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Trucks, farm dirt, and boyhood plans

For nearly three decades, Enville’s Tim Bishop fulfilled his childhood dream of being both a long-haul trucker and a row crop producer
Story and photos by: Sarah Geyer 8/7/2019

 

In 2008, Tim Bishop retired from trucking to focus on farming full time. Since then, the Enville native, who also serves as chair of First Farmers Cooperative’s board of directors, has more than doubled his operation, currently raising soybeans and corn on 1,500 acres, with 900 in cover crops, on farmland in Chester and McNairy counties.
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Chester County’s Tim Bishop knew at a young age what he wanted to be when he grew up – a farmer and a truck driver.

“I was obsessed with both at an early age,” says the Enville native. “I loved helping out my dad [James] on our small farm and hanging around the uncles on my mom’s [Faye] side who drove trucks.”

In most cases, careers dreams in childhood are usually left there, but not for Tim.  He never outgrew his two boyhood passions or wavered from his desire for a dual career.

After graduating from Adamsville High School in 1978, Tim wasted little time finding 100 acres of his own to farm, and three years later, when he turned 21, he started driving a truck, too.

“I’d leave out on Sunday and be gone for days and as soon as I got home, I’d get on the tractor and head to the field,” he says. “When you’re only home a day or two, rain or wet fields can cause a lot of stress.”

By the early 1990s, Tim was ready to expand and over the next 15 years, he increased his farming operations to more than 450 acres. This growth, he says, would not have been possible without his family. His wife, Lisa, who recently retired after 22 years as a preschool teacher and director, handled the financial side of the business, while his dad, in addition to a full-time public works job and farming a few acres of his own, took care of his son’s farm when Tim was on the road.

When James passed away in 1998, Tim’s long-time friend and fellow farmer Jeff Hutton stepped in for the next few years to help fill the void. Tim continued to increase his acreage and, when it reached 750 acres in 2004, he knew it was time for full-time help, so he hired Rick Ooley.

“Even with Rick working full-time, there’s no way I could have managed that acreage without Tombigbee [Transfer Company],” says Tim, a long-time driver for the Adamsville-based company. “[My seniority there meant] I could pick and choose which loads to haul and had priority when scheduling vacation days.”

When the company announced it was closing in 2008, Tim was faced with a difficult decision.

“I could continue driving a truck,” he says. “But I’d be a new employee for another company. There’s no way I could drive those long hauls again and farm 750 acres.”

After nearly 30 years of life as both a truck driver and a row crop producer, Tim chose to focus solely on farming.

“With our daughter, Brittany, still in high school, it was the perfect time to be home,” says the proud father. “I got to attend her high school and college awards ceremonies, banquets, and all of her graduations – from Adamsville High, [University of Tennessee at] Martin, and pharmacy school at Union [University].”

Today, with more than a decade of full-time farming under his belt, Tim’s internal clock remains true to his time as a long-haul trucker – driving at night when traffic was light and sleeping four to six hours during the day.

“I’m still a night owl and that probably won’t change,” he says with a grin. “I’ve settled into farming, but I’ll always love the night life.”

Most who know him would agree that Tim has “settled” into agriculture. He has continued to increase his acreage, this year planting 1,500 acres of soybeans and corn and 900 acres of cover crops.

“I just love farming,” says the chairman of First Farmers Cooperative’s board of directors. “Especially the challenge of seeing what I can do with a crop and then trying to get better every year.”

 
 
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