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the seasonality of milk in the fall

Updated: Oct 22, 2022

Farm News

As I have noted many times throughout the years, our milk is seasonal. What does it mean to have a seasonal milk supply and how does seasonality affect the properties of the milk? Most folks understand the seasonality of a tomato, even though you could buy something resembling a tomato in the middle of winter. Once you have bitten into a tomato plucked from your garden in the height of a hot steamy august day, you know that you can do without the grocery store tomato of January.


Our goat milk is seasonal because our goats’ lactation cycles are synchronized, and because their diet varies throughout the seasons. They are all bred within a two-month window in the fall. They all go dry (stop producing milk) in winter. They all have their babies and resume milk production within a two-month window in the spring. They eat only hay in the late fall and winter. They eat spring grasses in April and then a smorgasbord of grasses, legumes, forbes and woody browse in late spring through early fall.


Fall milk is unique. As the goats enter into late lactation and breeding, their milk volume goes down, but their milk solids (butterfat and protein) go up. The milk becomes richer and the cheese yield surges. The milk is also challenging to work with in the cheese vat and in the ripening of aged cheeses. The higher solids impede whey draining, resulting in a denser creamier chevre. The flavor of the chevre is less tangy and more “milky.” The bloomy rind cheeses retain more moisture and ripen faster. Like fall itself, the milk embodies change and portends the days when we will have no milk.

 

Farm Happenings

Sunday Walks with the Goats (Through October 24th)

Come out to the farm on Sunday afternoon for an “amble” with the goats We have a small group of young goats that love to hang out with people. The hike starts at 1pm. We’ll meander out into the back fields and riparian zone along the creek while the goats stop frequently to munch on the greenery. The hike will take approximately 45 minutes and will conclude with gelato in the Farm Store. The cost is $20 per person, which includes a cup of gelato at the end of the hike. Purchase tickets in the Farm Store before 1 pm – limited to 8-10 people. No reservations required; first come-first served. If it is raining, we will cancel-the goats don’t like to get wet. Please wear sturdy closed-toed shoes and long pants. The terrain can be a bit rough in spots.

Mark your Calendars! Goaty Halloween Returns to the Farm!!

Save the Date: Sunday October 30th, 1-4 pm. Goats in Costume! Guests in costume taking pictures with the goats in costume! Pumpkin Decorating! Hayrides! Spooky Sorghum Maze! Hot Apple Cider! Spooky cheesy treats! Gelato! AND MORE!!

 

Wine and Cheese on the Farm? Yes please!

We are one of the few places in Champaign-Urbana where you can get a curated wine and cheese flight. We carry some great organic and/or biodynamic wines. We try to change up the wines and the cheeses almost every weekend so you can come often to try a variety. We serve the wine & cheese flight with a rustic baguette bread from Publican Quality Breads in Chicago or with Potters Crackers. $25/person (must be 21 or older) gets you this amazing flight of three wine pours and three cheeses with some surprise accompaniments every weekend. All of our wines come from small family-owned wineries and vineyards using sustainable agriculture practices. Just ask our staff for the details if you’re curious.

Introducing our newest creation: cheese & charcuterie cones!! Basically, it’s a cheese plate for one served inside a stylish paper cone-includes cheese, salami, pickles, crackers and a few little treats. I am super excited about this concept and we can’t wait to have our patrons try these. We will have pictures on our social media platforms in the next day or so—stay tuned. You can enjoy a cone while you visit with the goats!!

 

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.

Enjoy a cheese and charcuterie board under our pavilion with a bottle of organic and/or biodynamic wine or local microbrew. We have some great beers and hard ciders in the cooler. Want something cold and creamy? Try our delicious goat milk gelato! Of course, there are lots of opportunities to engage with the goats—the mommas and the teenagers LOVE visitors. The interactive goat "play pen" is right next to our Sorghum-Sudan Grass Cover Crop forest, You can grab a hand-full of grass to feed to the goats. If you're lucky, farmer Wes will let the teenage goat girls out for a stroll and you can get even more intimate with them. They are such attention hounds!

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 in person, 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’ve also got some great local products, including artisan jams, local honey, preserves and salamis. New in the store, a great selection of PFFC T-shirts.


NEW PRODUCTS ALERT:

  • house-made pickles with locally grown produce (red peppers, cucumbers, etc.)

  • locally made hot sauces from Weird Meat Boyz

  • roasted garlic chevre!

  • locally made pottery, including soap dishes for our goat milk soap


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 or linger over a cup of gelato or a glass of wine.

 

Order a Cheese Gift Box

With the cooler fall weather, now is a great time to send a cheesy gift box to a friend or family member OR just order one for yourself if you don’t live close by. We have some unique and delicious gift box options OR you can order a variety of different cheeses a la carte. Check out the selections and order away. We ship on Tuesdays and Wednesdays every week. Please make sure you select either Retail 1-2 ground (for shipments in the Midwest) OR Retail 2nd Day Air (for shipments to the coasts) when you’re ready to check out of the online store.

Coming soon: Holiday Gift Boxes and Cheese & Charcuterie Platters for Holiday Entertaining!!


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.


The market is open OUTDOORS through the end of October. Then, it moves inside Lincoln Square Mall, starting the first Saturday in November. We will make the move inside as we always do, so PLEASE continue to support your farmers through the holiday season.


Here's the lineup of cheeses and dairy products you can expect to find in our farm store and at the farmers’ market:

  • Moonglo!! Our raw goat’s milk "tomme-style” cheese!! Sharp, nutty, slice it! Melt it!

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

  • Seasonal chevre flavor: Roasted Garlic Made with organic garlic from Blue Moon Farm!

  • Fleur de la Prairie: all goat milk bloomy rind adorned with dried herbs and edible flowers 2021 Good Food Award Winner and 2022 American Cheese Society 1st Place Medal-LAST OF THE SEASON

  • Black Goat: ash-ripened (all goat milk) bloomy-perfectly ripe and fudgy this week-LAST OF THE SEASON.

  • Little Bloom on the Prairie (mixed milk): camembert style--young this week.

  • Angel Food (mixed milk): crottin (mini-brie) style- young and tangy this week; pair with our farmstead honey-sold as a wedge or mini-round

  • Feta in Whey Brine: mixed milk is back and boy is it delicious-creamy, luscious with the perfect tang--perfect for a fall stew or warmed in the oven with roasted tomatoes and fresh thyme.

  • Goat milk Yogurt (both pints) AND Mixed Milk Yogurt (pints and quarts)-jersey cow milk from Kilgus Farmstead (Fairbury IL) mixed with our fall goat milk-rich, thick with a slight yogurt tang!

  • Yogurt smoothies: seasonal flavors-we’ll surprise you!

  • House-made pumpkin butter: In celebration of Homecoming weekend (and fall), we’ll be offering a bundle of cheese + house-made pumpkin butter (made with locally grown pumpkins, of course!)

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

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