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Embracing seasonality-Guest Blog Post by Herd Manager Erica Peters

Farm News

Seasons change and there is no way to stop them. We embrace seasonality. At the farm, we have it down to a science, even when the transitions are rocky. Spring: babies; summer: catch up; fall: breeding, and winter: rest. I think this is why winter is becoming my favorite season.

The warm cup of coffee in the morning tastes even better when the chill creeps in. Every morning I seem to put more layers on, but they peel off as the day goes on. The mostly pregnant does follow the sunshine for their afternoon naps like the arms on a clock. Goats adapt well to changing seasons. I'd like to think they have taught me a thing or two about embracing seasonality. No matter how much we think we are ahead, winter preparations always sneak up on us. The waters have a thin layer of ice, chilly winds blow into the barns, grain bins don’t flow well, goats aren’t as motivated to leave the cozy parlor. These are all signs it is time for change. As we put fencing away, we dream of how we can make it better next year. As we clean out the barns, we repair holes and replace windows. There is a sense of excitement as we transition.

Winter is not only a restful time for us caretakers, it is a needed respite for the goats and the land that sustains them. Winter is the calm before our “storm” (baby goats!), yet is also the rainbow after the storm of milking and cheese making. As the days get shorter and the fall chores are never-ending, we long for winter hibernation. It is sad to see the strong Illinois winds blow the leaves off the magnificent maple tree at the end of our driveway. Although we cling to the vibrancy of fall, we look forward to the next season and then the next and then the next after that.


 

Farm Open Hours—VISIT THE FARM, CHECK OUT OUR “FARM BAR”—ENJOY SOME OF THE BEST LOCAL FOOD AROUND! Indoor and outdoor seating available


Our Current Open Hours are now Saturdays and Sundays, 11 am to 5 pm


Celebrate FALL with an outing to the farm! Guests can enjoy artfully crafted cheese and charcuterie boards, small bites highlighting what’s local and in season and weekly specials. We feature artisan breads from Publican Quality Bread (Chicago, IL) and scones from Alchemy Coffee & Bakehouse (Wilmette IL). Sunday brunch “Bloody Mary’s” are made from scratch, using organic tomatoes from Blue Moon Farm (Urbana IL).


We are selling a few pints of gelato in the farm store only; flavor options and supplies are limited, due to decreased goat milk production this time of year.


Need more enticing? Come try some amazing organic and/or biodynamic wines that you can’t find anywhere else in Champaign-Urbana! Some of this week’s featured menu items include:

  • Cheese boards featuring cheeses from PFFC, Jacobs & Brichford and Ludwig Creamery

  • Charcuterie Boards featuring Piemonte Sausage Co. and Underground Meats salumi

  • Triple S Farms Pulled Pork Sliders with Pickled Red Onion, House-Made Slaw

  • Apple Pie Bars with or without a scoop of gelato

  • Hot spiced Cider!

 

Farm Events


Final Farm dinners of the season—We have two unique events in early December: “Winter Cocktails and Nibbles” on Dec. 2nd and “Holiday Whole Hog Dinner" on Dec. 9th (both Thursday evening events). Check out the details and make your reservations now. Please note we are requiring proof of vaccination to attend these dinners, as they will be held indoors.


Holiday events at the farm-we are planning several special events for the holidays, including our “Holiday Goat Photo Booth” for the weekend after Thanksgiving and several special Friday evening “Sip and Shop” events to help you make the most of holiday entertaining and gift giving. We will also be offering cheese and charcuterie boards for you to pre-order and then pick up before Thanksgiving. We'll be sending out a special post about holiday offerings early next week.

 

Looking for a unique venue to host your business holiday party or a family gathering? Consider our farm! Contact our event planner, Lisa Wells, at prairiefruitsevents@gmail.com

Holiday parties? Let us help with a cheese & charcuterie board. Starting next week, we’ll be taking orders for holiday cheese & charcuterie boards. For Thanksgiving, you can pick up at the farm, Wednesday, November 24th from 2-4 pm. We’ll also be offering cheese & charcuterie boards for entertaining during December. For further details and to get on a sign up list, please email our event planner, Lisa Wells, at prairiefruitsevents@gmail.com.

