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Extreme heat, what is it good for; absolutely nothing (almost)

Farm News

Absolute temperatures hovering around 100 degrees. Heat indices (temperature plus humidity) pushing 110! No reprieve in the forecast’s horizon. The future is here, and we dairy farmers must adapt. We have modified our barns by removing some of the metal side panels to promote better cross ventilation. We have cleaned out the barns so that no self-heating bedded pack remains (Yes, that was tough job for Erica and Sophie, but they were rewarded with large bowls of gelato and an air-conditioned farm store!). We have replaced the goats’ water with cool electrolytes (goat Gatorade) and replenish their stock tanks throughout the day.


Yet, our “secret weapon” against extreme heat isn’t grounded in human construction; it’s our silvopasture. Nothing beats the shade of a generous tree to keep the goats from going into heat stress. After milking, there’s no need to escort them out to the pasture; they run willingly down the hill to the cluster of cottonwood trees that await them.


Today, I snuck up on them during the heat of midday to see how they were faring. Before they noticed me, they were mostly lying down under the shade of a tree, chewing their cud. A few were grazing in the open pasture. When they saw me, they came sprinting towards me, grabbing mouthfuls of grasses and prairie forbs along the way. Oftentimes, they want to follow you back to the barns as you try to sneak away, but their heads remained buried in their pasture, some even standing on their hind legs to reach the coveted cottonwood tree leaves.

The silvopasture shade is muting the typical effects of extreme heat on our dairy herd. We can see it in the milk tank. Normally, our first major heat wave causes milk production to plummet. This time, we are seeing very modest declines in production. The biochemical changes in milk from heat stress create issues in the cheese vat, but we know how to manage those. It is our work with nature that will carry us through these hot days; a dip in the pond and heaping bowl of gelato help too.

Fleur de la Prairie-the “centerfold” cheese in Culture Magazine

We are honored and proud to have our lovely AND delicious ‘fleur de la prairie’ selected for Culture Magazine’s cheese centerfold in the summer issue of the magazine. Culture is the national magazine about all things cheese! Of course, we’ll have plenty of fleur on hand at the farmers’ market and in the farm store this weekend for you to purchase. You can order it online (along with our ash-ripened ‘black goat’—"a duet of bloomies”) if you’re not local.

Happenings this Weekend at the Farm and Beyond

It will be hot this weekend, but the farm is a lovely respite from the sweltering concrete jungle. We are open Saturday and Sunday, 11 am to 5 pm each day. The goats crave attention and will wow you with their affectionate personalities. You can even feed them some of their favorite treats—maple and mulberry leaves!


Our pregnant does started giving birth this week (of course during the heat wave!!) and you can see some little babies again! How quickly we had forgotten how adorable the little babies are (and how quickly they grow up!!).

SPECIAL FOR FATHER’S DAY

We’ve curated a unique and satisfying cheese board to share with the dads in your life this weekend at the farm. No need to make reservations or order ahead! We'll make them to order. The board includes:

  • Cracked pepper chevre

  • Little Bloom on the Prairie

  • Underground Meats Summer Sausage

  • Potter’s Crackers

  • Local Honey

  • House-Made Pickles and Mustards

Because beer goes SO well with our cheeses, we’re offering 25% off ALL microbrews this weekend, including Kombucha and Cider.


If you’re not celebrating Father’s Day, no worries. Shop our farm store and sample some of our award-winning cheeses. Enjoy a cheese and charcuterie board under our pavilion with a bottle of organic and/or biodynamic wine. Want something cool? Try our delicious goat milk gelato! Specials this weekend: (available BOTH Saturday and Sunday):

--goat milk yogurt parfaits with local fruit purees and jams

--special gelato flavors: local strawberry, fresh mint, tart cherry-amaretto (pistachio is back too!!)

The secret ingredient to our amazing cheeses and gelato is our MILK! You too can experience our milk in its purest form! We are permitted to sell raw milk from the farm. Curious what it tastes like? We will have samples for you to try-just ask.


When you’re ready to leave, take home some raw goat milk or goat milk yogurt. We’ve also got some great local products, including artisan jams, preserves and salamis. Check out the gorgeous eggs from fellow AWA (Animal Welfare Approved) certified farm Joyful Wren Farm. They are equally beautiful on the inside (bright orange means they are definitely eating grass) as well as the outside. I eat them every day!!


The farm is open on weekends RAIN OR SHINE! You can still visit with the baby goats inside their barn if it’s raining! We have ample seating inside our farm store if you want to stay and enjoy a cheese & charcuterie board. Our store is AIR-CONDITIONED!


From 7-12 each Saturday, you can stock up on great produce, meats, eggs and of course PFFC cheeses. Shop the market this Saturday and snag some berries (blueberries, raspberries), leafy greens or sugar snap peas—cheese should definitely be on your list, and you can prepare simple dishes with what’s in season alongside our cheeses, especially our chevre and feta. Recipe suggestions again:

How about little bloom on the prairie on a burger?

Whip some feta with a little heavy cream and serve over charred spring onions or garlic scapes—a great side dish to accompany a grilled steak.

Make a big salad with hard-boiled local eggs and dollop it with our cracked pepper chevre and a vinaigrette!


PLEASE NOTE: OUR LOCATION AT THE MARKET HAS CHANGED. WE ARE STILL LOCATED ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE MARKET, BUT WE ARE NEXT TO ILLINIOIS WILLOWS (AT THE SOUTH END OF AISLE TWO).


Here's the lineup of cheeses and dairy product you can expect to find in our farm store and at the farmers’ market:

  • Pelota Roja!!! Our raw goat’s milk “Spanish Style” cheese is back!! First batch of the season made with early spring milk. The flavor is sharp and nutty, the texture is firm, crumbly—perfect for shaving or grating. You can also just slice it and eat it with a big hunk of local salami and smear of local mustard. YUM YUM YUM!!

  • Fresh Chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper

  • Artisan Cottage Cheese!! Yes, it’s back and boy is it gorgeous and delicious—the golden yellow color belies the pastured cow’s milk from Rocky Road Dairy—LIMITED Availability this week

  • Mixed milk feta in whey brine-salad season is upon us. Try crumbling feta over roasted beets and drizzle with a balsamic reduction!

  • Little bloom on the prairie: Mixed milk camembert style- young this week

  • MARKET SPECIAL: Little bloom with honey "Bees & Bloom" Our new local honey “Grace’s Honey” is the perfect accompaniment for the delicate mushroomy and buttery little bloom

  • Fleur de la prairie: All goat bloomy rind with edible flowers and herbs-aging nicely 2021 Good Food Award Winner AND Culture Magazine’s Summer Issue Cheese Centerfold

  • Black Goat: All goat, Ash-ripened bloomy—aging nicely 2021 Silver Medal at NY International Cheese Competition

  • Raw goat milk (half gallons or quarts)-farm store only-you can order online to pick up!

  • Goat milk Yogurt (quart size)

We will send some of our goat milk yogurt parfaits with local fruit purees to market this week. Keep an eye out for those.

Not local? No problem. You can order our cheeses and gift boxes from our online store.

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