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Harvest time in flatland, market offerings and farm happenings

Farm News

The combines have been rolling over the wide-open fields, gobbling up dangling soybean pods and leaving behind a fine stubble that coats the thin topsoil. The desiccated stalks of corn with one or two ears of yellow dent corn await the giant monster that will suck them in, shell the corn off the ear and spit out the chopped stalk Large semis filled with grain whiz by on rural roads, passing each other on their way to competing grain elevators. For two to three weeks out of the fall, our neighbor farmers put all else aside to pull their grain out of the fields. The harvest is the punctuation mark that puts their fields to rest for winter. Some might spread lime; a minor few might plant a cover crop (this would be radical around here, but one can hope, can’t one?), but most let their fields lie barren to freeze, awaiting a tillage or a fertilizer injection next spring.


The laser focus on our farm is a contrast. The work of creating new life is very much underway. Our does have synchronized their heat cycles, and the bucks have been all consumed in their work of procreation. Like our neighbors hunkered down in the cabs of their combines, the bucks don’t stop to eat when there’s another doe wagging her tail in his direction. There’s a sense of urgency to keep life going all around our farm. Honeybees swarm over aster flowers, stocking up on pollen and nectar. Goldfinches are giddy, gorging themselves on sunflower seeds. Mexican sage has set its showy purple velvet flower stocks ablaze, while remnant tomatoes have finally decided to turn bloody red on withering vines. Ever hopeful that the warm weather will linger a bit longer and that rain will soon follow, we’re taking a chance on seeding our pasture with cool season grasses. Life layered on life (with some decay to keep it going).

Fundraiser time is here! Don’t forget to order a PFFC-Blue Moon Farm Grazing Dinner Kit for Prairie River’s Network’s Virtual Annual Fundraiser Dinner.


Prairie Rivers Network (PRN) is Illinois’ premier water quality protection organization. They have been working tirelessly to protect our state’s rivers and water-ways, and their trail of accomplishments is long. They’re hosting their Annual Fundraiser Dinner virtually this year on Friday October 23rd, and PFFC is providing the food! You can buy a PFFC-Blue Moon Farm Grazing Dinner Kit, pick it up on Friday, 1-4 pm at the farm and enjoy with your fellow PRN supporters.

PLEASE Support your artisan and farmstead cheese makers #chooseitorloseit The American Artisan cheese community is NOT out of the woods, as COVID-related traumas continue to impact restaurants and food retailers alike.


GIRL AND THE GOATS TO VICTORY CHEESE BOX

As the weather gets cooler and the days shorter, we tend to resort to nesting behavior. Why not settle into your comfy chairs and graze on a lovely (and delicious) VICTORY CHEESE BOX.

Our current Victory Cheese Box collaboration with grass-fed, raw cows’ milk cheeses from Jacobs & Brichford, bloomy rind cheeses from Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery and accompaniments by Chef Stephanie Izard and her “Girl & the Goat-ceries” team. This DELUXE box features two cheeses from each farmstead creamery, house-made crackers, several kinds of pickles, jam and mixed nuts. It is the ONLY box that features accompaniments made by a Celebrity Chef. You can get your box through our online store. You can either pick up your box at the farm on Saturdays OR Sundays, 1-4 pm OR you can have it shipped.

We still have a few more of the Rick Bayless Victory Cheese Boxes available if you want to order one of those as well, both with and without the signed cookbook. You can start a collection of Victory Cheese Boxes from PFFC!


Urbana’s Market at the Square-Only Four Weeks Left to Outside Market

The outdoor market ends on Saturday October 31st. We will be moving inside Lincoln Square Mall for the Market IN the Square after that, but for the meantime, you have access to some of the BEST local food in the Midwest right here in Urbana. The forecast for this Saturday is calling for downright balmy temperatures-a spring back from last week’s light frost. Our cheeses go with so many fruits and veggies now available at the market. Just ask us for a few simple recommendations when selecting your cheeses. We can have you putting together a show-stopping cheese board in no time!

The Urbana Market has COVID-19 related restrictions. They require social distancing, and both patrons and farmers must wear masks at all times. We have a Square card reader set up for you to swipe your card for payment. If you bring cash, we will give you change (and sanitize our hands between transactions). Gelato pints are ONLY available through online farm store sales/farm pick up.

Here’s the cheese line up for this weekend:

Fresh Chevre $8/each

--plain

--herbs de Provence

--cracked peppercorn

TWO Seasonal chevre flavors of the week (last week for both):

Roasted Garlic This week, we’re featuring garlic from our long-time veggie friends up the road—Blue Moon Farm. Plentiful this week, so stock up.

Dried tomato chevre It’s that time of year again—dried Juliette and Roma tomatoes from our garden (and sometimes from Blue Moon Farm), chopped up and blended into our chevre. This is my FAVORITE flavor.

A little lesson in bloomy rind cheese aging: Bloomy rind cheeses (with edible white mold rinds) age from the rind toward the center. When the cheeses are young, the cheese is firm, and the rind and paste are mild (tangy, milky, slightly mushroomy). As they age or ripen, the paste becomes increasingly gooey, especially next to the rind. When they are fully ripe, most of the cheese is gooey, runny and loaded with umami flavors and funk (in a good way). This week, we have bloomies of all ages for you to try. We are running our super ripe-ooey-gooey black goat special again this week—buy one, get the 2nd at 50% off!

