By Jerry Zezima
I have never been a big cheese, even in my own house, but my house is now home to a big cheese — a box of Vermont cheddar — which recently arrived on my doorstep thanks to a lovely lady with big brown eyes, long lashes and a beefy figure.
She is none other than Snookums the cow.
I learned about Snookums after seeing an ad in the Old Farmer’s Almanac for a Massachusetts company called Rent Mother Nature, which allows humans to lease sheep, goats and, of course, cows and buy the wool blanket or the cheese that a chosen animal helps to produce.
Because I love cheddar and went to college in Vermont, which in the 1970s had more cows than people, I got the cheese ball rolling by going to the company’s website (RentMotherNature.com) and seeing that I could lease any number of things, animate or inanimate, including trees (apple, cocoa, coffee, grapefruit, maple, peach, pecan, pistachio or tangerine) and the aforementioned farm animals.
I decided to lease a cow because I could milk this for all it was worth, which amounted to $54.95.
And I could choose from a bevy of bovines: Angel, Crumpet, Eliza, Prudence, Tallulah and, the one I picked, Snookums. She’s the most beautiful, has the best name and is easy to take care of, mainly because she lives more than 300 miles away.
I would also get a personalized, gold-embossed cow lease, plus a gift card. In addition, I’d get what the company said were “fun, newsy progress reports describing the process of cheese-making and the latest ‘moos’ from the herd.”
And I would get, in four weeks, three 8-ounce bars of cheddar — made exclusively from milk given by Snookums.
I couldn’t be cowed into rejecting this fabulous offer, so I called Rent Mother Nature and spoke with owner Richard Hill, who told me that Snookums is a Jersey cow who lives on a small family farm in Vermont.
“Could I speak with her?” I asked.
“From what I understand,” Richard said, “she’s kind of shy. Besides, she’s probably out in the pasture and there’s no cellphone service.”
“How about the farmer?” I wondered. “Is he in the dell?”
“He might be,” Richard replied. “And he’s the extreme Yankee taciturn type, so he probably wouldn’t want to talk with you anyway.”
“What’s your favorite product?” I inquired.
“I love the goat cheese,” Richard said. “But I’ve tried everything. I get a peach tree lease every year.”
“How about the cow cheese?” I asked.
“That’s good, too,” he answered. “And it’s one of our most popular products. I’m sure Snookums will do a great job on yours.”
The following week, I got my cow lease in the mail. It read, in part: “This is to certify that Jerry Zezima, Lease No. 14921-1, is a lessee of a Rent Mother Nature Vermont Jersey cow.”
The lease was signed by — you guessed it — Snookums.
No, sorry, I mean Richard Hill.
Three weeks later, a box was delivered to my door. I brought the box inside and eagerly opened it to discover, nestled among a bunch of styrofoam packing peanuts and four small cold packs, the promised three bars of cheddar cheese.
“I can’t wait to try it!” I told my wife, Sue, as I got a knife, cut a slice and took a bite.
“How is it?” she asked.
I sighed contentedly and replied, “Heavenly. It’s thick and rich.”
Then I cut a piece for Sue, who let the taste settle on her tongue before saying, “It’s a bit heavy, but it’s delicious. I really like it.”
So, on a visit a couple of days later, did our two daughters and their husbands.
“Snookums really delivered,” I said. “Her cheese is an udder delight.”
Copyright 2023 by Jerry Zezima