The fourth entry in a feature called “Cheese’s Hidden Gems”. These are profiles of cheeses I personally consider to be special because each of them offer a thrilling and unique experience, if you can find them! This was easily the most dangerous assignment I have ever given myself, but it was worth it. Enjoy (and if you do, please share)!

Making cheese can be exhausting, and no one exemplifies this fact more than The Tired Farmer himself, Farmer Tired Jim. As elusive a cheese producer as any, the last time I was able to speak with Jim, his skin was the color of prison wallpaper and he had huge brown burlap sacks under his eyes, his massive body cutting an imposing figure. “Go to sleep, Jim!”, I once told him (in jest). He looked at me bleary-eyed and simply pointed to the large tattoo on his bicep that says, “no.”

Which brings me to his signature product: a fresh farmer cheese made from cow’s milk. It’s mild, and a little sour, almost like cottage cheese. I know this stuff is pretty easy to make, so I’m not sure what takes Tired Jim so long. I once asked him if I could have a look at his operation, ya know, for the blog, and he grabbed me by the back of my neck, drew me in and put a butter knife to my throat. “Operation? Are you a cop, son? A SPY???” I explained I was neither of those things (like I’d tell him anyway) but he seemed actually spooked, so I just dropped it.

Later, after we said our goodbyes, I drove about half a mile away, stopped in a Wal-Mart parking lot and waited. About an hour later, I drove back to Jim’s, parked my car behind his barn, peaked in the window and witnessed a touching scene: Tired Jim drinking black coffee from the pot and giving a gentle pep-talk to his cow, Marigold. Marigold, in return, insisted he not worry about her, that she’s not worth the trouble, and that he get some sleep. I quietly backed away so as not to disturb this intimate moment of rural surrealism. Unfortunately, Jim heard my footsteps and shot out my back windshield as I drove away.

Still, I thought his cheese was pretty good. I had it drizzled with a little olive oil and salt——salt, because I think he forgot to add it this last batch. If this dude would just get some rest, just a little, maybe a nap here and there, I think he’d be capable of a pretty decent farmer’s cheese, maybe even next-level———but don’t hold your breath. This guy is tuckered out.