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When Seasonal rituals collide with climate change

Farm News

The impacts of climate change have begun to seep into the routine seasonal rituals upon which we have come to rely as cheese makers. Geeky scientist alert: I’m going to walk you through the nuances of seasonal milk chemistry and its effect on cheese making. For over a decade, we have come to anticipate changes in the chemistry of our seasonal goat milk as reliable indicators of fall. Fall milk is rich in butterfat and protein; milk production naturally declines as the goats approach late lactation and begin to breed. We anticipate these changes; we adjust our cheese recipes to compensate for them. We have years of cheese make sheets with data showing similar patterns.

This year’s late lactation and breeding season have coincided with exceptionally warm and wet weather. While we’re seeing increases in our milk’s butterfat and protein, our girls’ milk production isn’t going down as fast as we would expect. This, of course, is a good thing. As a dairy and farmstead creamery, we want to hold on to as much milk as possible in the fall. Every drop is precious! Nonetheless, we typically see a dramatic rise in the cheese yield (pounds of cheese produced per pounds of milk); yet our yields are hovering at levels we see in late August. The milk is confused-it wants to behave like late lactation milk in the cheese vat-with slower acidification rates and skiffs of cream on the surface of the chevre curd. Yet, it’s holding on to summer traits like lower cheese yields.

Late summer? Early fall? These garden dwellers are enjoying their own version of "feast" on the brilliant blooms of the pineapple sage in our herb garden. The praying mantis, perfectly camouflaged, is waiting for an unsuspecting pollinator; the oversized bumblebee, taking shortcuts, is piercing the back of the tubular flower to get a sip of nectar.

 

Farm Open Hours—VISIT THE FARM, CHECK OUT OUR “FARM BAR”—ENJOY SOME OF THE BEST LOCAL FOOD AROUND!


NOTE: DUE TO OUR FARM DINNER THIS SATURDAY, OCTOBER 9TH, THE FARM STORE WILL BE CLOSING EARLY THAT DAY-3:00 PM SO WE CAN GET READY FOR THE DINNER


Celebrate FALL with an outing to the farm! Guests can enjoy artfully crafted cheese and charcuterie boards, small bites highlighting what’s local and in season and weekly specials. We feature artisan breads from Publican Quality Bread (Chicago, IL) and scones from Alchemy Coffee & Bakehouse (Wilmette IL). Sunday brunch “Bloody Mary’s” are made from scratch, using organic tomatoes from Blue Moon Farm (Urbana IL). Need more enticing? Come try some amazing organic and/or biodynamic wines that you can’t find anywhere else in Champaign-Urbana! Some of this week’s featured menu items include:

  • Cheese boards featuring cheeses from P

  • Charcuterie Boards featuring Piemonte Sausage Co. and Underground Meats salumi

  • Publican Quality Bread (PQB) crostini du jour (changes weekly)

  • PFFC “pimento cheese” dip with house-made pickles & PBQ bread

  • House-Made Pizzas featuring our fresh mozzarella, local veggies and local charcuterie

Come try a wine flight this Friday night! We’ll feature three wines from our Organic & Biodynamic Portfolio for a set price. Wine not your thing? Enjoy a cold brew from our newest selection of local microbrews, kombucha beer and hard cider! We’re very excited about these new libations.

Hours are:

Fridays, 4-8 pm

Saturdays, 11-8 pm—11-3 pm on October 9th

Sundays, 11-5 pm

In the farm store, we now feature vegetables from new farmer “Open Hands Farm.” Selections change weekly but right now, you can expect tomatoes, carrots, okra, parsley, chard, beets, garlic and potatoes for sure. We also have pumpkins and apples from Meyer Produce in Philo, IL.

 

Last chance to grab your tickets to our very special Mezcal and Small Plates Pairing Event with Alex Jandernoa of Banhez Mezcal, Oaxaca, Mexico on October 9th. Make your reservations for our Neopolitan style pizza (Pizzeria Antica), cannoli and gelato with The Tony Cannoli of Lincoln Illinois-October 17th. You can still pre-order an extra four-pack of cannoli but act now; supplies are limited. Last but not least, check out our beer and brats event on October 21st with Heartland Beverage and D&M Meats.


