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A winter solstice of mixed emotions

Farm News

On this shortest day of the year, the finality of the season is upon us. The breeding bucks have moved back to their bachelor barn on the south farm. The milking does filed into the parlor for their last milking and dry off this morning. Our final batch of chevre is fermenting peacefully in the cheese vat. The frenetic pace of work is subsiding.

While we have much to celebrate this year, our joy has been muted by the sudden death of our beloved farm dog, Blue. Yesterday afternoon, he sustained a severe leg injury for which there was no humane recovery. Senior in years, and debilitated with arthritis, his spirit was as bright as the day he came to the farm. Nearly 10 years ago, Blue came into our lives unplanned and by chance. We were his fourth owners in less than one year, and his last best hope for a good life. His cattle dog genetics were a poor match for the city folk who were smitten by his piercing blue eyes. As a one-year old, he was exploding with uncontrolable energy. He needed the open spaces of our farm and the intimidation of our goats to begin to tame his manic spirit. We tried to train him to herd the goats, but a few head butts from the herd boss does and the bared teeth of our guardian donkey quashed our efforts.

As he gradually realized that he was home, he began to find his purpose on the farm. With is winning personality and good looks, he gravitated toward the role of farm greeter. He would welcome guests to the farm and run circles around the dining pavilion when guests clapped at the end of the meal. He would deposit sticks in front of unsuspecting visitors, coaxing them into playing a never ending game of throw and fetch. He escorted tour groups around the farm, captivating school children with his intense stare. One curious child once asked Wes, "does that dog ever blink?"

Blue was ever so protective of his baby goats. Kidding season was his favorite time of year. He would "clean" (a bit vigorously at times) the birth fluid off the new born kids, and lick the milk off their faces after they took their first bottle. If he heard a kid cry in a way that signaled something was wrong, he would bark and come looking for someone to tend to the kids in distress.

We learned of his true genetic "identity" a few years after we got him. We had been told that he was an Australian cattle dog-shepherd cross. Since he didn't have the strong instincts for herding, we were always suspicious of this claim. It was not until we raised hogs for one of our "100 Yard" Farm Dinners, did we come to know that he was a cattle dog-Catahoula cross. During pig feeding time, Blue would go into a frenzy circling the hog pen and chasing after the hogs if he got inside. We were puzzled by his enthusiasm for hogs until a farmer friend attending a farm dinner, remarked that he looked like a Catahoula. We had never heard of this breed, as it is not common in the north. It is a breed developed in Louisiana to hunt/retrieve hogs in the wild. Instantly, the mysteries of his conflicted personality traits were revealed.

Blue loved food of all kinds, especially food that had been rotting in a compost pile for several days. During a family picnic event, he notoriously stole a piece of pizza out the mouth of a toddler without her even realizing what had happened. He grabbed an entire leg of lamb off the grill during a farm dinner. He would sneak off to our neighbors, charm his way into their house, gladly accepting dog food and treats for months. We only realized what he was up to when he had gained 12 pounds in less than one year!

Our fondest memories of Blue's raison d'etre are his driveway vehicle escorts, carrying a 12 ft. 2'x 4' "stick" perfectly balanced in his jaws. As our truck or car pulled onto the street, he would circle back to the farm, never letting the beam touch the ground. He was our companion during times of hardship and triumph, always greeting us with a vigorous bobbed tail wag, even as arthritis took away the spring in his jot. His loss has left a giant hole in our hearts. We know many of our farm patrons will miss him too. If you have pictures or stories you care to share about Blue, please send through the comments section of the blog post.

Last Minute Holiday Shopping Farm Sale

The farm's last full open day is this Saturday, 12/23, from 11 am to 5 pm. Everything in the store is 15% off, some items are even more discounted. Come out to shop, enjoy a cheese grazing box and a cup of hot chocolate or hot apple cider, visit with the goats and take in the farm in early winter.

We'll have the following cheeses available for sale on Saturday:

  • Moonglo: Our raw goat milk tomme style cheese. Fall milk makes this batch super flavorful--nutty, fruity, supple in texture. Grab a wedge!

  • Pelota Roja: Our raw goat milk Spanish style hard cheese-guajillo chile-olive oil rub on the rind--sharp, piquant, great for grating, shaving or slicing! Perfect for shaving over a winter greens salad!

  • Fresh chevre--plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper 2022 American Cheese Society Gold Medal and 2023 Bronze Medal winner!

  • Seasonal chevre flavors: roasted garlic and everything bagel

  • Angel Food: mixed milk mini brie small rounds and large wheels available this week 30% off ripe & gooey ones

  • Little bloom on the prairie-mixed milk camembert-sytle bloomy rind- nice and gooey and DELICIOUS!! 30% off ripe ones We will have puff pastry for "Brie en Croute" too!!

  • Feta in whey brine: crumble on hearty stew or chili! Use the whey brine to marinate chicken or lamb! Put it on a pizza! 2023 ACS Bronze Medal

Holiday Cheese Platters

If you are entertaining this holiday season, consider ordering holiday cheese platters for pick up at the farm. We are offering two sizes-medium rectangle platter and large round. Please include a note in your order indicating the time you would like to pick up your order. Ordering deadline for Christmas is Friday, 12/22 at 9 am. Pre-Christmas pick up on Sat. 12/23 11-5 pm Order for New Year's by 9 am, Friday, 12/29; pick up Sat. 12/30, 11 am to 1 pm

Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery-Fresh Picks Cheese Board Collaboration

For those of you in the Chicagoland area who have been wondering where to find PFFC cheeses, look no further. Fresh Picks, a home delivery service featuring local and organic foods, carries a lovely assortment of our cheeses. You can order a la carte OR, even better, you can order a local cheese board featuring our cheeses, local charcuterie and accompaniments. You can even order wine to go with it!!



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What a beautiful tribute to Blue. It brought tears to my eyes. I loved having him greet me each time I came to work in the office. Sometimes he would even come up and lay with me.

i am sending hugs and love to Wes and Leslie. I know he hard it’s to lose a believed part of your family. Judi 🩵


Thank you Judi for your kind words. He was a one-of-a-kind dog.


My children and I were new volunteers to the farm last kidding season, and being the dog lovers we were (are), we found comfort when we crossed paths with Blue. Prairie Fruits Farm helped Blue find his purpose, and Blue helped Prairie Fruits Farm maintain their purpose. What a beautiful and symbiotic relationship! A devastating loss framed by a life well lived.


We are so incredibly saddened to hear about Blue. He was beloved by all the farm patrons and truly was the warmest host for us all. There are times when you attend social events and don't feel especially social and he was there to spend time with, to pet and to watch. He will be greatly missed.

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