 

Looking for unique gifts for your business clients? We can put together a customized gift box for any budget. Please email Lisa Wells at prairiefruitsevents@gmail.com to discuss options.


COVID protections on the farm

As the weather gets cooler, we want to remind our patrons that we follow the state guidelines for wearing masks indoors. While visiting our farm store, we require that you wear a mask, unless you are actively eating and/or drinking. If you are engaged in enjoying our food and beverage offerings, and you need to speak with one of our staff, we request that you wear your mask. Our staff wear masks during service, and everyone is vaccinated. We encourage all of our guests to be vaccinated too! Please check our website for up-to-date open hours. Thank you for your cooperation and for helping to keep everyone healthy and safe.


 

Champaign Urbana Winter Market

Champaign-Urbana has YEAR-ROUND access to some of the best local foods in the state. The Champaign-Urbana Winter Market, run by The Land Connection, ensures year-round access to local food!! We will be there, for sure, inside the south entrance to Lincoln Square Mall, November through December, and maybe once a month in January-April, 2022. Hours are 8 AM to 12 noon.


Can’t make it to the market? No worries! Order from our online store for farm pick up either Saturday or Sunday during farm open hours. Now that the weather is cooler, consider shipping an order: treat yourself or someone special in your life! HOLIDAY GIFT BOX OPTIONS COMING SOON FOR SHIPPING OR FARM PICK UP!

Here’s the line-up of offerings for this weekend:

  • Artisan Cottage Cheese-grass-fed milk from grazing cows makes an AMAZING cottage cheese. It is both gorgeous (lovely yellow in color-a testament to the grass the cows are eating) and delicious. If you think cottage cheese is boring, you really need to give this a try! It’s a game changer!

  • Pimento cheese dip—so popular, so delicious! -featuring our cottage cheese, organic red peppers from Blue Moon Farm and parmesan like cheese called “Everton Reserve” from our cow-dairy friends at Jacobs & Brichford in Indiana).

  • Merry Cow-introducing our latest cow-milk creation---a washed rind cheese made with 100% organic, grass-fed milk. The rind is bathed weekly a saline wash including local beer and ripening cultures. Texture of the past is firm; flavor is slightly yeasty but mild. Great on a cheese board with roasted veggies and salami.

  • Fresh chevre

  • Plain

  • Herbs de Provence

  • Cracked peppercorn

  • Roasted garlic

  • Fleur de la Prairie-a delicate bloomy rind decorated with locally sourced dried edible flowers and herbs. Now available as mixed milk (cow-goat) 2021 GOOD FOOD AWARD WINNER!

  • Black Goat: our ash-ripened bloomy-when young, it has a lovely light yeasty flavor with a dense fudgy paste. As it ages, it gets nice ‘n gooey. Now available as mixed milk (cow-goat) 2021 NY International Cheese Competition Silver Medal Winner

  • Angel Food: our little “crottin” style bloomy, similar in style to a mini-brie. This batch is made with BOTH cow and goat milk-aging nicely, with a lovely tangy buttery flavor

  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: Now available as mixed-milk for the fall-slightly gooey edges with buttered mushroom flavor. Try with rings of roasted winter squash and a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil (if you can find it!!!).

  • Pelota Roja- raw goat milk Manchego style cheese with a guajillo-olive oil rub—so good for shaving over roasted potatoes or your favorite casserole! 2021 GOOD FOOD AWARD WINNER!

  • Mixed Milk Feta—our first batch of cow-goat feta is ready for your enjoyment; aged in Whey Brine-perfect to crumble over a hearty fall stew or roasted beets, warm out of the oven. Or turn it into a dip and serve with roasted carrot sticks!

  • Goat Milk Yogurt—Rich fall milk makes the yogurt more firm these days; it makes a great smoothie or enjoy with your favorite granola and fresh fruit- available in pints and quarts this week!

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