Details for our “A Goaty Halloween” on Sunday, October 31st, are set and tickets for admission/hayrides and pumpkin decorating are now available. There are three time slots from which you can choose. Stay tuned for details and ticket sales for upcoming special tastings, workshops and goat hikes lining up for the remainder of the fall season!


COVID protections on the farm

As the weather gets cooler (and it will, eventually), we want to remind our patrons that we follow the state guidelines for wearing masks indoors. While visiting our farm store, we require that you wear a mask, unless you are actively eating and/or drinking. If you are engaged in enjoying our food and beverage offerings, and you need to speak with one of our staff, we request that you wear your mask. Our staff wear masks during service, and everyone is vaccinated. We are planning to host farm dinners and other events indoors this fall, and we will be adjusting our open hours so that we don’t create situations of crowding inside our farm store. Please check our website for up-to-date open hours. Thank you for your cooperation and for helping to keep everyone healthy and safe.

 

Urbana’s Market at the Square: Featured Items Going to Market This Saturday-7 am to 12 noon

It’s gonna be a GORGEOUS fall day, so come out and support your local farmers. Although it is Homecoming Weekend at the University of Illinois, we farmers will be at the market to make your festivities easy. Despite the warm weather, the days of BOTH summer and fall fruits and veggies are waning, so get to the market this weekend to take advantage of this seasonal cornucopia of local foods. Our goat bloomy rind cheeses are young this weekend, but tasty. Consider making a pizza with our fresh mozzarella or just enjoying some cottage cheese over sliced apples and a drizzle of honey.


Can’t make it to the market? No worries! Order from our online store for farm pick up either Saturday or Sunday during farm open hours. Now that the weather is cooler, consider shipping an order: treat yourself or someone special in your life!

Here’s the line-up of offerings for this weekend:

  • Fresh Mozzarella! We are now making fresh mozzarella with the amazing cow milk from Rocky Road Dairy. Like all of our cheeses, we make this cheese as close to traditional methods as possible. Comes as a perfectly formed ball (approximately 5-6 oz) in a light brine-perfect for homemade pizza!

  • Artisan Cottage Cheese-grassfed milk from grazing cows makes an AMAZING cottage cheese. It is both gorgeous (lovely yellow in color-a testament to the grass the cows are eating) and delicious. If you think cottage cheese is boring, you really need to give this a try! It’s a game changer!

  • Pimento cheese dip—so popular, we’re making more! -featuring our cottage cheese, organic red peppers from Blue Moon Farm and parmesan like cheese called “Everton Reserve” from our cow-dairy friends at Jacobs & Brichford in Indiana). Can’t wait to share this with you all!

  • Fresh chevre

    • Plain

    • Herbs de Provence

    • Cracked peppercorn

    • Dried Tomato!! Very limited-get to the market early if you want some!

  • Little Bloom on the Prairie: our goat milk camembert style cheese-try it warmed in the oven or even “en croute,” now that the weather is getting cooler

  • Angel Food-little but mighty “crottin” style goat bloomy-firm in the center; buttered-mushroom flavor from the white mold rind-perfect served with a wilted spinach salad and crispy bacon!

  • Fleur de la Prairie-a delicate bloomy rind decorated with locally sourced dried edible flowers and herbs. 2021 GOOD FOOD AWARD WINNER!

  • Pelota Roja- raw goat milk Manchego style cheese with a guajillo-olive oil rub—so good for shaving over roasted potatoes or your favorite casserole! 2021 GOOD FOOD AWARD WINNER!

  • Goat Milk Feta aged in Whey Brine-perfect to crumble over a hearty fall stew or roasted beets, warm out of the oven. Or turn it into a dip and serve with roasted carrot sticks!

  • Goat Milk Yogurt—it makes a great smoothie or enjoy with your favorite granola and fresh berries- available in both pints and quarts!


 

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