- This time on Tennessee Crossroads, we visited a farm full of happy goats in Williamson County. We will drop you into Becky's Grocery and Grill in East Tennessee. We'll meet a Fairview fellow who's helping revive blacksmithing. And discover a sweet success story down in Lynchburg. I'm Joe Elmore, welcome once again to another Tennessee Crossroads. Our first stop takes us to rural Williamson County, where a young couple is living the dream, so to speak. All because of their fascination with a certain breed of livestock and the public's demand for locally sourced farm fresh food. Here we go to Noble Springs Dairy. Tucked away on a piece of Williamson County paradise, you'll find the home of the nobles, Dustin, Justyne, and their daughter Brenly. It's a farm they also share with more than 150 goats. Four different breeds actually. And goats are not only their livelihood, goats got the couple together. - Because of our mutual interest in goats, that's kind of what brought us together several years ago. - We talked about turning our hobby of having the goats into a business and we just never dreamed that it would have grown as much as it has when we started this in 2009. - [Narrator] When they teamed up to share their goat raising ambition, a kind, generous family friend let them a hand and some land. - [Dustin] We're lucky that we get to look out over this huge valley every morning when we get up and come to work. It's kind of nice to get to see all the open beautiful land out here. - [Narrator] Noble Springs Dairy has been in business since 2009. Now it provides pasteurized goat's milk and cheese to farmer's markets and stores locally and to restaurants around the state. - [Justyne] When we first started, we went to a lot of farmers markets. And over time we were able to get into different retail locations and have different distributors pick up our products and sell them to far retail locations that are kind of out of our reach and things that we wouldn't necessarily be able to accomplish by ourselves. So it's been really nice to see our business grow and be able to count on other companies to help us get our products in places and available to the public. - [Dustin] Our primary product is chevre, it's spelled C-H-E-V-R-E and that's the French word for goat. And we make more of that than anything else. Probably 85 or 90% of our production goes to chevre. We also make fetta, we make a couple of aged cheese as a soft ripened cheese and a hard cheese is similar to Gouda. The chevre comes in a variety of flavors from sweet to savory, we have some with honey and berries. - [Narrator] Raising goats may seem simple. You give them water, food and some shelter and they give you milk. However, Dustin claims he's learned a lot beyond his degree in animal husbandry. - Every day we learn something new about the health of animals and how to manage them. And so it takes a lot of work. We milk the goats twice a day, every day. All of our kids are bottle fed. So we feed them a bottle of milk two or three times a day, every day for three months. And then there's just all kinds of different routine things we have to do to make sure they stay healthy and comfortable. And the southeast is kind of a tough environment for dairy animals because it can be so hot and humid in the summertime. It takes a lot of extra care to make sure that they stay happy and healthy and productive for us. - [Narrator] Dustin and Justyne believe that their natural style of goat grazing, allowing their stock to roam the land and supplement their diet with local vegetation, is a key to producing better milk and cheese. - A lot of dairies have become more confined-type of setting for animals. Our goats have access to a huge pasture out here behind their barn. It's so large that they can't keep up with the growth. They get to eat bushes, vines, all kinds of weeds and so they get to eat some live natural vegetation. So that makes a big difference in the quality of the milk and feel like the goats really enjoy getting to go out and climb up and down the hillsides out here and sometimes you'll see them running up and down the hills and just playing and having a good time. - Talk about being one of the family. Each of the goats has a name, this is Nisha and Mandy. I'm not sure which is which, I just know that they both want this bottle, really bad. The nobles offer tours of their 200 plus acre farm, answering all kinds of questions about these ever curious barnyard beast. Like, what are those things hanging from their necks? - Some of the goats have wattles and it's funny that you ask about that 'cause I was just reading about that on the internet today about how they apparently have no purpose. They're just there for decorations, is what it seems like. - [Narrator] Visitors also ask about those mysterious eyes. Rectangular shaped and horizontal. - Because they're smaller animals and they could be subjected to predators, that helps with their peripheral vision. That helps them to be able to see all the way around, they can turn their head 180 degrees at least. - [Narrator] To the couple's daughter, Brenly, the barnyard is a bountiful source of pets and playmates. And she's already involved in