It is usually mid to late June, around the time of the summer solstice and the waxing full moon, that I find myself able to come up for air from the daily grind. I feel the urge to check in with the far reaches of the farm, to check out the prairie and the creek, to see who might be nesting around the pond (aka borrow pit). Even more unusual, Wes and I were able to take a leisurely walk together this past Sunday, Blue trotting along for company. As we turned the corner heading east of the kid barns, we passed the ashes of an old burn pile, the steaming compost windrow and the metal junk heap strapped to a flatbed trailer awaiting a one-way trip to the recycler. We continued toward the pond, trying to ignore the mental notes to self about cleaning up the messes. It was a sultry hot day, and the idea of jumping into the pond to cool off was alluring, save for the need to wade through a few feet of slimy mud to get to the deep part. Blue had no hesitations, relishing the cooling waters lapping at his belly, opening his mouth wide like a skimmer to drink.
All of a sudden, I realized that cattails, indeed large swaths of them, had finally taken root along the once barren, rubbly shoreline. I had dreamed of transplanting them from other wet areas, knowing that they would stabilize the mud and create a safe haven for wildlife. In my absence, they came on their own. With them, came nesting sandpipers and killdeer and the territorial bellows of a bullfrog. The resident Canada geese rafted on the other side of the pond, gosling in tow. A great blue heron hunted in the shallows, most likely eating tadpoles and dragonfly larvae.
We continued our stroll toward the creek, Blue dive-bombed by belligerent red-winged blackbirds. He took it in stride, obsessing over the remnant smells of coyote markings. We paused at the prairie, new grass growth emerging from a spring mow (we had hoped to burn it this past March, but last year’s drought didn’t produce enough biomass to burn). The Cottonwood branches that Wes had bent over last fall to generate resprouts had rooted and leafed out. As we marveled at our first take on silvopasture, a young fawn sprang out of the prairie and bounded toward the creek. Based on her spots and petite frame, it was clear that her mother had chosen to give birth in the prairie; indeed, a second fawn bolted out of the tall grasses behind her sister.
So much had changed since I last walked this path in late winter. I felt surprised by how much had changed in such a small window of time. I felt guilty for neglecting it. Yet I also felt pride over giving nature a gentle nudge toward rewilding. While we still manipulate our farm to provide the best habitat for our goats, we feel honored that the flora and fauna find haven in our benign neglect.
Urbana’s Market at the Square Featured Items Going to Market This Saturday-7 am to 12 noon
June is National Dairy Month (I know there’s month for everything, right??) so we’re celebrating all things goat dairy with weekly recipes featuring our cheeses. You can shop the farmers’ market or come out to the farm to purchase.
This final week’s feature recipe celebrates our goat milk feta. Our feta is made using traditional techniques of aging the cheese for at least one month in a whey brine (the light 6% salt brine contains the whey from the cheese make itself). The whey brine imparts complex flavors to the cheese as it ages. Our feta is tangy but not too salty. It has a lovely creamy-crumbly texture. It is perfect for summer salad season, but it can also be baked with olive oil and olives or a honey drizzle with fresh sprigs of thyme. Here’s a really simple summer salad recipe:
· 2-3 cups of cherry and/or pear tomatoes, sliced in half
· 1 cup of chopped cucumber, peeled (and seeded if the seeds are bitter)
· 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
· 1 Tbsp fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
· 1 teaspoon fresh, chopped oregano
· 1 Tbsp lemon juice
· 2 Tbsp of finely chopped shallots or green onions
· 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
· Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Gently toss the tomatoes, cucumber, feta, onions, mint, and oregano together. Dress with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Devour!
Rain is in the forecast for the foreseeable future. Don’t let the wet stuff stop you from making it to the farmers’ market this weekend. There are so many great fruits and veggies to be had-all great vehicles for our cheeses. NEWS FLASH: OUR RAW MILK “PELOTA ROJA” IS BACK IN THE CHEESE LINEUP! Come grab a wedge of this 2021 Good Food Award winning cheese, inspired by Spanish style raw goat milk cheeses.
Can’t make it to the market? No worries! Order from our online store for farm pick up either Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Here’s the line-up of offerings for this weekend:
Herbs de Provence
NEW seasonal chevre flavor: chevre with rhubarb compote!
Angel Food-goat “crottin” style bloomy (nice ‘n ripe, brie-like)
Fleur de la Prairie—2021 Good Food Award winner!-bloomy with dried herbs and edible flowers
Black goat-ash-ripened bloomy
Little Bloom on the Prairie-our goat milk camembert
Pelota Roja-raw goat milk Manchego style cheese with a guajillo-olive oil chile rub—so good for shaving over a tomato and basil salad!
Goat Milk Feta aged in Whey Brine
Goat Milk Yogurt—it makes a great smoothy or enjoy with your favorite granola and fresh berries-now available in both pints and quarts!
Goat Milk Gelato by Pint (vanilla, chocolate and hazelnut for sure; local strawberry might make an appearance too; more flavor options out at the farm)
If you’re interested in buying fresh raw goat milk, you can either order from our online store for farm pick up on the weekends, or just visit our farm store during open hours—now offering both quarts and half gallons in our refrigerated display case.
Goats for Sale
Looking for a family milking goat or a 4-H project for your kids? Looking to build a small herd to make some goat milk soaps and skin care products? Looking to expand your commercial dairy goat herd? Want some goats to keep your invasive plants at bay? How about a few goats to take on hikes? We have what you’re looking for! Our goats are certified “Animal Welfare Approved,” registered through the American Dairy Goat Association AND super happy and healthy. Send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll let you know what we have available.
Farm Open Hours
Enjoy some peace and tranquility at the farm this weekend. The farm is open to visitors Saturdays and Sundays, 1-4 pm. You can visit with the goats, shop in the farm store “The Real Stand” or enjoy a cheese board with a glass of wine or beer or cup of gelato under the pavilion. Check out our new selection of t-shirts and sweatshirts made from recycled fabric. They feel great and they're good for the planet!
As the summer progresses, we are planning to add regularly scheduled farm tours, tastings and other events featuring our fun-loving goats. We will be expanding our open hours and weekend offerings too—we’re building a bar! Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks.
Lots of folks are asking about our Farm Dinners! We are working on an abbreviated season, depending on availability of guest chefs. We hope to announce a few dates/chefs/restaurants and themes in the next couple of weeks. We encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as you’re able. This will make our communal dinners even safer! Thank you.