Honey bees return to the farm
It has been a long time since we’ve hosted beekeepers and hives on our farm. Our original beekeeper, the legendary (in the local beekeeper world) Emil Blobaum, decided to call it quits nearly seven years ago, after numerous years of fighting colony collapse disorder (most likely caused by pesticides applied to neighboring corn and soybean fields and climate change). Late last fall, a new beekeeper appeared on our doorstep, asking if he could put a few hives on our farm. Recognizing that we have created a little oasis for pollinators, he sensed that his bees would be happy here.
We decided to offer him a secluded location on our new farm. It is protected from the cold winter winds by the adjacent woodland and has access to a succession of flowering plants-a bees’ all-you-can-eat-buffet of a landscape. Fast forward to spring, and the discovery that not only did his hives survive the winter, they appeared to be thriving. He found them foraging on delicate spring wildflowers in the yard of the old farmhouse, pink pollen covering their legs. He was certain they were visiting early spring flowering trees as well. In June, he saw them feeding on the emerging red clover. We received frequent updates on the status of the honey, anticipating the first extraction from all those spring blooms. At last, the honey was concentrated enough, and the comb capped with wax for the extractions to begin. This week, we received our first jars of Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery “estate produced” honey from Stretch. His honey is aptly named “Grace’s Famous Honey” in recognition of his daughter Grace’s helping hands in tending to the bees and extracting the honey. Come taste the diversity of their labors this weekend.
beekeeper Grace and bee photos by Charles "Stretch" Ledford
Happenings this Weekend at the Farm and Beyond
FARM STORE SPECIAL THIS WEEKEND: Weekend Wine & Cheese Flight
We have some unusual and amazing wines in our little farm store, and we want to show them off to you. This weekend’s flight features two crisp whites and a light red wine from different regions of the world. La Frontiere Sauvignon Blanc hails from the Willamette Valley of Oregon. It is made in a natural style (low sulfur) from grapes grown using organic and biodynamic practices. With a strong mineral character and stone fruit and citrus notes, it will pair beautifully with our fresh chevre with herbs de Provence. Next up is an Austrian wine-Wieninger Wiener Gemischter Satz 2019. This complex, dry white contains many different regional grape varieties harvested at the same time. It’s citrusy, but also has herbal notes and hints of tropical fruits. We’re pairing this stunner with our little bloom on the prairie. We complete the flight with an amazing red wine from Sicily. Santa Tresa Rina Russa Fappato, an ancient Sicilian grape varietal. When we run out of the Frappato, we will switch to another lighter red from Italy—Pico Macario “Villa Della Rosa (a young Barbera d’Asti) The wild berry and cherry notes and smooth finish from either of these reds will contrast nicely with our “dressed up” feta (olive oil drizzle and fresh herbs). We’ll serve with a rustic baguette bread from Publican Quality Breads in Chicago. $25/person (must be 21 or older) gets you this amazing flight—all weekend long!
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 5 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.
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!
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 fantastic for an outing to the farm.
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! Of course, there is lots of opportunity to engage with the goats—the mommas and the babies LOVE visitors. We will have an interactive pen set up for guests to enjoy their antics up close!
Specials this weekend: (available BOTH Saturday and Sunday):
--peachy yogurt smoothies-made with local peaches from Cary’s Garden of Eatin’ and honey from Grace’s Famous Honey (available in our farm store!)
-blueberry yogurt smoothies with Michigan blueberries and Grace’s Famous Honey
--special gelato flavors: TBD
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.
RAW MILK SPECIAL THIS WEEKEND! So popular last weekend, that we’re doing it again in case you missed out! BUY ONE (EITHER A QUART OR HALF GALLON), GET A SECOND ONE FOR 25% OFF!! If you’re worried about drinking all that milk in a week or so, have no fear, you can actually freeze it (if you plan to make cheese with it, I wouldn’t recommend freezing it; otherwise, it will be great to drink or make yogurt/kefir when thawed).