beating the livestock. Well, it looks like this goat wants to feed on Brenley's hair. - [Justyne] I guess because she's been raised around the goats, she doesn't really have a fear of any animal. Sometimes that's a bad thing 'cause not all animals are aware of what a tiny little human is. - [Narrator] The movement toward locally sourced food has paid off for the nobles. Their milk and cheese products are in demand by a growing health conscious customer base. That makes all the work and long hours worthwhile. So what about the future of Noble Springs Dairy? - Every year we grow a little bit, maybe by 10 or 15%. We want to make sure that we're not overextending ourselves or you know, not taking proper care of the animals because we're getting too focused on growing and trying to make more money. We're always trying to be conscious of the quality of the care of the animals and the quality of the product that we're putting out. - We love what we do and we want to keep doing it and we're hoping that Brenly will like it too, but if not, she can always do whatever pleases her. But for the meantime, I guess she can be immersed and involved in all that we do with the goats. - [Narrator] One of the best restaurants in Maryville, up in East Tennessee is not really at Maryville. Becky's Grocery and Grill has a Maryville address, but its location is, well, in the middle of nowhere. That's what Rob Wells discovered on a recent visit. - If you drive from Maryville looking for Becky's, you are going to drive and drive and drive and then drive some more. You just keep driving. As you're driving, you ask yourself, gosh, is it worth the effort? Well, yeah, it's Becky's. - We're open. - We're on nobody's waiting anywhere. But they seem to find us. - [Narrator] Yes, they do and have for quite a while. In fact, Becky Cable's mother actually started the place and her son, Travis, just about grew up here. - My granny, she had it since 70 or 71, I was born in 75. And mom worked with her in here then. So this is where I grew up. So i've been in here 40 years and on seeing it, see I'm 40 years old. So I've been here with it that lifespan of our family, you know, since I was born. - [Narrator] Travis runs the place now, but Becky is still very much Becky. - She's just one of the friendliest people you'd ever meet. Her smile is ever present. And this is genuine smile. - When I was manning the grill, and there would be a line coming up to pay and they would have the opportunity to watch once and I'd have several tickets and one girl said, "Becky, how many things can you do at one time?" And I said 12. And about that time, I messed up something, I said, "whoops, 13." - [Narrator] Becky loves to have a good time and her customers appreciate that. - We like Becky and Travis and all the people that work out here. They're really wonderful, is like an extended family. And they have wonderful food. - I'm bringing yours in just a second, okay? - And a pouding, and baked chocolate pie. - [Narrator] Yes, the food. - [Becky] We make everything from scratch. I make them the way mom always did. I'm from a family of eight, so my mom was cooking all the time. So she loved to cook, dad loved to cook and I loved to cook. - [Narrator] Particularly, desserts. Pies are a specialty. - [Becky] I just love to bake. And I enjoy watching the people enjoy. They really, you know, they really enjoy them. So it makes me feel good about what I do. - [Narrator] Sam Travis may be in charge, but it's Becky's food. - [Sam] She makes the recipes, we just follow, you know. - You have to have pepper, pepper, pepper, plenty of pepper. - [Narrator] One of the favorite recipes around here, is for what she calls the Ross burger. Made, of course, with homemade Pimento cheese. - We toast them in a cheese and put them in the bread. And then we cook their patty to either four ounce or the eight ounce. And the minute it's cooked, you put it in with the cheese on the bread, continue to toast it and then dress it. You know either way, whatever they want on it. And they love them, they love them. - [Narrator] The burgers, remind me of a taste from long ago, which makes sense, since Becky learned some of her tricks working at a hamburger place a while back. - When I was in high school, I worked at little Dradvian out on the highway. Highway 73 and everybody in this area, remembers Joe's Dravidian. Andy Huddleston owned it at the time and their hamburgers were to daffle. And so I stood by him for about three years and he lined up with his orders and what came next, and I asked him, you know, I was 14, 15, 16 years old and I'd ask him, you know, why'd you do that? You know, and he would tell me, never dreaming that I would ever, you know, need the information. - [Narrator] The old time taste of those burgers, is certainly one reason that once you come to Becky's, you'll come back. - We started coming every Friday and loved her hamburger. So every Friday this group shows up here at one o'clock. - [Man] And mostly I'm just like family more than a customer, you know, because we have to come once every week, the same day every week. They don't miss a day, you know. - [Narrator] Even the long and winding road to Becky's doesn't deter them. - I'm just getting out of town, you know, I come about 10 miles to get here and no problem at all in that. - [Narrator] So the food, the drive, and of course, Becky. - [Becky] One little kid came in. They brought the grandkids in and the minute she walked in, she said, "This is like being at grandma's house." I said, "You are at grandma's house." 