The time has come for more milk. The demand for our chevre in Chicago has grown such that we could not produce enough to meet it this year. So, we’re growing our milking herd. Over the years, we have a cultivated a specific genetic fingerprint of milking goats. Our Nubian x La Mancha crosses, and the specific lines within those crosses, have produced a quality of milk to which we have become accustomed. It’s not just about butterfat and protein, the essentials for cheese making. It’s about flavor, it’s about goats that thrive on pasture; it’s about the interactions of seasonality and diet on milk and making the most of those interactions.
So, as we considered how best to grow our milking herd, the obvious first choice was to keep more of our own doelings. The next best option was to contact some of the herds who purchased our does (in numbers) to see if we might buy some of their offspring. We settled on Sirocco Ridge Farm in southern Indiana. They had purchased several of our La Mancha and La Mancha cross doelings and one of our bucklings a few years ago, and we knew they kept a clean herd. We also knew they were as meticulous (if not more so) as we are with record keeping and herd health testing.
Yesterday, Wes and Erica made the all-day trek southward to pick up 13 pregnant does; many of whom share the genetics of our herd. They fared the journey well, and made their way into their new digs just as the sun was starting to set. Excited to meet them, I was struck by physical resemblances of some with our does-the coloring, the eye stripes, the frosted muzzles. Inspecting their udders, I could tell right away who they traced back to in our herd. This is the first time that we have had some of our genetics return to the farm, with a twist.
Some have amazing differences though—beautiful black and white spots and belts and a stunning copper colored doeling named “Lou.” The other striking difference is their herd “culture.” They are calm, quiet and well-mannered. They seem so easily adaptable to their new surroundings, and make only the sweetest murmurings on seeing a human walk through the barn door.
In contrast, our doelings across the barn aisle scream when someone enters the barn, demanding to be fed or given attention. They peer (maybe jeer) over the fence at the new comers; unable to quell the indignant expressions on their faces. Herd culture is malleable, and my hope is that some of those good manners from southern Indiana rub off on our all-too-spoiled girls. Time will tell.
End of the Season
Last Friday, we milked our does for the last time this year, and now they are dry. All are pregnant, and enjoying their season of lounging and eating. We too will begin our season of rest and rejuvenation after this weekend.
This Saturday, December 21st, we’ll be slinging the cheese at Urbana’s Market IN the Square. We will be there from 8 am-12 noon (even though the market runs until 1 pm). This is our LAST market of the season, and we won’t be back until the outdoor market begins in May 2020. We’re bringing a nice selection of cheese, including the latest (and young) batches of Cow-Goat Eclipse. These bloomies are aging beautifully, and they will be perfect to serve to your holiday guests over the next couple of weeks.
We will also be bringing some jarred products, PFFC “merch,” as well as our cheese & salami gift boxes (featuring charcuterie from Piemonte Sausage Co.). Here is the line-up of cheeses:
Fresh chevre: plain, herbes de Provence, cracked pepper-our chevre is so rich and creamy right now; it’s perfect to slather on some crusty bread or dollop on a casserole or cream up your soups or stews. Serve as an appetizer with crudité or some of our new “Potter’s” Crackers or Crisps (available in our farm store only). You can freeze chevre for winter! So, stock up this weekend!
Cow-Goat Eclipse Our new mixed milk (75% jersey cow milk from Kilgus Farmstead and 25% goat milk) bloomy rind cheese! This bloomy has the same crinkly (and yeasty) white mold as our black goat and fleur du prairie). We’ve done a few variations with this cheese—some with or without edible flowers and dried herbs from our herb garden.
Midnight Cow-Goat Eclipse: made in squares with a thin veneer of charcoal ash, this version of “Eclipse” has a lovely yeasty-bread dough flavor with hints of butter.
Give the gift of local cheese & charcuterie:
ONLY A FEW BOXES LEFT: Cheese & Salami Gift Boxes featuring artisan charcuterie from Piemonte Sausage Co., our chevre and house-made pickled green cherry tomatoes. Just $79.95 feeds 10-15 guests (individual components would cost over $100).
Can’t make it to the market on Saturday? Fear not-our farm store “The Real Stand” is open Saturday and Sunday 1 to 4 pm this weekend, December 21st -22nd. After this weekend, we will be taking a break for winter, but stay tuned for news about special events in 2020.
During open hours, you can:
--Visit with the goats—come meet the newest additions to our herd from Sirocco Ridge Farm in Indiana.
--If you’re like me (and you enjoy ice cream any time of year), you can get a scoop of gelato or an “affogato” (espresso with a scoop of gelato)
--Savor a cheese board—select your cheese & charcuterie, and we’ll put it all together with accompaniments and a warm baguette. We’ve streamlined our “build your own cheeseboard.” You still get to pick out the cheeses and cured meats, but our staff will compose the board for you with a warmed demi-baguette (and/or crackers) and three sweet & savory accompaniments (think jam, pickles, nuts, relish and artisanal mustard) for a small fee.
-Peruse our farm store for unique holiday gifts, edible and otherwise (local meats, flour, honey, maple syrup, jams, t-shirts, tea towels, note cards, self-care products and more).
NEW in the farm store: Delight Flower Farm self-care products! We are super excited to carry these locally made salves, tinctures, salts and more.
LOCAL & SUSTAINABLY RAISED MEATS-our farm store is quickly becoming THE place to shop for pastured livestock meats and poultry. We have chicken and beef from Bane Family Meats, Sausages from Piemonte Sausage Co. and pork (whey-fed heritage breed “Red Wattle” hogs), goat and lamb from D&M Farms. These products are delicious, and the care that the animals received is reflected in the quality of the meats.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO OUR WONDERFUL PATRONS!
As we wind down our 2019 season and begin our winter break, we want to thank YOU, our patrons, for your support over the years. This year has given us many joys as well as challenges, and we are thankful for your enthusiastic faces at the farmers’ market and at the farm. Connections to our customers sustain us and nourish us in so many ways. We wish all of you the happiest of holidays and a restful winter. See you in the New Year!