Several weeks ago, I had driven over to my neighbor's property to borrow some dishes and silverware for our upcoming farm dinner. On my way out of their long driveway in the woods, I spotted what appeared to be a young pig on their front lawn. I did a double take, thinking my tired eyes were deceiving me. It just had to be their standard poodle with a hair cut (and hair dye, because this pig looked grey, not white).
A week or two later, I got a moderately frantic call from my neighbor asking if we knew anything about a pig on the loose. Pig mirage confirmed; poodle squarely contained inside their house. The pig continued to roam their property, strolling contentedly from lawn to woods and back. It was small, perhaps a teenager, it was castrated, and it looked very well groomed. I surmised that it was someone's show pig that had somehow escaped on it's way to the IL state fair. He would allow people to approach but never close enough to touch him. He seemed content, relatively innocuous and amusingly bizarre until he started rooting in my neighbor's beautifully manicured lawn. The level of frantic escalated. The need for action was imminent. Operation Pig Capture began in earnest last Friday evening.
Wes and I searched the farm for a way to corral the pig. Amazingly, buried in the weeds behind the kid barns, he found a pig shoot, designed for holding and weighing pigs before taking them to market. The gates were a little stiff and rusty; nothing a little vegetable oil couldn't lubricate into functionality. We gathered some fallen apples from one of our apple trees and loaded everything into the back of the pick-up truck. Wes, our neighbor Mary, and I laid a trail of pig treats (apples, cracked corn and marshmallows) along the lawn to the entrance to the pig shoot. Mary set a lovely table with snacks and beer for Wes to enjoy while he waited for the pig to approach the cage. As the sun set, the pig emerged from back of the property and approached the trail of treats. He was headed inside the shoot/cage when someone drove up the driveway and startled him. He backed off and headed into the woods. Wes called it a night.
The next day, we moved the shoot/cage to the entrance of Mary's enclosed vegetable garden, again, laying a trail of apples, marshmallows and even animal crackers!! The pig did not take the bait, and did not even make an appearance on her property. Two days into Operation Pig Capture, the prospects were looking doubtful. We had spoken with a woman who had a pig rescue farm (aka a pig whisperer), and she had given us tips on how to try to capture the creature. Late Sunday morning, we got call from another neighbor saying they had spotted a pig in an adjacent neighbor's yard. It had laid waste to their prized Hosta plantings and they were distraught. Did this pig belong to us?? Absolutely NOT. It was now mid-day on Sunday and a gentleman walked into our farm store confirming the current whereabouts of the pig. He was a fourth neighbor's son-in-law. We called the pig whisperer. and she agreed to come meet us at the pig's location to help with the capture. One hour before she was set to arrive, we received notice that the pig had been captured. The fourth neighbor's son-in-law, his wife and their two daughters had lassoed him with tie-down strap and put him in a large dog crate. They calmed him down with water and treats, while everyone waited for the pig whisperer to arrive. She transferred the cage to her truck and took him to the University's Large Animal Clinic for health checks. The pig is now ensconced in his new forever home. It took a small village, but no bacon was made in the great neighborhood pig escapade.
Farmers' Market and Farm Happenings
This Saturday, come see us at the outdoor farmers' market, Urbana's Market at the Square. Our location is at the south end of the market in aisle two. Hours are 7 am to 12 noon. We have some amazing seasonal chevre flavors and gooey bloomy rind cheeses for you this weekend. We're also bringing some fresh Seckel pears, pear cider and yogurt smoothies!! Better come early if you want all these goodies!
Check out our seasonal chevre flavors this weekend: chevre with roasted garlic and peach-habanero.
Need some cheesy menu ideas for simple eating? How about a slice of little bloom on a wedge of apple or pear with a local honey drizzle? How about baked feta with olive oil, fresh herbs and peach jam? What about grilled eggplant topped with Ukrainian Farmhouse cheese mixed with a riot of fresh herbs? How about a slice of Moonglo, proscuitto and fresh melon??? Pelota Roja shaved over grilled sweetcorn anyone??? Don't feeling like cooking? Why not get a trio of cheeses and plan some simple no-cook grazing platters for the coming week. Simple, fun, and so satisfying!
Here's a simple open faced heirloom tomato sandwich with the peach-habanero chevre
photo courtesy of Laura Trovillion
If you want raw goat milk or gelato, you will need to come out to our farm store during open hours. You can also order from our online store for farm pickup. We'll be bringing the following cheeses to market:
Fresh chevre--plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper 2022 American Cheese Society Gold Medal and 2023 Bronze Medal winner!