'Cause I am a grandmother. - [Narrator] Lots of us would drive way out of the way to experience Becky's Grocery and Grill. And that laugh. - Thanks, Rob. Blacksmithing was on the verge of becoming a Lost Ark. But in recent years, it's enjoyed a resurgence. In fact, there's even a TV show and video game all about iron and steel. Tammy Arthur met a blacksmith in Fairview not too long ago, who took up the task log before it was cool. I spend all day out here pretty much by myself. Except for him. That's the shop boss. And if I screw up, there's only one idiot in the shop. - [Narrator] Anthony Martin and the shop boss, spend most daylight hours in the red tail forge workshop. A lean-two-type barn that provides Martin with all the tools he needs to be a blacksmith. - I wanted to work by hand. I didn't want to have presses and all the power tools, so I wanted to work by hand and the more I researched colonial style blacksmiths and the work they did and saw what they could do without any modern conveniences, no electricity, just their brain and their hands. And I became a real fan. So I kind of stuck in the 18th century. - [Narrator] Anthony is a Georgia boy who moved to Nashville in 1982 to, you guessed it, play music. - I was a keyboard player. I'm a guitar owner, but I'm a keyboard player. - [Narrator] He worked for several years with the late Mel Tillis. But he said in the late 90s, the music business started to change. - [Anthony] I get up every morning, take a shower and get all dolled up, jog to work in the air conditioner and get out, work all day in the air conditioner. And now I get up and take a shower and walk out here and sweat all day. So yeah, it's a just complete left turn. - [Narrator] So now instead of tickling the ivories, he's tinkering with iron and steel. - [Anthony] When you work as you know, in the entertainment business, a lot of times you're responsible for stuff that somebody else gets all the credit for. And it's kind of like somebody's holding on to your belt. While in this, if you do something great, there's nobody to hold you back. You just get to do it, and it's just awesome. - Anthony started by making kitchen utensils, just like this ladle and the boiled peanuts, yeah. He made those too. Many of Martin's kitchen items can be seen on the syndicated TV show, Taste of History with Chef Walter Stabe. For Anthony, each piece must have a purpose. - [Anthony] I'm not an art guy. I mean, really, I'm just not an art guy. I like to do pieces that when you get, you go, "Oh, this was awesome, and I'm going to use it." You know, I want people to use what I do. - [Narrator] Anthony often gets asked to make period pieces for national historic places like the Polk House or the Hermitage. - [Anthony] One of the things we'll do today, we'll be going to the Customs House in Philadelphia, which I think Jefferson called it, the most genteel Tavern in America. - [Narrator] And civil war re-enactors love his handmade weapons. He admits, he had to do his research and a few trial by fire moments to get the weapons just right. - [Anthony] Get it too hot and you hit it and in it looks like hitting a brick. It just powders. If it's not hot enough, nothing ever happens and you make cracks in it. If you don't quench it right, it doesn't work. There are so many things that go into making knives and weapons. - [Narrator] Anthony isn't the only creative one at Red Tail Forge Works. His wife has a talent for up-cycling odds and ends. - My wife calls herself a very trashy lady. Because she goes through people's discarded things, everything from shoes and knickknacks to silverware and picks out the neatest stuff she's can find, and creates wind chimes out of them. - [Narrator] The two seldom meld their crafts. Except for the occasional horseshoe he'll toss her way, Martin keeps his business separate. He very rarely makes anything that didn't have its rightful place in the 1800s. Even the anvils and hammers appeared to come over on the Mayflower. - [Anthony] Even the hand pump blower has a patent date of 1850. - [Narrator] The primitive and never pristine workspace of a blacksmith seems to fuel Anthony's desire to design with iron. Even through blazing temperatures and un-airconditioned shed, he can spend hours pelting and melting steel. - [Anthony] I'll bring a piece of steel up red, and you're gonna think that's hot. But it's going to drop to this color and it's still going to be 800 degrees. - [Narrator] Despite the constant heat, he says the creative outlet it provides, is worth the sweat. The satisfaction of that final hit with the hammer that seals the deal. That last little twist that puts the finishing touch on the fireplace set that will sit in a home once occupied by one of our presidents. Anthony can't really say if it's the finished product or the process. But much like music, blacksmithing