Seize the day, a nearly perfect day, for housekeeping. Yes, it had rained yesterday, yes, there are still little mounds of icy snow (mostly isolated to cold shady spots), yes there is mud everywhere, but the window of opportunity for a late fall barn clean-out appeared as a thin slit on the weather forecast horizon.
As the sun was shining, the goats went eagerly to the pasture. Wes prepared a bale of hay and a trough of water for them so they wouldn’t be disillusioned by meager offerings of standing vegetation. This time of year, conditions have to be perfect for them to spend time outside. Unlike their ruminant relatives, cows and sheep, goats are the goldielocks of the cud chewers. It can’t be too wet or too cold or too windy; the sun must be shining and there must be a path free of standing water or mud; it must be “just right.”
We are done with “just right” for a while, so inducements and a little bit of bribery are required to get them to stay outside for long periods of time. They doth protest once they catch on to the trick, but by then, we can’t hear them over the roar of the skid steer. Once the gates and internal fences are removed, the skid steer operator works nimbly and with speed to push, scoop and remove the soiled straw bedding. The choreography is repetitive; the skid steer glides a well-worn path from the barn to the compost pile until the bare ground inside the barn reveals itself.
The work is not done until the barn lime is spread and a thick blanket of fresh straw is laid down. Only then, are the does let back into their newly cleaned abode. They display their approval by rolling in the fresh straw. Even the old “ladies” delight in a roll or two and a nibble on the straw heads that might carry a few morsels of wheat grain.
Farm Store and Farmers’ Market Offerings
The Urbana Farmers' Market has moved inside Lincoln Square Mall. We will be there from 8 am to 12 noon (even though the market runs until 1 pm). We will be set up in the south hall of the mall next to Blue Moon Farm.
This weekend is THE best time to stock up on all your Thanksgiving entertaining needs. We’ve got you covered for appetizers (or even for dessert—how about a chevre-pumpkin cheesecake?)
Here's the line-up of cheeses:
Fresh chevre: plain, herbes de Provence, cracked pepper-our chevre is so rich and creamy right now; it’s perfect to slather on some crusty bread or dollop on a casserole or cream up your soups or stews.
Seasonal chevre: dried spiced cranberries (with cinnamon, nutmeg & clove)
"Nutty Little Bloom:" a riff on our camembert- square shaped bloomy with toasted pecans on top. Pecans from Voss Orchard, Carlyle, IL. The nuts add a sweetness that compliments the buttery notes of the cheese (limited this week)
Cow-Goat Eclipse Our first mixed milk (jersey cow milk from Kilgus Farmstead and our goat milk) bloomy—we’re calling it “Cow-Goat Eclipse” This bloomy has the same crinkly (and yeasty) white mold as our black goat and fleur du prairie). We’ve done a few variations with this cheese—some with ash (squares) and some without ash with or without edible flowers and dried herbs from our herb garden.
Midnight Cow-Goat Eclipse: made in squares (and then cut into triangles) with a thin veneer of charcoal ash, this version of “eclipse” has a lovely yeasty-bread dough flavor with hints of butter. It’s beautiful AND delish!
Grab one of our farm-kitchen made jams, pickles or relishes, add some local salami (Piemonte Sausage Co. cured meats or Underground Meats—both available in our farm store), finish with some toasted pecans from Voss Pecan Orchard (also available in our farm store) and you have all the key ingredients for a gorgeous CHEESE BOARD!
Can’t make it to the market on Saturday morning? The farm store "The Real Stand" is open Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 pm
We’re gearing up for the holidays this week, and we will have new artisan food items as well as a number of your familiar favorites for sale. We have some great PFFC “merch” too—t-shirts, tea towels, aprons, bandanas and sweatshirts to name a few. Come out to peruse the farm store “The Real Stand,” visit with the goats or just relax with a glass of wine/beer and a cheese board.
We’re streamlining our “build your own cheeseboard.” You still get to pick out the cheeses and cured meats that you would like, but our staff will compose the board for you with a warmed demi-baguette (and/or crackers) and three sweet & savory accompaniments (think jam, pickles, nuts, relish and artisanal mustard).
Don’t want that much food? You can still get gelato by the scoop at the farm, or if you want to be decadent, ask for an “affogato” (a scoop of gelato in a cup of espresso).
NEW: Cheese & Salami Gift Boxes featuring artisan charcuterie from Piemonte Sausage Co., our chevre and house-made pickled green cherry tomatoes. $94.95 feeds 10-15 guests (individual components would cost over $100).
NEW: Potter’s Crackers—Artisanal crackers baked in Madison WI featuring local grains and other ingredients. I am SOOO excited to bring these crackers to central Illinois! I used to buy them at the Green City Market in Chicago, and I always thought they were the perfect vehicle for our cheeses.
Featured Local Meats Goat, Lamb and Heritage Whey-Fed Pork (Red Waddle Hogs) products from D&M Farms, Breese IL We are so excited to be offering these exceptional meat products from the farm of one of our new milkers-Megan Huelsman. She and her dad raise goats, sheep and hogs in southern IL; pasture raised goats and sheep and red waddle hogs fed whey from a nearby farmstead cow creamery.
Bane Family Meats: Dr. David Bane raises poultry, beef, lamb and hogs on his diverse, pasture-based farm in Sidney IL. We carry his chicken (“freedom ranger” breed—superior to conventional breeds of meat chickens) and beef and sometimes his eggs.
Piemonte Sausage Co: Claude and Susan Cole produce delicious fresh (frozen) sausages using locally sourced pork. We carry a nice selection of their sausages in our freezer case. We also have their dry-cured salamis (they go SOO well with our cheeses!).
The holiday season is nearly upon us. The farm will have extended hours on Saturday, November 30th (Small Business Saturday-Holiday Farm Open House), featuring holiday goats, a selfie goat “photo booth” and some warming holiday foods. We will be doing a grand tasting event “Holiday Farm Tasting” on Sunday December 8th featuring many of the wines/beers, cheeses, salamis, jams, pickles and more in our farm store. Check out our Facebook events pages for more details.