Updated: Oct 2
Mid-September: the first crisp mornings of mist rising from the warm-water pond, the shortening days punctuated by fire red sunsets, the strong scent of bucks more than ready to breed. It is also the time of year that we invite the vet students out to our farm to draw blood samples from our entire breeding herd for disease testing.
After Erica, our herd manager, demonstrates how to find the jugular vein on goats and position the needle and syringe to draw blood quickly and painlessly, the students fan out in groups of two or three, armed with alcohol pads, needles, syringes and blood tubes. While our goats are used to being handled by lots of different people from a young age, there is a technique to hold them so that the blood draw goes smoothly. With close to 120 goats being tested, it takes a small army of students to get the job done. We reward them with gelato. They gain valuable experience; we get the job done in relatively short order.
We have been testing our herd for transmissible diseases since we started our dairy. One of the major diseases that affects goats is called “Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis” (CAE). It is a retro-viral disease similar to AIDS. If present, it lurks in a goat’s body for years with no symptoms. As the infected goat ages, he or she develops debilitating arthritis, shortening the goat’s lifespan and causing them intense pain. Most commercial goat dairies, and even smaller “show” herds don’t test for CAE, allowing the disease to spread and perpetuate, mostly undetected, until it’s too late. While the cost of testing is not that expensive per goat, it can add up significantly when you have a large commercial herd, and you choose to test annually. Sometimes goats can test negative for years, and then suddenly, they test positive.
Despite the financial cost, we have decided to test our entire breeding herd annually. This gives us the peace of mind that all of our goats are healthy and remain healthy during their productive lives. It allows us to advertise our breeding stock as CAE negative, with the test results to verify our claims. It also means that we have productive dairy goats that live a LONG time. Most of our milking goats are productive until they are about 10 years old. This is UNHEARD of in the commercial dairy world. They either retire on the farm (mothering the next generation of kids) or we find homes where they can live out their final days with dignity. We have had goats live as long as 13-16 years old because we have emphasized health and testing for diseases. Our goats give us so much; our relationships are beyond transactional. We have an obligation to keep them healthy.
Weekend Wine & Cheese Flights
Looking for something fun and out of the ordinary to do this weekend? We have some great wines in our store, and we’re excited to share them with you alongside our cheeses. How does it work? Each weekend, our staff pick a white, a rose and a red to pair with three of our cheeses. 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 with some surprises every weekend. All of our wines come from wineries and vineyards using sustainable agriculture practices; most are organic and/or biodynamic and/or regenerative. Just ask our staff for the details if you’re curious.
No need to reserve; just ask for the flight when you come to the farm store.
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 pretty nice, if not down-right summery!
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 new beers and hard ciders in the cooler. Want something cold and creamy? Try our delicious goat milk gelato! Come early and grab some yogurt, house-made granola and a little jar of farmstead honey for a healthy breakfast. Of course, there are lots of opportunity 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.
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. Check out the gorgeous eggs from fellow AWA (Animal Welfare Approved) certified eggs from Joyful Wren Farm. They are equally beautiful on the inside (bright orange means they are definitely eating grass) as well as the outside. I eat them every day!! New in the store, a great new selection of PFFC T-shirts.
NEW PRODUCTS ALERT:
fresh cheddar cheese curds from our friends in Nebraska--Dutch Girl Creamery--plain and dill-garlic
locally made hot sauces from Weird Meat Boyz
organic garlic from Blue Moon Farm (yes, that's right-they are growing some produce this year)
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. Our store is AIR-CONDITIONED!
From 7-12 each Saturday, you can stock up on great produce, meats, eggs and of course PFFC cheeses. September is the time of year that the market brims with diversity--summer crops linger and fall crops enter the stage.
PLEASE NOTE: OUR LOCATION AT THE MARKET HAS CHANGED FROM YEARS’ PAST. WE ARE STILL LOCATED ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE MARKET, BUT WE ARE NEXT TO ILLINIOIS WILLOWS (AT THE SOUTH END OF AISLE TWO).
Here's the lineup of cheeses and dairy product you can expect to find in our farm store and at the farmers’ market:
Pelota Roja!!! Our raw goat’s milk “Spanish Style” cheese!! First batches of the season made with early spring milk. The flavor is sharp and nutty, the texture is firm, crumbly yet supple—perfect for shaving or grating. You can also just slice it and eat it with a big hunk of local salami and smear of local mustard. YUM YUM YUM!! Try grating or shaving over grilled veggies or your favorite cheesy casserole. 2021 Good Food Award Winner
Fresh Chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper 2022 American Cheese Society 1st Place Medal!
Seasonal chevre flavor: Tomato chevre Made with dried Juliette Roma tomatoes from our garden and from Blue Moon Farm. This is my FAVORITE seasonal flavor!
Mixed milk feta in whey brine-salad season is upon us. Try crumbling feta over grilled buttered sweetcorn with chili powder or smoked paprika (Mexican style)! How about a feta-melon salad---the combination of salt-savory with sweet is irresistible! sweetcorn and watermelon won't be around too much longer, so make these simple dishes and keep summer going strong!
Angel Food: mixed milk mini-brie—aging nicely, and perfect for enjoying with sliced tomatoes and fresh basil! Back in stock but super young1
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
Goat milk Yogurt (both pints and quarts); we’ll also be selling some house-made granola and small jars of honey to go with the pint size yogurt if you’re looking for a healthy breakfast option.
Raw goat milk (half gallons or quarts)-farm store only
Yogurt Smoothies! They're BAACK!! Peach and Raspberry
Organic garlic-Blue Moon Farm's renowned garlic--available at our farm store ONLY
Not local? No problem. We ship nationwide. You can order our cheeses and gift boxes from our online store.