cajeta" and Apple Lassi (an Indian-style yogurt drink)
  • Goat milk hot chocolate
  • Fair trade Coffee

Cheese Offerings
Chevre-plain, herbed, cracked pepper
Our first of the season "Little Bloom on the Prairie" they are a bit young, but very enjoyable
Moonglo--our raw milk tomme made last December. This is the last of the Moonglo until June, so get some while limited supplies last. 

Tomahnous Farm will be here with their greens, shitake mushrooms, eggs and other early spring veggies. Blue Moon Farm will not be here this week (they're selling pre-orders behind the Coop), but they will return next Saturday.


Next Saturday, April 24th is our last farm open-house of the season, so if you haven't had a chance to come out to see the baby goats, eat a fabulous local food breakfast or buy some great early season local foods, the time is NOW. 

For more information about the breakfasts, etc. visit our website: www.prairiefruits.com under "The Experience".  You'll find information about hours, NO need for reservations, price ranges, etc.
We look forward to seeing you here.



Posted 4/8/2010 8:42pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Farm News
Apricot trees in bloom
The apricots bloomed this week--maybe this will be the year we actually get some fruit!
This week
, we started weaning our oldest crop of kids. It's hard to believe they are already six weeks old, eating lots of grain and hay and weighing over 20 pounds!! They still behave like kids, though, and the little ones are still there to remind me of how small they are when they're born.  You can come visit them this Saturday and every Saturday morning through the end of April during our Open House--9AM to 12 Noon.
For those of you who have signed up for our Community Supported Goat (CSG) Program, I wanted to let you know that those folks who haven't received their certificate of support (with a picture of your goat) and an organic cotton CSG T-shirt, don't despair. I will be sending those out next week. Things have been a bit hectic here on the farm over the past month or so, and I promise you will "get your goat" very soon.  All CSG members will receive their first shipment or delivery of cheese along with an update about your goat in early May. 
Farmers Market Items
This week, we'll have our on-farm sales AND we'll be attending the indoor Green City Market at the Peggy Notebart Nature Museum (Cannon Drive just north of Fullerton). The hours for the indoor Green City Market are 8AM to 1PM. April is "Celebrate Cheese" month at the Green City Market, so be sure to stop by and patronize all the cheese vendors on Saturday April 10th and April 24th. There will be chef demos crafting recipes with cheeses from several of the cheese vendors at the market.
What do we have for you this Saturday?
  • Chevre (of course)--it's still as light, creamy and lemony as a spring morning
  • Ewe Bloom-we debuted our first batch of Ewe Bloom during our on-farm sales last Saturday, and it was a big hit.  It is tart, a bit yeasty, gooey on the edges and creamy on the inside.  Enjoy with some crusty bread and fruit preserves
  • Moonglo--we made a couple of very late lactation batches of Moonglo in late December, and they are now ripe and ready to enjoy.
  • Huckleberry Blue-very limited quantities of our nutty, raw goat milk blue. 
If you're coming to the farm, Blue Moon Farm will be here with their array of spring greens such as kales, spinach, chard, etc.  Tomahnous Farm will be here too with her eggs (better get here early if you want some, because we're using a lot of them in our breakfasts), gorgeous Swiss Chard, spring onions and Shitake mushrooms.
What's For Breakfast this Saturday
bread from the oven
  • Tomahnous Farm egg and chard strada made with Alisa's homemade wholewheat bread
  • House made buttermilk buscuits and gravy with Triple S Farm sausage
  • Jarrell family walnut strusel coffee cake
  • Meyer lemon-poppy seed coffee cake
  • Mexican style goat milk hot chocolate
  • Fair Trade Coffee
Breakfast, as always, is  first-come-first-served-NO RESERVATIONS REQUIRED-from 9AM to 12 noon.
The weather should be gorgeous on Saturday. We look forward to seeing you.
Posted 3/31/2010 2:11pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Spring is literally in the wind today, warm winds are whipping across our wet prairie soils, drying them out so we can plant our strawberries and reseed our pastures.  It feels good. 
The goats are looking longingly at the pasture, and soon it will be dry and tall enough for them to go out for their first fresh forage.  To date, 52 does have kidded and we have another 20-25 left to go. They are producing a lot of milk, and we are in full cheese making production now. Our sheep dairy is also in full production, so this is the time of year that we're flush with milk.
For this coming Saturday, April 3rd, we will again host our open house breakfasts and cheese sales: 9AM to 12 Noon. We will have our fresh chevre and our yogurt for sale this week. If you have friends or family in town this weekend for the holidays, what better way to show off the beautiful countryside of Champaign County--come on out for a delicious local food breakfast, see the goats and buy some cheese.
We had a record crowd last week, and we thank everyone for coming out and tolerating the lines to order breakfast. In anticipation of bigger crowds, we will have more staff on hand this week to take breakfast orders and prepare the food. So, you shouldn't have to wait very long for your breakfast. It may even be warm enough for you to eat outside. 
The menu for this week includes delicious local treats:
  • Triple S Farms corned-beef and Blue Moon Farm potato hash with Tomahnous Farm poached egg
  • Prairie Fruits Farm goat-sheep milk yogurt parfait with house-made granola and Spence Farm maple syrup
  • Moore Family farm corn bread with bacon and chevre
  • Michigan dried cherry scones
  • Mollisol pecorino and red pepper jelly scones
  • Fair trade coffee and herbal teas
Tomahnous Farm will be here too with greens, eggs, shallots and other early season veggies. Blue Moon Farm will not be at the farm this Saturday, but they will be selling produce PRE-ORDERED in the hallway behind the Common Ground Food Coop, also from 9AM to 12 noon. If you want to order veggies or our cheese from them, you'll need to fill  out their on-line order form. Below is an email message from Blue Moon Farm that explains how their ordering process works, including a link to their order form. .  The deadline for sending in your order with them is TODAY at 11PM, so act now if you want to get Blue Moon Farm Vegetables.

