August is the time of year when I can catch my breath just a little bit. Typically, the goats’ milk production begins its slow decline in anticipation of breeding and pregnancy. This year, the heat waves have taken small bites out of their production, but not to the degree of declines in years past. We attribute this resiliency to our silvopasture; they stay cool under the shade of the cottonwood trees, eating away. We have been making cheese every day, sometimes multiple batches of cheese in a single day. When the milk volume drops, even a little bit, we are able to skip a chevre make once a week. The cascading effects of not making chevre one day afford me little windows of time to check out what is going on in other parts of the farm.
We finally got a generous douse of rain last night. Thankfully, we were spared the deluges of 6-9 inches that fell on many communities all around us. The deep cracks of the parched soil have closed up, and puddles dot the lawn and the driveway. The grapes on the arbor are ripening, albeit not evenly, but enough to snag a few grapes to enjoy under the dappled light of the arbor’s canopy. The herbs in the garden are flowering, attracting pollinators like the monarchs. No doubt, the monarchs have laid their eggs on the numerous volunteer milkweed plants in the garden, ensuring the perpetuation of the next generation. The heat and humidity have been kind to the sorghum-Sudan grass cover crop; it is now nearly as tall as our teenage goat girls. Thirsts quenched and temperatures conducive to maximum plant growth, the explosion of green-ness overnight is astounding.
Happenings this Weekend at the Farm and Beyond
Summer Weekend Wine & Cheese Flights
We have some great old favorites and some new wines in our store, and we’re excited to share them with you alongside our cheeses. So, from now through August (and maybe longer), our staff will pick a white, a rose and a red to pair with three of our cheeses each weekend. We’ll serve the wine & cheese flight with a rustic baguette bread from Publican Quality Breads in Chicago. $25/person (must be 21 or older) gets you this amazing flight with some surprises every weekend. All of our wines come from wineries and vineyards using sustainable agriculture practices; most are organic and/or biodynamic and/or regenerative. Just ask our staff for the details if you’re curious.
No need to reserve; just ask for the flight when you come to the farm store.
Book your reservations now for a very special cheese tasting event on Labor Day Weekend. We are super excited to welcome author and cheese lover Erika Kubick to the farm on Sunday, Sept. 4th from 5:30-7 pm. Join us for a transcendent “Cheese Church” service with author and cheese preacher Erika Kubick, in celebration of her book Cheese Sex Death: A Bible for the Cheese Obsessed! She’ll start off the class with a “sermon” on the basics of cheese worship before leading us through a tasting featuring 5 of our cheeses, each paired with an artisan accompaniment. After the class, you'll have the chance to shop at our farm store or pick up a copy of Erika’s book.
Tickets are $40, plus $5 for charcuterie. Beverages and gelato are available for purchase on site. Feel free to arrive early and play with the goats before class!
Farm Open Hours
This weekend (and all weekends through the end of the year) we’re open 11-5 both Saturday and Sunday. Shop our farm store and sample some of our award-winning cheeses. The weather is looking fantastic for an outing to the farm-a little warm and sunny—not too shabby for August.
Enjoy a cheese and charcuterie board under our pavilion with a bottle of organic and/or biodynamic wine or local microbrew. Want something cool? Try our delicious goat milk gelato! Of course, there is lots of opportunity to engage with the goats—the mommas and the babies LOVE visitors. We recently moved the pen of the teenage goat girls, so come check them out and feed them some tree leaves!!
The secret ingredient to our amazing cheeses and gelato is our MILK! You too can experience our milk in its purest form! Our milk super fresh (usually less than one day old) and clean. We are permitted to sell raw milk from the farm (Illinois Dept. of Public Health). Curious what it tastes like? We will have samples for you to try-just ask.
If you don’t have time to peruse our farm store, but you need some milk or cheese or accompaniments, you can always order from our online store for pick up at the farm during weekend open hours. Just let us know if you’re picking up on Saturday or Sunday in the “NOTES” section (before checking out).
NEWS FLASH: WE HAVE A LIMITED OFFERING OF GELATO PINTS FOR ORDERING ONLINE-CHOCOLATE, MINT AND VANILLA. BETTER ORDER SOON AS THESE WILL GO FAST!
