Sisters JoBeth Evans and Maggie Davidson continue their family’s farming tradition
HINDSVILLE, ARK. – In the 1930s, Ewen and Edith Easterling settled outside Huntsville, Ark., and began farming. Then, in 1959, they moved to Hindsville when land became available in the fertile Hindsville Valley. There they raised their daughter Joie. However, she and her husband Vernon Williams were more interested in horses than cattle, even though they had dairy and beef cattle, and chickens, a very common combination at the time.
When their son Jeff was very young, he was given a bred heifer that subsequently lost twins when calving.
Nonetheless, he was enchanted with cattle. Consequently, when he was 12, he bought a dozen steers from a sale barn and turned them out on pasture, which began his life-long cattle addiction. Later, he and his wife Tammy raised two daughters, Maggie and JoBeth, on the same land. Both daughters believe Tammy was the glue of the farm as she took care of the house, helped on the farm and had supper on the table every evening.
Maggie and JoBeth inherited their father’s love of farming and now have farms of their own. They all raise commercial cattle that are predominantly Angus. Their medium-sized cow/calf herd is raised under the Arkansas Beef Quality Assurance program with the purpose of providing cattle raised with verified best practices, as part of an effort to increase Arkansas cattle markets outside of the state.
The lion’s share of their bull calf crop become steers and are raised on the farm and butchered for meat that they sell through their company Williams Angus Beef.
Customers can order beef online, choose a delivery date, then leave a cooler on their porch. All of the beef products they offer can be found on their website. Deliveries are made the first and third Tuesday of every month all over Northwest Arkansas. In addition, JoBeth, now Evans, handles the online platforms which include their impressive and user-friendly website. Other platforms include Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok. The farm has more demand than it can meet with its current size.
Animals never receive antibiotics or hormones in their beef program. This was something important to both Maggie and JoBeth, now Davidson, as they started raising families of their own. If an animal becomes ill and must be treated with antibiotics, it is taken out of the beef program.
Both girls were active in 4-H when growing up, with Maggie showing cattle and JoBeth showing sheep so they didn’t compete against each other. As they grew older, the girls vowed never to marry a farmer but broke those vows when the right men came along. They happened to be farmers, which made expanding the family business much easier. Each daughter has one son and daughter so the future of Williams Farm appears stable.
“When you are raised on a farm, you learn to work. That is what we did and now we are raising our children the same way.”
— Maggie davidson
Their herds calve in both fall and spring, with bulls in service for 90 days. Calves are weaned at 120 days having received black leg, respiratory and pinkeye vaccinations at 2 months and again at 8 months, followed by a third round three weeks later. After weaning, calves are separated from their mothers and put on pasture and grain. After 150 days, the calves transition to full feed for another 120 days, when they are then separated for the farm-to-table meat operation or the live animal sales and heifer retention process.
“Our ration comes from the University of Arkansas,” Jeff explained. “While creep feeders are not the most cost-efficient method, they do require less labor, which works best for us. Additionally, we use our land as pasture and purchase most of our hay within a few miles and from a reliable producer in Oklahoma.”
Jeff believes that the best way to provide optimum grass nutrition is to have most pastures contain a single species of grass: Bermuda or fescue. Cattle are rotated according to weather conditions and grass height. This protects the land and gives the grasses time to recover from grazing and provide optimum nutrition for the cattle. Taking care of the land is critical to a successful farming operation. Water is supplied by Mira-Fount drinkers and some ponds. This ensures clean water year-round thereby promoting good animal health.
Profitable farming not only requires good management practices but also working off the farm. Jeff worked as a carpenter for many years and Tammy has been a realtor. Currently JoBeth works as a public speaking instructor at the University of Arkansas after having taught at the high school level. Her husband Travis owns a construction and excavation business. Maggie has been an elementary teacher and her husband Sam started working in the poultry industry right out of college.
“When you are raised on a farm, you learn to work. That is what we did and now we are raising our children the same way” Maggie explained. “Being raised on a farm teaches patience because the animals come first. The kids assist in the daily feeding of cattle as well as their show animals. They are all active in 4-H where they show cattle, pigs and goats. This is a lot of work but they love it and they are learning some very valuable lessons.”
Another contribution to profitable farming is objective decision making without internal conflict. One thing everyone agrees upon is that no one ever has to worry about anyone else doing their share because all are hard workers and do what needs to be done. The family spends a lot of time working together and helping each other out. Cow working day is a big event, but they have done it together so many times that the process is usually smooth.
On Sunday mornings, the family is at church before heading to one of Tammy delicious meals. Sunday dinner has been a weekly tradition that started when the girls got married.