FERRIER FILES: Wilbur the Pig and the middle Tennessee farm he calls home
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WZTV) —
Batey Farms is one of the oldest working farms in middle Tennessee.
The Batey's began working the land here shortly after the Revolutionary War. That was very rural Rutherford county.
But not anymore -- This farm is surrounded by growing suburbs.
“I’m of the few farmers who can stop and have drunken noodles when i go to plant corn,” laughed Brandon Whitt.
Yet Batey Farms holds its ground.
In a world where small family hog farms don't exist, Batey Farms thrives.
In part because a little log cabin.
It’d the Batey Farms store and is open just eight hours a week, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.
“Our store is kind of an escape of the modern daily reality,” Whitt said.
Inside are fabulous natural pork products, bangers and bratwurst and Italian sausage.
There’s also four kinds of bacon. Did you know there were four kinds of bacon?
“Depending on what you want to do with it. We got a bacon for you,” Whitt said.
These are natural products, the only preservative ever used is celery salt and when they say, “hickory smoked,” they mean over wood not spray.
“I have food allergies and I am allergic to additives,” customer Joe Gurley said. “You can get pure pork products and they are wonderful. I love the products, it’s just good meat and the hospitality here is so wonderful.”
There is another big secret on this farm -- a pig.
A famous pig lives here, maybe the most famous pig in the world.
When the movie version of “Charlotte's Web” came out, they needed a Wilbur for the poster and book cover. They found him at Batey Farms.
“Wilbur the pig, Wilbur turned 12 on Memorial Day. He is a great big hog now, he is out of the pig stage,” 75-year old John Batey said.
Batey still hand feeds Wilbur. And while he certainly isn't even remotely cute anymore, this is a pampered pig, who has won over a hog farmer, which is not easy.
“Wilbur is still walking around on this farm, that's a big deal, that's a big deal,” laughed Batey.
And so is John Batey, the latest Batey to spend his life on this land.
It has been a farm, a home, and a way of life for 210 years.
And like any really good business, its been willing to change.
Not too much, just enough.