Sunday, 10 August 2008

Worst. Poet. Ever.

And he's ours, all ours, in spite of his having been born in Scotland. Well, he may be tied with William McGonagall - another Scot, hmm, verrrry suspicious - but James McIntyre emigrated to Ontario at the age of 14, and died in Ingersoll at the ripe old age of 79. In between times he was a farm hand, undertaker, cabinet maker, upstanding citizen and civic adornment to the town of Ingersoll, husband to 3 wives (sequentially, I hasten to point out) and famous Ontario cheese poet. Yes, I said cheese poet. You know; he wrote poems about cheese. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

And he did it... um, hilariously. He had no intention of being hilarious. He was plainly quite deadly earnest, which only makes it all the better, or is that worse? His most famous opus is his Ode on the Mammoth Cheese Weighing over 7,000 Pounds - one of the great classics of cheese poetry - but I thought I would share one of his less well-known works today. I have noticed that there is something of an artisanal cheese-making renaissance happening in Ontario at the moment, and proffer this work in the hopes that it may still be useful to those who would make cheese in Ontario.

Dairy Ode

Our muse it doth refuse to sing
Of cheese made early in the spring,
When cows give milk from spring fodder
You cannot make a good cheddar.

The quality is often vile
Of cheese that is made in April,
Therefore we think for that reason
You should make later in the season.

Cheese making you should delay
Until about the first of May.
Then cows do feed on grassy field
And rich milk they abundant yield.

Ontario cannot compete
With the Northwest in raising wheat,
For cheaper there they it can grow
So price in future may be low.

Though this a hardship it may seem,
Rejoice that you have got the cream,
In this land of milk and honey,
Where dairy farmers do make money.

Utensils must be clean and sweet,
So cheese with first class can compete,
And daily polish up milk pans,
Take pains with vats and with milk cans.

And it is important matter
To allow no stagnant water,
But water from pure well or stream
The cow must drink to give pure cream.

Canadian breeds 'tis best to pair
With breeds from the shire of Ayr,
They thrive on our Canadian feed
And are for milking splendid breed.

Though 'gainst spring cheese some do mutter,
Yet spring milk also makes bad butter,
Then there doth arise the query
How to utilize it in the dairy.

The milk it floats in great spring flood
Though it is not so rich and good,
Let us be thankful for this stream
Of milk and also curds and cream.

All dairymen their highest aims
Should be to make the vale of Thames,
Where milk doth so abundant flow,
Dairyland of Ontario.

James McIntyre

Last year at this time, I made Sautéed Corn with Bacon, Peppers & Green Onion.

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