We’ve also got some great local products, including artisan jams, local honey, preserves and salamis. Check out the gorgeous eggs from fellow AWA (Animal Welfare Approved) certified eggs from Joyful Wren Farm. They are equally beautiful on the inside (bright orange means they are definitely eating grass) as well as the outside. I eat them every day!!
The farm is open on weekends RAIN OR SHINE! We have ample seating inside our farm store if you want to stay and enjoy a cheese & charcuterie board. Our store is AIR-CONDITIONED!
Urbana’s Market at the Square
From 7-12 each Saturday, you can stock up on great produce, meats, eggs and of course PFFC cheeses. Shop the market this Saturday and snag some berries (blueberries, blackberries) AND PEACHES!!! Melons are just started to make an appearance, which means it is the start of melon-feta salad season!!
Tomatoes, delicate cucumbers and sweetcorn are definitely on the scene, as well as summer squashes and eggplants—cheese should definitely be on your list, and you can prepare simple dishes with what’s in season alongside our cheeses, especially our chevre and feta. Melons are showing up too, so break out your favorite recipe for watermelon-feta salad. I’m all about grilling lots of veggies and then adorning with either chevre or feta or BOTH!! I’m also about making giant salads that are adorned with chevre or feta. How about lightly grilling a little bloom on the prairie or an angel food mini-brie? How about one of our bloomies on a burger?
PLEASE NOTE: OUR LOCATION AT THE MARKET HAS CHANGED FROM YEARS’ PAST. WE ARE STILL LOCATED ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE MARKET, BUT WE ARE NEXT TO ILLINIOIS WILLOWS (AT THE SOUTH END OF AISLE TWO).
Here's the lineup of cheeses and dairy product you can expect to find in our farm store and at the farmers’ market:
Pelota Roja!!! Our raw goat’s milk “Spanish Style” cheese!! First batches of the season made with early spring milk. The flavor is sharp and nutty, the texture is firm, crumbly yet supple—perfect for shaving or grating. You can also just slice it and eat it with a big hunk of local salami and smear of local mustard. YUM YUM YUM!! Now that it’s sweetcorn season, try grating and blending with crumbled feta, smoked paprika and salt and slather over grilled sweetcorn. You will never eat corn any other way! 2021 Good Food Award Winner
Fresh Chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper 2022 American Cheese Society 1st Place Medal!
Seasonal chevre flavor: jalapeño crunch-finely diced local fresh jalapeño peppers blended into our award-winning fresh chevre-slightly crunchy, gentle heat—this one perfect for the hot days of august!
Mixed milk feta in whey brine-salad season is upon us. Try crumbling feta over grilled buttered sweetcorn with chili powder or smoked paprika (Mexican style)! How about a feta-melon salad---the combination of salt-savory with sweet is irresistible!
Artisan Cottage Cheese: this is NOT your “grocery store” cottage cheese-rich, golden yellow and creamy-stuff some peppers and roast with melty cheese on top (like Pelota Roja!!) or make a pasta salad. Last chance for cottage cheese! We are discontinuing production.
Little bloom on the prairie: Mixed milk camembert style- young this week—put this baby on burger and you’re set!
Angel Food: mixed milk mini-brie—aging nicely, and perfect for enjoying with sliced tomatoes and fresh basil! Our answer to caprese salad! We’ve got some wedges of large-format Angel Food that we are selling with either honey or a blueberry compote
Black Goat: All goat ash-ripened bloomy rind; aging nicely 2021 NY International Cheese Competition Silver Medal Winner!
Fleur de la Prairie: All goat milk bloomy with dried herbs and edible flowers-aging beautifully! We have a few larger wheels that were dusted with smoked paprika and edible flower/herbs-come early for those beauties 2021 Good Food Award Winner AND 2022 American Cheese Society First Place Winner!
Goat milk Yogurt (both pints and quarts); we’ll also be selling some house-made granola and small jars of honey to go with the pint size yogurt if you’re looking for a healthy breakfast option to enjoy at the market.
Raw goat milk (half gallons or quarts)-farm store only
Not local? No problem. You can order our cheeses and gift boxes from our online store.