Tails From The Prairie

June 27, 2014 at 11:34 am


Besides buying their award winning cheeses at the Green City Market, I have had the pleasure of visiting Prairie Fruit Farms and Creamery, LLC, several times over the years and have seen how the farm has grown and evolved. This interest lead me to subscribe to their email list where farmers, Leslie and Wes, send out news of the ongoings at the farm. These missives have included stories of pigs escaping, goats born in the middle of the night, and just the regular duties of running a farm and creamery, in this case goats, cheesemaking and more. As you find you connect with the farmers you buy from, it is a natural extension to subscribe to their newsletters. It is a way to learn more about the food that you are buying. In the case of Prairie Fruit Farm and Creamery, I have grown to really enjoy their letter which involves life on a goat farm and creamery. Having contacted Leslie and Wes, they graciously agreed to let me share their newsletter on the Beet with the caveat of course, that all pictures and words, are reprinted with their permission and cannot be shared elsewhere without their consent. So for those of you who enjoy words well crafted and like to learn more about life on the Prairie, with goats, and more, read on.

(The information below comes directly from the Prairie Fruit Farm and Creamery newsletter, if you would like to receive it directly, you can sign up here)

Farm News

With the best of intentions, we’ve been trying to rebuild our pasture perimeter fence for the past month and a half.  The weather, the urgency of other priorities, waiting for the re-seeded pasture to grow—all these things conspired against us.  Despite the post holes filling with water from recent torrential rains, we pressed on and filled them with many bags of quick-crete (a cementing material) to secure the corner posts. With the woven wire strung and secure and topped off with a strand of hot wire, the goats were let out into their new pasture Wednesday evening.


The pasture had grown so tall that you could barely see them wading out into the sea of green. They slowly but eagerly pressed their bodies against the weight of the vegetation, fanning out to indulge in their long-awaited ritual of grazing (well, browsing in their case). For a moment, I had visions of my own wading out into the ocean, slowly being engulfed by the water.  Every now and then, I’d see a goat head come up for air, most of them buried in blissful herbivore gluttony.

The other day, one of our neighbors had come by to let us know that the Elderberry were flowering. His family is one that has lived in this area for many generations, and he knows this landscape like the back of his hand. He has foraged, hunted and trapped in these parts since he was a small boy. Last year, we had asked him if he knew where to find Elderberry blossoms for making syrups and jams. He had never heard of such things, but he knew where to find the bushes.  Yesterday, I followed him north on Lincoln Avenue to an area next to the railroad tracks overgrown with brush. I spotted the bright white flowers from the road—a stark contrast to surrounding greenery. He and I cut a few bagsful of flower heads while a freight train rumbled past us.  Their fragrance is so intense; I was surprised not to find any pollinators taking advantage of this nectary. Soon, there’ll be jelly coming out of the Prairie Fruits Farm kitchen.


Farmers’ Markets

We’re attending two markets this Saturday:  Urbana’s Market at the Square and Chicago’s Green City Market.  We’re flush with cheese:

    • Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence, cracked pepper
    • Fresh goat milk ricotta—if you haven’t tried our creamy, sweet & delicate ricotta, ask us for a taste
    • Angel Food Brie—the new size will make you want to buy a couple since you can now eat them in one sitting
    • Little Bloom on the Prairie: these camembert style rounds are just begin to be ripe—perfect for warming on the grill
    • Black Goat:  don’t let the ash rind throw you off-this little cheese is loaded with flavor
    • INTRODUCING: a trial batch of an ash-ripened cheese with the same white mold as Angel Food and Little Bloom—we’re calling it “LENA” after one of our salt & pepper coated goats (Lena-Candi). Try it alongside the Black Goat and let us know which you like better.
    • Spring Milk Moonglo—it’s creamy, but it still has that sharpness that you’d expect from this raw milk tomme
    • INTRODUCINGSpring milk Huckleberry Blue—we’ve changed the make procedure a bit on this cheese, and we really like the results:  it’s a sweeter, nuttier blue cheese than we’ve made before. The sycamore leaves that adorn the rind were soaked in an apple brandy made in Chicago from Rhine Hall Distillery. They use all Michigan apples to make their brandy.  It’s delicious!

Summer fruits are exploding around us, so we’ve been busy spinning some local fruit sorbettos this week. Of course, we have some of our standard gelato flavors. We don’t have a lot of pints this week, so come early if you want gelato (* indicates flavors we’re taking to Green City Market):

Local Strawberry*
Rhubarb sorbetto*
Southern IL Peach sorbetto*
Farm Happenings

Don’t forget to come visit us at the farm. We’re open Wednesday afternoons from 4:00 to 6:30. It’s a great way to break the weekly routine and cool off with a cup of gelato. Also, there are still quite a few tickets available for some of the farm dinners.

**I am receiving no monetary or in kind payment or have any business association with Prairie Fruit Farm and Creamery, I just like really, really good cheese and gelato and more!

Copyright 2014 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC. 2014. All rights reserved. 4410 N. Lincoln Ave., Champaign, Illinois 61822 Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC is responsible for the content of this email. Please contact Leslie Cooperband or Wes Jarrell with any inquiries.