HERE'S THE MESSAGE FROM BLUE MOON FARM

Hello everyone,

We've got new greenery on our list for you. Besides the old favorites of cilantro and spinach, we're putting White Russian kale, Red Russian kale and Perpetual Spinach on the list. We will be bringing Red kale, chard, collards and parsley to sell as extras. We've also got more carrots and potatoes.

This week we're including cheese from Prairie Fruits Farm on the order form.


Our pickup location will be at Lincoln Square Mall, in the indoor eating area of the Common Ground Food Co-op. If this is your first time ordering with us, please read the detailed instructions below the link.

Click Here to Order


Here's how it works:
  • You click on the survey and answer the questions. You have to answer the first two, which are your first and last name. After you answer the questions, you click "Done". That automatically saves your order.  You have to fill it out by Wednesday night.
  • Then you show up between 9-12 on Saturday at the delivery location, which is in the indoor eating area outside the Common Ground Food Co-op in Lincoln Square Mall. You get there by going out the back door of the Co-op, or entering the mall in the Health Alliance area, east side of the mall. There is no pre-pay, folks just pay when they pick up their veggies.
  • Also, we don't bag the order beforehand. When you get there, you find your name on one of the order clipboards, review your order and cross your name off. Then, using one of the scales, you can bag your veggies, trying to get the weight around what you ordered (it doesn't have to be exact), and then bring your order to our scale, and we'll figure out the price from there.
  • That's it!
See you all on Saturday and thanks for your participation!
Posted 3/25/2010 8:55pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
If the pleasure of seing baby goats and enjoying some of our fresh chevre isn't enough for you, the menu for this Saturday's breakfast is in:
  • Bread Pudding French Toast
  • Frittata made with our eggs, chevre, Blue Moon Farm potatoes, Triple S Farms bacon and our sundried tomatoes (from last season)
  • Three Sisters Garden rolled oats meal served with Jarrell family walnuts and Spence Farm maple syrup
  • Pontius Farm blueberry scones
  • Prairie Fruits Farm Mollisol Pecorino scones with red pepper jelly and chives
  • Oatmeal bread toast, house-made bagels and flavored chevre spreads
  • Masala chai tea
  • Fair trade coffee
The weather should be better than it was today, so we look forward to seeing you here.
Happy Spring!
Posted 3/23/2010 12:08pm by Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell.
Hello Local Food Lovers:
Lots of news to report for this weekend.  We are hosting our on-farm open house this Saturday, March 27th again, from 9AM to 12 noon.  We'll be featuring some great local foods breakfast items (menu is still a work in progress), our creamy lemony chevre, our "Huckleberry Blue" cheese (a creamy, nutty goat milk blue), and our "Mollisol" Pecorino (a sharp, grating style cheese made with raw sheep milk and aged for about one year).  We also have our goat milk cajeta (mexican style caramel sauce with cinnamon) and our "Community Supported Goat" t-shirts made with organic cotton.  The back of the t-shirts is sure to be a conversation piece among your friends.
Both Blue Moon Farm and Tomahnous Farm will be here to sell their spring vegetables (see Blue Moon Farm announcement below).
FOR OUR CHICAGO CUSTOMERS: We will also be attending the winter Green City Market in Chicago at the Peggy Notebart Nature Museum (8AM to 1PM; location is at corner of Fullerton and Canon Drive).  We'll have the same wonderful cheeses for sale there as we do for our farm sales.  We know our absence in Chicago has been long, and we're happy to bring you our spring cheese offerings again. 
FARM NEWS: We're up to just over 70 baby goats so far with a little more than half the herd (46 does) kidded. Sunday was an especially busy day--7 does kidded, some with twins, others with just one and a couple with triplets. I was covered with birth fluid pretty much all day! All kids are happy and healthy. Come visit them during our SAT. open houses.  You will be mezmerized.
P.S. Dinners are going fast, so if you're a procrastinator, better act sooner rather than later.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Blue Moon Farm <bluemoonfarmurbana@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Mar 22, 2010 at 11:16 AM
Subject: Blue Moon Market at Prairie Fruits Farm 3/27
To:

Hi everyone,
We've got lots of fresh, green veggies this week. In addition to the usual suspects of spinach and cilantro, we've got Red Russian, White Russian, Green, and Red kale, Swiss chard, collards, perpetual spinach, parsley, carrots and many potato varieties for this Saturday
The pickup/market location will be at Prairie Fruits farm, from 9-12: directions to Prairie Fruits. Crops are limited, we're not sending an order form this week, so show up early to get the good stuff.
Prairie Fruits Farm is also offering great breakfasts from 9-12 on Saturdays (delicious, according to several customers who raved about it last Saturday) as well as baby goat viewings. Produce from Tomahnous farm will also be there.
Based on all the feedback we've gotten regarding pickup location, and based on our crop quantities, we've decided to do alternating weeks at our regular  Lincoln Square Mall (outside the food co-op), and Prairie Fruits. We'll be back at Lincoln Square the first Saturday in April, and you'll get an order form for that beforehand.
As usual, we welcome all feedback.

Thanks to all!
Blue Moon Farm