In the early midlife of our farm, we decided to grow our own hay. We were younger, our herd manager was a dairy farm kid, our neighbor was willing to rent us ground to grow alfalfa and we found an old, used baler for sale. My memories of those days are peppered with nostalgia and PTSD. I remember much anxiety over watching weather forecasts, attempting to time the cutting, windrowing and baling in between summer showers. More often than not, the baler was either jammed, the conveyer belt loose/broken or the mechanism that ties the bales was balled up with baling twine. There was a lot of cursing coming from underneath the baler as Wes tried to put a chain back on or untangle the chaos of twine.
Nonetheless, the hay was beautiful, a testament to accomplishment; neat small squares, green and fragrant. From the edge of the newly harvested field, you could conger a bygone image—tireless young men (it was pretty much a boy’s endeavor at that time) atop the tower of tightly packed hay bales, the slowly moving tractor and baler leaving a bare field in their wake.
Fast forward to June 2021. We now own the land we rented, and we’ve planted gorgeous alfalfa cover for the new silvopasture. It is lush, knee-high and begging to be cut and baled. We pay heed to our older more sensible (and tired) selves and find someone to custom bale it. The baling technology has changed since our last foray into making hay. The baler is now a one-person job; scooping up the perfectly cut and windrowed alfalfa and compacting it into large squares and then wrapping it in plastic so it can ferment just a bit. Man and machine seem to race across the field, compared to the slow creep (and frequent stops) of the old-time baler. While there are no sweaty faces covered in hay dust or sore muscles to brag about, the satisfaction of putting up a delicious crop of alfalfa is still there.
Urbana’s Market at the Square Featured Items Going to Market This Saturday-7 am to 12 noon
Today is National Cheese Day (EAT MORE CHEESE!) AND June is National Dairy Month (I know, there’s month for everything, right??) so we’re celebrating all things goat dairy with weekly recipes featuring our cheeses. You can shop the farmers’ market or come out to the farm to purchase.
This week’s feature is a nod to our chef friends at Vie Restaurant, Western Springs. They are big fans of our “little bloom on the prairie,” and are currently featuring a “BrieLT” sandwich.
Here’s a take on this delicious idea:
1 round of little bloom on the prairie goat milk camembert (our Angel Food mini-brie would work as well; it’s just smaller)
2-3 strips of cooked local bacon (we love Triple S Farms bacon—Urbana Farmers’ Market or Common Ground Coop carry it)
Crusty sourdough bread or a demi-baguette-sliced in half length wise
Hearty spring lettuce (e.g., a local romaine) or arugula (3-4 leaves)
2 T tart jam (we like to use Autumn Berry Jam with jalapeño)
1. Slice bread into two slices or baguette into two long halves
2. Slice little bloom or angel food cheese into thirds or halves horizontally to get thin rounds (1/4 inch thick)
3. Spread jam onto one slice of the bread
4. Place cheese slabs on top of jam
5. Cook bacon until crispy, blot with paper towel and place bacon on top of cheese
6. Place a few leaves of lettuce or arugula over bacon and put the other slice of bread on top of the stack to cover
7. Grill in a pan with some olive oil OR grill on top of a hot grill outside or press in your panini machine. Enjoy with a cold beverage of your choice.
Come early to the farmers’ market this Saturday, as it’s going to be a hot one. Can’t make it to the market? No worries! Order from our online store for farm pick up either Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Here’s the line-up of offerings for this weekend:
Herbs de Provence
Angel Food-goat “crottin” style bloomy (like a firm brie)
Fleur de la Prairie—2021 Good Food Award winner!-bloomy with dried herbs and edible flowers
Black goat-ash-ripened bloomy
Little Bloom on the Prairie-our goat milk camembert
Goat Milk Feta aged in Whey Brine
Goat Milk Yogurt—it makes a great smoothy or enjoy with your favorite granola and fresh berries—VERY LIMITED this week
Goat Milk Gelato by Pint (vanilla, chocolate and hazelnut to the market; more flavor options out at the farm)
If you’re interested in buying fresh raw goat milk, you can either order from our online store for farm pick up on the weekends, or just visit our farm store during open hours—we usually have a few half gallons in our refrigerated display case.
Yoga with the Goats
There are only two dates left for our Yoga with the baby goats, so grab your tickets before they’re gone. Enjoy a tranquil and fun yoga practice outdoors with our “baby goats” (now almost two months old). Details about the classes (NEW start time at 10 am to beat the heat), the instructors, the reservations and what to expect are HERE.
Goats for Sale
Looking for a family milking goat or a 4-H project for your kids? Looking to build a small herd to make some goat milk soaps and skin care products? Looking to expand your commercial dairy goat herd? Want some goats to keep your invasive plants at bay? How about a few goats to take on hikes? We have what you’re looking for! Our goats are certified “Animal Welfare Approved,” registered through the American Dairy Goat Association AND super happy and healthy. Send us an email (email@example.com) and we’ll let you know what we have available.
Farm Open Hours
Enjoy some peace and tranquility at the farm this weekend. The farm is open to visitors Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 pm. You can visit with the goats, shop in the farm store “The Real Stand” or enjoy a cheese board with a glass of wine or beer or cup of gelato under the pavilion. We continue to welcome folks to shop, taste, order a cheese board, glass of wine or cup of gelato as we renovate our space.
As the summer progresses, we are planning to add regularly scheduled farm tours, tastings and other events featuring our fun-loving goats. We will be expanding our open hours as well.
Lots of folks are asking about our Farm Dinners! We are working on an abbreviated season starting in mid-July. We encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as you’re able. This will make our communal dinners even safer! Thank you.