Located near Champaign, in southern Illinois, Prairie Fruits Farm is owned by Leslie Cooperband and Wes Jarrell, who purchased it in 2005 with a view to operating a mixed use, small-scale fruit farm and goat dairy. With careers as professors within the Wisconsin and Illinois university systems, (Wes as head of Agricultural Science, and Leslie with a strong background in soil science and management) both bring a great deal of experience to farming life. Wes generally takes care of the goats and does the milking, while Leslie oversees the cheesemaking. The herd of Nubian and La Mancha milking goats currently numbers about 60 within a closed herd system. The milk is of extremely good quality and yields exceptionally high solids. The most recent development is that Prairie Fruits Farm is buying a limited quantity of sheep's milk from a local Amish dairy farmer. To that end, Leslie has started experimenting with several sheep's milk cheeses that compliment the existing range of goat's milk cheese. Leslie produces several different varieties of cheese, ranging from a fresh chèvre through to a raw milk blue. Most of her sales take place at Farmers' Markets or go to select retail stores, where invariably demand exceeds supply.
Black Sheep is dusted in vegetable ash which balances and neutralizes the acidity in the cheese resulting in a mellow and buttery flavored cheese with a pleasantly clean finish. In various stages of ripeness the cheese also takes chalky, lemony, and tangy notes.