What's Happening on the Farm

It's harvest time at Kilgus Farmstead, and that means the whole family is BUSY.  We are harvesting, drying, and putting away food for the winter for all our animals, and it takes all of us to get it done. Between running two combines all day, transporting grain to the dryers and back to storage in four semi-trucks, AND keeping up with regular milking chores and daily life -- let's just say it takes all hands on deck to make it happen.  Even the youngest kiddos help with chores or ride along in the combines to spend time with their dad.  

While in the spring and summer months our Jersey cows enjoy grazing on green pastures for most of their nutrition needs, in the fall and winter months they get to enjoy the fruits of our harvest labor.  While lounging in our warm compost barn during the cold season, our girls are fed a nutritionally-balanced blend of feed that includes hay (grasses and clovers grown on our land), grains (including our own non-GMO corn and silage), minerals, and vitamins.  The harvesting and putting away that we’re knee-deep in now is kind of like the home preservation so many families are doing at this time of year – canning and freezing fruits and vegetables from the summer’s bounty – except on a much bigger scale. 
And this year, since it has been so rainy and wet, the cows are still getting a lot of nutrients from our lush, green pastures much later in the season than is typical.  So while we are working away in the fields harvesting, the cows stand in the pastures; munching and watching.  It takes a lot of effort to feed our dairy herd a healthy diet, but they reward us with exceptional quality milk, all year-round, which makes it all worthwhile!

Fall Farmstead Tours

Our tour season is drawing to a close.  It's been a busy summer filled with visitors, and we've shown the farm to lots of folks interested in learning about the way we do things here at Kilgus Farmstead.  They've gotten to meet our animals, visit the barn and the milking parlor, and learn about our creamery and milk-bottling while viewing the whole operation through the window in our country store.

There are still two tour opportunities remaining: Saturday, October 1st at 10:00am, and Friday, October 21st at 11:00am.  Tours last roughly an hour (or a little longer), cost $4 per person, and require a reservation.  In fall we rotate through our special seasonal soft-serve ice cream flavors, which many tourists & customers love!  These flavors include: pumpkin, caramel apple, butter pecan, and apple cinnamon. If you're interested in making it out to see the farm and sample our ice cream this fall, visit our website to learn more and contact us now to reserve your spot!  
Ice cream in our Country Store!

State and National Dairy Shows - 2016

Showing dairy cattle is a longstanding Kilgus family tradition.  Each year there are opportunities on both the local and national level to show our Jerseys, and this is an important way for us to validate the quality of our dairy cows.

Behind the scenes, father and son team Trent and Paul Kilgus spend a lot of time thinking about dairy herd genetics and health, working to maintain and grow the herd internally. Kilgus Dairy controls breeding on-farm and selects for the most desirable traits in each member of the herd, resulting in dairy cows with long, productive lives, and outstanding milk quality. And, as you can see from the throwback photo below, Trent Kilgus has been showing these carefully selected and cared for cows for many years! 

In August of this year, Trent showed several of our Jersey dairy cows at the Illinois State Fair (present-day photo below). And in November, Trent will bring our Jerseys all the way to Louisville, Kentucky for the national North American Livestock Expo. If you're curious to see for yourself how we rate at this upcoming show, you can watch the livestream of the competition here. Trent's younger sister, Carla, will show first at the The All American Jersey Junior Show at 8:00am on Saturday, November 5th, and Trent will be showing on the livestream starting at 7:30am on Monday, November 7th. Kilgus Dairy has consistently ranked in the top half of the class at the national expo, and that is the goal again this year!
Justin & Trent showing some of our first Jerseys back in the day (circa 2000)
Present-day Trent at the Illinois State Fair this year

Kilgus Farmstead at The Artisan Cup and Fork

On Sunday, October 23rd, Kilgus Farmstead is excited to participate in the Artisan Cup & Fork, a food competition in Champaign, Illinois that champions local farmers and artisan creations.  Eight local farm to table chefs combine with family owned farms to prepare one signature dish, which is then paired with an artisan brewer or cider maker to offer eight truly unique (and totally local!) culinary experiences.  

Kilgus Farmstead is paired with Chef Jordan Coffey of American Harvest Eatery in Springfield, Illinois. We don't know the details about the meal he plans to prepare yet, but we've heard that he is going to do something amazing with our Berkshire pork!  Meyer Produce will also be included in his creation, and the meal will be paired with a brew from JT Walker's. You can view the details about the other dynamic farmer-chef teams participating here.

The event is a fundraiser for The Land Connection, an educational non-profit organization that supports farmers (like us) and sustainable local food systems in Illinois.  If you're interested in supporting local farms and sampling eight delicious local meals and brews, you can learn more and buy tickets here

Recipe Ideas

Fall makes us think about dinners that pair our pork with local apples. Try Kilgus Farmstead Berkshire pork in one of these recipes tonight!

Caramel Apple Pork Chops:  This recipe only includes a handful of ingredients and looks simple, quick, and kid-friendly.

Roast Pork Loin with Apples: The preparation for this pork loin is a bit more involved, but includes other seasonal herbs, vegetables, and even an apple cider sauce, and looks fantastic! This is a delicious, tender cut and a good recipe for a family meal or entertaining.

Pork Roast with Apples and Onions: Pork shoulder is a cut that needs to be cooked slow and low (heat).  This makes it great for the slow cooker, but this recipe shortens the cooking time to only two hours by heating it on the stove top in apple juice and chicken stock (still keeping it nice and moist). This recipe pairs the roast with wild rice, but you could just as easily whip up some oven-roasted or mashed potatoes instead. This is a meal that will likely provide leftovers!

However you choose to prepare it, we hope you'll enjoy some Kilgus Farmstead Berkshire pork from our Country Store or one of our retail partners this fall!
Kilgus Farmstead Berkshire pork prepared at Carnivore Oak Park
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Photography by Jankun Studio, Forrest, IL
Copyright © 2016 Kilgus Farmstead, All rights reserved.

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