Lessons Learned on the Farm: Joey and Melissa Williams

Joey and Melissa Williams discuss the value of a good name, perseverance and family.

By Tharran E. Gaines | Photos By Colin Hackley

FarmLife: Who has had the biggest influence on your life?

Joey Williams:  It would have to be my dad. He taught me the importance of working hard and the value of a “good name.” You need to do what you say, because if you don’t have a good name in the community, you’re not worth much.

Melissa Williams: Like it says in Proverbs, “A good name is more desirable than great riches.”

The Williams family, left to right: daughter Annah, Joey, Melissa and son Landon.

FL: What’s the best advice you’ve received?

Melissa: Joey should probably say, “Marry Melissa.”

Joey: I would have to agree that Melissa is one of the highlights in my life. Otherwise, it would be to never quit. Grab it and growl. That’s sort of been the philosophy of my life, because if you quit, you’ll always be a quitter. It hasn’t always been easy, but you’ll never fail in life if you keep on trying.

FL: What have you learned from those older or younger than you?

Joey: Just work ethic! My grandpa always used to say, “Can’t never could do nothing.” And from people who are younger, it would probably be how to use technology.

Melissa: You just have to trust God, because it’s either feast or famine.

FL: How has your lifestyle changed?

Melissa: With two kids that are now 12 and 15, it’s gotten “crazy busy,” sometimes to the point of being chaotic. Yet, we still try to let the kids be kids at times. At the same time, we give them jobs on the farm, so they can develop a strong work ethic.

Joey: We limit our kids to one sport, plus music … so our lives can remain somewhat manageable. Our daughter, Annah, plays the piano and our son, Landon, plays the guitar. Still, with sports, lessons and everything else, Melissa will drive 30,000 miles a year. If the kids had something on every day, it would probably be twice that.

Melissa: Probably the biggest change, though, has been the adoption of technology. When Joey and I married 19 years ago, equipment was still pretty simple and basic. But since about 2005, it’s mushroomed every year. You’re either in or out. Yet, Joey was the second person in the county to have automatic guidance on a tractor, because we see it as either getting on board or getting left behind.

Joey: We have four complete auto-guidance systems, individual row clutches on all the planters, implement guidance on the strip-till bedders and guidance on the cotton picker. The cotton picker isn’t like a combine, where the row units are out in front of you. If you had to look down in front of the cab and watch each row unit all day, your back and neck would soon be killing you. It took a little while to sell Dad on the idea of guidance, but now that he uses it on the Challenger tractor, he loves it.

FL: What have you learned about predicting the future?

Joey: You can’t. If I could predict the future, I wouldn’t be farming. There’s too many times I’ve been wrong, thinking I can predict what’s going to happen next. If it’s not the market, it’s white flies, resistant weeds or hurricanes.

FL: What’s something you’d like to do or learn?

Joey: We took a family trip to Colorado one year and tried to snow ski, and I failed right off. I finally took off the skis and thought, “I can’t afford to get hurt.” So, I don’t know if that will ever happen again. Another thing I’d like to do is learn how to fly one day. I doubt if I’ll ever do it, though. And it’s odd, because I am afraid of heights, yet I love to fly.

FL: What advice would you offer FarmLife readers?

Joey: Probably trust in God and never quit. That’s the way I live my life. And always stay close to your family. Family is the most important thing we have.

Melissa: You have to realize that it takes everyone pulling together to make it work. We may have our cross words and squabbles at times, but when it’s over, we move on. I know that Joey has my back and I have his. Another thing is embrace change. And that’s coming from somebody who hates change. But if you don’t change with the times, you’ll always be following along behind everybody else.