at times has got a rhythm. The rise and fall of the blower. A sort of groove as he moves from fire to forge, the downbeat of the hammer. For Anthony, the back breaking work is worth it. - [Anthony] Physical labor which is, I grew up kind of like you, I grew up on a farm, and I've always loved physical labor. It doesn't bother me at all. Most days, this is much less like work than being in music business. - Thanks, Tabby. Billy Thomas got bored when he retired, but that living in the famous town of Lynchburg, gave him an idea. He would make something just for the tourist. Something to keep him busy a few days a month. But as Teresa Bush discovered, his sweet idea turned into a sweet, but busy job. - [Narrator] You could say it's cake with a kick. What's the kick? Jack Daniel's whiskey. The thing that put Moore county and Lynchburg Tennessee on the map. Retired accountant and Lynchburg resident, Billy Thomas created this concoction and calls it The Lynchburg Whiskey Cake. In the beginning, it was just Billy and his niece Clida. Now he has six employees. And Billy says, this week venture began because he was bored. - I just knew I couldn't sit down. I just can't do it. I've got to do something. I don't have enough to do. And I've been thinking for years about a cake and probably it's 30, 40 years without the cake and a restaurant. I used to own a restaurant. A steak restaurant and a night business. And either that, or making something to market. I wanted to be in manufacturing, so I thought, this is what I need to do. And I liked that cake and I thought, this time there is no work at the market oil. - [Narrator] That cake Billy is talking about, is one his beloved mother Athma, whose nickname is bond, used to make when he was growing up. - [Billy] Well, it's just mother's favorite cake. She'd say, I'm making my favorite cake for the kids, when no one has made it Christmas time. - [Narrator] Since his mother's favorite cake did not include liquor, Billy had to modify the recipe just a little bit. Once he and his family agreed with the taste, Billy decided he needed to ask strangers their opinion. - [Billy] I carried it downtown. We have a lot of tourists here in Lynchburg. I carried for the clerks and the tourists on the street that didn't know me. So be independent, just old, simple way. Would you like to taste this cake? And they taste it, and how did you like the cake? And just tell me the truth. And they would tell me. And I just wanted to do 50 cakes a month and sell them to the stores downtown for tourists that comes here to have something a little novelty to carry home. And by the time we got going a couple months, we was up to 200 cakes a month and end of the year was at 500. So it grew from that and it's still growing. Now we're doing 300 a day. - [Narrator] The work is done in a quaint building that looks more like a country cottage than a factory. And Billy, he never has to walk very far to work because it's in his backyard. - [Billy] We make it here on the farm, we wanna make it what she made it. - Billy made the cakes for about 13 months before deciding he was ready to diversify. He came up with the idea to make some candy and his wife Nancy, thought, something with pecans would be nice. So Billy's idea became the Lynchburg Whiskey Balls and Nancy's idea, became the Lynchburg Whiskey Pecan Pralines. A whiskey ball is a sugar base candy mixed in with pieces of pecans and pin dipped in milk chocolate. The pralines are jumbo pecan halves from Georgia, coated in a candy mix, and of course both items are flavored with Jack Daniel's. - [Billy] They hit the market . Yeah, I've started to put the stores down in Lynchburg. - [Narrator] Because the company makes so many products flavored with Jack Daniel's whiskey, you may be wondering, how is Billy able to transport the amount he needs each month in to a dry county? Well, we wandered too. - [Billy] I went to legislature with my own bill to allow me to haul unlimited quantities in to a dry county to use in this bakery. And it was passed. - [Narrator] Our bakery that began as a hobby, has grown into a successful business for Billy Thomas. Life for him is now sweeter than ever. - [Billy] I wish I had started this 30, 40 years ago when I first had daddy or I just kept putting off morning too. And it's really enjoyable. It's always good to be in basics for sale. I love my career, I had a great career. It was pointed, I wouldn't trade back for anything. But at the same time, I wish I started my business when I was 11. - Well, that's gonna do it for this edition of Tennessee Crossroads. Thanks for joining us. Be sure to check in on our website when you get a chance, tennesseecrossroads.org. Follow us on Facebook. Meanwhile, stay happy, stay safe, and I'll see you next week.
May 07, 2020
Season 33 | Episode 35
This week on Tennessee Crossroads, meet a young Williamson County family and explore their goat dynasty. Go all in for old-time burgers, homemade desserts and a big helping of hospitality at Becky's Grocery and Grill in Maryville. Visit Anthony Martin at Red Tail Forge Works. And stop at a place in Lynchburg that makes cake with a kick. Brought to you by Nashville Public Television!