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An abundance of apex predators

Farm News

Exit august-enter september. There is a distinct change to the repertoire of bird calls in the morning. Melodic wood thrush and oriole songs have given way to blue jay alarms, wood pecker screeches and red tail hawk predator warnings. The goldenrod bend in the amber beauty with the weight of mating grasshoppers.


In the herb garden, the lush tomato vines and overgrown mint stalks provide scaffolding for the multitude of webs of the orb spiders. Nearly every spot in the garden has been claimed. Like the hawks perusing our autumn skies, these are the apex predators of the garden. They spin their telltale zigzag webs and wait for an unsuspecting insect to fly or crawl into their threads. Within seconds, they have wrapped the poor creature in a perfect ball of web twine, preserving this tender morsel for their next meal. While butterflies may be a casualty of their predation, the orb spiders are cherished on our farm for their voracious consumption of flies, cucumber beetles and other insect pests. There is plenty for everyone to eat.

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. Stock up on cheeses for the holiday weekend. Cook with our cheeses, grill them (little bloom on the grill anyone?), serve them up in a simple cheese board. Everything tastes better with a little PFFC cheese by its side!!

Check out our seasonal chevre flavors this weekend: chevre with lavender-infused honey AND NEW: french onion chevre (featuring dehydrated caramelized onions). We are super excited about these seasonal flavors, and we know you all are loving them too!


Need some cheesy menu ideas for simple summer eating? How about a slice of angel food on a wedge of apple or pear with a honey drizzle? How about a feta-watermelon salad? What about baked zucchini or eggplant stuffed 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 really simple end of summer salad from NY Times Cooking featuring fresh chevre:

Heirloom tomato and Peach Salad with Whipped Goat Cheese (photo from NY Times Cooking)


INGREDIENTS

Yield:4 servings

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard, preferably Maille brand

  • ½ teaspoon fresh lemon zest, plus 2 teaspoons juice

  • Kosher salt and black pepper

  • ¼ small red onion, very thinly sliced

  • 4 ounces soft goat cheese or feta--PFFC of course

  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream

  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes (about 14 ounces total), cored and cut into 1-inch wedges (let drain so not so watery on the plate)

  • 2 medium peaches (about 12 ounces), halved, pitted and cut into ½-inch wedges (let drain so not so watery on the plate)

  • 1 packed cup torn purslane, mâche or watercress (optional)OR fresh herbs (basil, parsley, tarragon)

PREPARATION

1. Step 1

In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, mustard and lemon juice. Season generously with salt and pepper, stir in the red onion and set aside.

2. Step 2

Crumble the goat cheese into the bowl of a food processor and whip until creamy, scraping down the sides of the work bowl as needed, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the heavy cream and lemon zest and whip just until fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl as needed. Transfer to a bowl and season to taste with salt.

3. Step 3

Spread the whipped goat cheese on a large serving platter or in shallow bowl, distributing it evenly using the back of a spoon. Add the tomato wedges, peach wedges and purslane to the dressing and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place on top of the whipped goat cheese and serve immediately.

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 lavender-infused honey

  • Fresh chevre with "french onion" seasoning

  • 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.

  • Black goat: our ash-ripened bloomy with lovely earthy notes and a little bit o' funk

  • Fleur de la Prairie-all-goat bloomy rind with dried herbs and edible flowers-beautiful and delicious! 2022 American Cheese Society Gold Medal winner!

  • 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.

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.


GELATO!!

Cool down with our delicious and refreshing goat milk gelato and local fruit sorbettos! Celebrate the summer winddown this weekend with a large scoop of gelato under the pavilion.


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 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.

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.

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