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homegrown hay-back to baling

Updated: Sep 9

Farm News

Never say never. New team, new times. Despite my reservations about baling our own hay again, our dairy team couldn’t stand to see the gorgeous alfalfa growing in the fields of our young silvopasture go to waste. So, Dan, our farm design & build and fix-anything-broken-guy (every farm needs a person like Dan on their team) decided to search the online auctions for used hay mowing and baling equipment. Having been raised on a cow dairy farm himself, he was not daunted by the rust on these old beauties. He could see through to the good bones of the equipment and bought it.


The weather has been perfect for making hay—gloriously sunny and dry days followed by cool nights and dewy early mornings. Making good hay, especially with old equipment, is a process; part art, part science, large part patience and very large part luck. First you mow, then you rake, then you bale. Mowing when the alfalfa is not too stemmy is key for great goat hay. Goats don’t like to eat stems; they prefer the tender leaves. They will strip the leaves off the stems with their nimble lips and leave the stems behind in the hay mangers. Raking is essential to form the windrows over which the baler will move, collecting the hay into “flakes” compressing the flakes and tying the bales with twine. Setting the twine properly so your bales are not too loose or not too tight is a skill.


Dan’s got the skills and the temperament to make great hay. He maintains his calm, despite the inevitable mechanical breakdown or flat tire. When it was time to bale, our all-female dairy crew (Erica and Kayla) hopped on the back of the hay wagon to load the bales as they came out of the baler. They stacked the bales as high as any of our former “boy” crews had done, returned to pitch them into the hayloft and went back a couple more times to finish collecting the bales from the field. Their reward: happy sweaty faces sucking down neon-colored popsicles.


Happenings this Weekend at the Farm and Beyond

 

Weekend Wine & Cheese Flights


We have some great old favorites and some new wines in our store, and we’re excited to share them with you alongside our cheeses. Currently, our staff will pick a white, a rose and a red to pair with three of our cheeses each weekend. We’ll serve the wine & cheese flight with a rustic baguette bread from Publican Quality Breads in Chicago. $25/person (must be 21 or older) gets you this amazing flight with some surprises every weekend. All of our wines come from wineries and vineyards using sustainable agriculture practices; most are organic and/or biodynamic and/or regenerative. Just ask our staff for the details if you’re curious.


No need to reserve; just ask for the flight when you come to the farm store.

 

Book your reservations now for a very special cheese tasting event on Labor Day Weekend. We are super excited to welcome author and cheese lover Erika Kubick to the farm on Sunday, Sept. 4th from 5:30-7 pm. Join us for a transcendent “Cheese Church” service with author and cheese preacher Erika Kubick, in celebration of her book “Cheese Sex Death: A Bible for the Cheese Obsessed!” She’ll start off the class with a “sermon” on the basics of cheese worship before leading us through a tasting featuring five of our cheeses, each paired with an artisan accompaniment. After the class, you'll have the chance to shop at our farm store or pick up a copy of Erika’s book. ONLY A FEW TICKETS LEFT!

Tickets are $40, plus $5 for charcuterie. Beverages and gelato are available for purchase on site. Feel free to arrive early and play with the goats before class! Ticket sales are brisk, so don't delay in reserving your spot!

 

Farm Open Hours

This weekend (and all weekends through the end of the year) we’re open 11-5 both Saturday and Sunday. Shop our farm store and sample some of our award-winning cheeses. The weather is looking gorgeous.



Enjoy a cheese and charcuterie board under our pavilion with a bottle of organic and/or biodynamic wine or local microbrew. Want something cool? Try our delicious goat milk gelato! Come early and grab some yogurt, house-made granola and a little jar of farmstead honey for a healthy breakfast. Of course, there is lots of opportunity to engage with the goats—the mommas and the babies LOVE visitors. Come & play with the teenage goat girls--they are attention hounds and love to eat tree leaves or sorghum-Sudan grass (right next to their pen)!!

The secret ingredient to our amazing cheeses and gelato is our MILK! You too can experience our milk in its purest form! Our milk super fresh (usually less than one day old) and clean. We are permitted to sell raw milk from the farm (Illinois Dept. of Public Health). Curious what it tastes like? We will have samples for you to try-just ask.