Fresh chevre with roasted garlic
Fresh chevre with peach-habanero
Angel Food mini-brie-aging beautifully (also whole or half-wheels of the larger format brie style)
Little bloom on the prairie: mixed milk camembert-young, light-buttered mushroom flavor--great on a slice of apple, peach or pear with a drizzle of local honey. Alternatively, put a whole wheel on the grill--3 minutes per side to get some grill marks and smoky flavor going.
Prairie Fire: our smoked paprika + calendula flower adorned goat bloomy rind is back--limited availability this weekend, but more on the way.
Black goat: our ash-ripened bloomy with lovely earthy notes and a little bit o' funk-nice 'n gooey 20% with any additional cheese purchase; younger batch will be regular price
Fleur de la Prairie-all-goat bloomy rind with dried herbs and edible flowers-beautiful and delicious! 2022 American Cheese Society Gold Medal winner! nice 'n gooey 20% with any additional cheese purchase
Ukrainian Farmhouse Cheese-all cow milk, fresh cheese-great for sweet or savory applications-we are doing our former Ukrainian cheese maker, Tetyana, proud by continuing to make this popular fresh cheese.
Moonglo: raw goat milk tomme style semi-hard cheese--slightly nutty and fruity--perfect for slicing or melting 2023 ACS Silver Medal
Pelota Roja: raw goat milk "Spanish-style" hard cheese with guajillo chile-olive oil rub--sharp, slightly spicy and just plain scrumptious-slice it, shave it! Serve it with your favorite summer red wine! 2021 Good Food Award Winner
Feta in whey brine: crumble on a summer salad! Use the whey brine to marinate chicken or lamb! Put it on a pizza! 2023 ACS Bronze Medal
Goat milk yogurt (pints and quarts)-all natural, no thickening agents-use it as the base of a marinade, a salad dressing or just eat it with fresh fruit.
Goat milk yogurt smoothies (honey vanilla) and pints/quarts of pear cider will be available at the market too!
Farm Open Hours
Come visit us. We are open Saturdays and Sundays, 11 am to 5 pm. You can visit with the goats, taste our raw milk (and buy some to take home), shop our farm store for cheeses, accompaniments and unique gifts, enjoy a cheese board under our pavilion or grab a scoop of gelato. We are also offering wine/beer & cheese flights featuring three cheeses with three wines or micro-brews. Our wine & cheese flight features the three 2023 ACS winners-chevre frais, feta and moonglo! Our beer and cheese flight highlights some unusual regional microbrews alongside our cheeses and Great Lakes Potato Chips as the eating vessel--fun and delicious!
Please note: on Saturdays, we offer "build your own" cheese boards and flights starting at 12:30 pm until closing. On Sundays, they are available from 11-5.
Cool down and satisfy your sweet tooth cravings with our delicious and refreshing goat milk gelato and local fruit sorbettos! We usually offer four flavors to choose for scoops, and several flavors in pints for you to take home.
Our farm is great place to unwind, enjoy some great cheese and gelato and take in the natural surroundings that are so scarce in central Illinois. Our goat teenage girls are usually hanging around close to the barns and fences, waiting for your adoration. Our farm store is AIR CONDITIONED, so don't let any heat or humidity deter you from making a visit to the farm. We have raw goat milk for sale as well as a fantastic selection of cheese accompaniments (crackers, jams, sauces, pickles, wines, beers) as well as Joyful Wren pastured-poultry eggs, our goat milk soap (made for us exclusively by The Wright Soapery), tea towels and t-shirts. We just got a new set of t-shirts in with some new colors, so come check them out!!
In general, we plan to offer hikes every Saturday at 11 am. If it is too hot or if it's raining, we will postpone until Sunday at 11AM. Not sure if it's happening? Just check in with our staff when you arrive on Saturdays.
When hikes happen, join Wes or one of our rock star volunteers on a stroll along the eastern edge of our farm. It's a gorgeous part of the farm. The hike lasts for about 30-40 minutes and then we take you on a brief tour of the dairy. It ends with a scoop of gelato. $18/person includes the hike, a farm tour and a scoop of gelato at the end.
NO RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. HIKE STARTS PROMPTLY AT 11:00 am. SUITABLE FOR AGES 8 AND OLDER. WEAR STURDY SHOES FOR UNEVEN TERRAIN AND APPROPRIATE CLOTHING/HATS FOR THE WEATHER. WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO BRING A WATER BOTTLE AND SUNSCREEN TOO.
Want to order for farm pick up during the weekend? Need some raw goat milk? Eggs from Joyful Wren? Cheese? Just order from our Online Store for Farm Pick-Up. It's super easy!! Not local? You can still support us! You can order from our online retail store. We ship nationwide Mondays through Wednesdays every week. You can choose from one of our gift collections or just mix and match a la carte.