Nutty Goat: A lovely, large-format bloomy rind adorned with toasted pecans from Voss Pecan Orchard. This round has been aging for almost two months. The paste is supple and the white-mold rind with toasted pecans tastes like sauteed mushrooms with buttered pecans. Perfect paired with slices of fresh apples or pears $15/each

Little Bloom on the Prairie: our goat milk camembert style round; aging nicely with a lovely tang with slight buttered-mushroom flavor $11/each

Angel Food: our “crottin” style bloomy-petite but loaded with delicious goat tang! Aging beautifully and firm enough to cut into wedges$9/each

*** Market special: Buy ONE get a 2nd at 50% off--Black Goat-ash-rind bloomy that has a firm tangy paste when young and gets progressively earthy and funky (and gooey) as it ages. $10 each-SUPER RIPE this week—If you love gooey funky cheese, this one’s for YOU!

Fleur du la Prairie: Our delicate bloomy with dried herbs and edible flowers—it’s ripening nicely; some are gooey, some not so much—you can decide how ripe you like it! $11

Blushing Goat-washed rind goat milk cheese, washed with bourbon-peach kombucha beer; this batch is aging beautifully, and it’s loaded with great umami flavor $8/triangle, $13 for rounds

Goat Milk Feta—aged in whey brine, tangy with a creamy-crumbly texture-PERFECT for salads or crumble over a pizza or a bowl of chili! $7/each

Pelota Roja—raw milk “Manchego style” hard cheese with a guajillo chile-olive oil rub on the rind $7/wedge-consider shaving this cheese over grilled zucchini or eggplant! Shave it on a salad of greens in place of parmesan cheese; grate it over sliced tomatoes and broil them in the oven. Try using in a local corn-meal polenta!

Other Opportunities to Purchase Our Products

It’s not too late to start thinking about holiday gifts. We are working on several curated collections of cheese, charcuterie and accompaniments for holiday gift giving. We’re also stocking up on PFFC merch: t-shirts, sweatshirts, tea towels, aprons and goat milk soap. Not only can you order for shipping or farm pick up, we can even accommodate larger business orders. If you would like to discuss a gift box for your favorite customers or clients, please email us at prairiefruits@gmail.com

If you’re not able to buy our cheeses in person at the farmers’ market or during our farm open hours, you can order online for on-farm pick up or shipping. If you order for pick up, you can pick up from 1-4 pm either Saturday or Sunday.

Check out some featured items in the online farm store (and in the farm shop “The Real Stand”):

** NOW Available for online ordering: our Pelota Roja (raw milk Manchego style) and Blushing Goat (wash rind) by themselves or with some accompaniments.

**Raw Milk! Yes, we have a permit from the Illinois Department of Public Health to sell our raw milk. You can either order online (for Saturday Pickup, 1-4 pm) OR come out to the farm on Sundays, from 1-4. We’re selling milk in half gallon jugs for $9 (competitively priced compared to conventional goat milk found in the grocery store).

**”Wash Your Hands! In Style”—new gift item (or just buy it for yourself!) featuring goat milk soaps made exclusively for us by the Wright Soapery. We’re offering a large bar of goat milk soap (tea tree oil, fresh mint or chamomile-oatmeal) with a “Three Chippys” tea towel for $15.

**Our NEW Chippy the Chef apron is HERE! This gorgeous all-cotton apron features Chippy the Goat (our logo and mascot) with her chef hat and mixing bowl. Fully adjustable straps, big deep pockets and super stylish! $20 each.

** Local fruit leathers-made by Funks Grove Heritage Fruits & Grains, we offer three flavors: petite plum from the Jarrell Family orchard (Forest Grove Oregon), black currant (Midwest Agroforestry Solutions) and apple pie. $4 each or 3 for $12.

Gelato pints are available for farm pick up ONLY- flavors this weekend include: NEW Seasonal Flavors: Pumpkin Spice and Maple Chevre (and Maple Chevre with Spiced Pecans) PLUS Vanilla, Chocolate, Espresso, Salted Caramel Swirl, Pure Pistachio, Lemon Verbena, Fresh Mint, Anise Hyssop, and Nectarine Sorbetto (made with Mileur Orchard Nectarines).

We ship on Tuesdays and Wednesdays each week, 1-2-day ground ($20 shipping/handling) for most of the Midwest and 2nd-Day Air for other areas of the country ($35/shipping & handling). There are also lots of retail establishments throughout central IL and the Chicagoland area that carry our cheeses.


Farm Open Hours and Offerings

If you can’t make it to the farmers’ market, no worries. The farm is open BOTH Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4 pm each day.

During our weekend open hours from 1-4 pm, you can peruse our farm store, enjoy a cup of gelato, gelato sundae (with house-made toppings) or order a cheese board with wine/beer/other beverages. You can visit with the goats (no petting, just viewing) and just enjoy the rural outdoors. All visitors must wear masks and practice social distancing while visiting the farm. We’ll be featuring ALL OF OUR CHEESES, as well as lots of great PFFC “merch” for sale during open hours.


NEW THIS WEEKEND: APPLE CIDER FLOATS FEATURING SHADY CREST ORCHARD (ARTHUR, IL) CIDER AND A LARGE SCOOP OF GELATO (YOUR CHOICE OF FLAVOR)

We are getting excited about our Socially-Distanced Farm Fall Fest on Saturday October 31st! Farm tours by hayride, decorate your own pumpkin, goats dressed up for Halloween, healthy treats for the kids (come in costumes please!), Cider-Gelato Floats, Cheese boards with Wine or Beer and much more!


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