If you don’t have time to peruse our farm store, but you need some milk or cheese or accompaniments, you can always order from our online store for pick up at the farm during weekend open hours. Just let us know if you’re picking up on Saturday or Sunday in the “NOTES” section (before checking out).


WE HAVE A LIMITED OFFERING OF GELATO PINTS FOR ORDERING ONLINE-MINT AND VANILLA. BETTER ORDER SOON AS THESE ARE GOING FAST!



We’ve also got some great local products, including artisan jams, local honey, preserves and salamis. Check out the gorgeous eggs from fellow AWA (Animal Welfare Approved) certified eggs from 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!! New in the store, a great new selection of PFFC T-shirts.

NEW PRODUCTS ALERT:

  • fresh cheddar cheese curds from our friends in Nebraska--Dutch Girl Creamery--plain and dill-garlic

  • locally made hot sauces from Weird Meat Boyz

  • Seckel pears from the Prairie Fruits Farm orchard

  • organic garlic from Blue Moon Farm (yes, that's right-they are growing some produce this year)

The farm is open on weekends RAIN OR SHINE! We have ample seating inside our farm store if you want to stay and enjoy a cheese & charcuterie board. Our store is AIR-CONDITIONED!

 

Urbana’s Market at the Square


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 (blackberries, fresh figs) PEARS AND PEACHES!!! Melons are on the scene, which means it is the start of melon-feta salad season!! Early fall apples are starting to show up too-how about a Waldorf style salad with apples and fresh chevre? We are bringing some of our very own seckel pears to the market, along with garlic from Blue Moon Farm. Slice the seckel pears and use as a vehicle for the cheese. The tart and crunchy pear slice underlying some gooey little bloom or earthy black goat will blow your mind!!

Tomatoes, delicate cucumbers and sweetcorn are abundant, as well as summer squashes, crispy green beans and eggplants—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. Break out your favorite recipe for watermelon-feta salad. How about lightly grilling a little bloom on the prairie or an angel food mini-brie and serving with crusty bread and local honey? How about one of our bloomies on a burger?


PLEASE NOTE: OUR LOCATION AT THE MARKET HAS CHANGED FROM YEARS’ PAST. 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!! First batches of the season made with early spring milk. The flavor is sharp and nutty, the texture is firm, crumbly yet supple—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!! Now that it’s sweetcorn season, try grating and blending with crumbled feta, smoked paprika and salt and slather over grilled sweetcorn. You will never eat corn any other way! 2021 Good Food Award Winner

  • Fresh Chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper 2022 American Cheese Society 1st Place Medal!

  • Seasonal chevre flavor: Blueberry!! Wes and I made a little pilgrimage to SW Michigan and picked over 10 pounds of blueberries! This new flavor is gorgeous with the perfect combination of sweet and tangy.

  • Mixed milk feta in whey brine-salad season is upon us. Try crumbling feta over grilled buttered sweetcorn with chili powder or smoked paprika (Mexican style)! How about a feta-melon salad---the combination of salt-savory with sweet is irresistible!

  • Little bloom on the prairie: Mixed milk camembert style- perfectly ripe this week—put this baby on burger and you’re set! Or... cut a wedge and put it on a seckel pear slice!!

  • Angel Food: mixed milk mini-brie—aging nicely, and perfect for enjoying with sliced tomatoes and fresh basil! Our answer to caprese salad! We’ve got some wedges of large-format Angel Food that we are selling with either honey or a blueberry compote

  • Black Goat: All goat ash-ripened bloomy rind; youngish but tasty- 2021 NY International Cheese Competition Silver Medal Winner!

  • Goat milk Yogurt (both pints and quarts); we’ll also be selling some house-made granola and small jars of honey to go with the pint size yogurt if you’re looking for a healthy breakfast option.

  • Fruit-Yogurt Smoothies--smoothies are back-we'll have a "watermelon refresher," "peach" and "grape-blueberry" (very limited) I guarantee you if try the watermelon refresher, you won't regret it!!

  • Raw goat milk (half gallons or quarts)-farm store only

  • Gelato Pints (vanilla and fresh mint)-farm store only

  • Seckel Pears-farm grown in the PFFC orchard-available at the farmers' market and our farm store

  • Organic garlic-Blue Moon Farm's renowned garlic--available at the farmers' market and our farm store

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



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