Friday, March 5, 2021

‘Then I’ll Go Home’ by Shane Brown

Photo Credit: Shane Brown

I get to work every day, and I usually pack milk bottles up in coolers to be delivered somewhere in north Mississippi. But every day is different when other work needs to be done.

If Billy Ray needs to go to the hay field early, then I finish milking. If Paula needs to clean or take care of an errand or a kid, then I bottle. Every day is different. Every day is new.

But, my delivery for the day is the same. I load milk, ice it, travel to a customer and deliver. It wouldn’t be smooth if I didn’t help them, or them not help me. I’ve got a good buddy, Jamie, that shows up on my night shift to milk, too. We all count on each other. We all need each other.

My stretch of delivering is from Fulton to Cleveland. I stop in Oxford three times a week, most of the times four. I’ll go north and south and east and west of the farm, too. I visit Tupelo, Saltillo, Fulton, Pontotoc, Toccopola, Hernando, Senatobia, Clarksdale, Cleveland, Water Valley, Batesville and many businesses in those towns. I stay on the road more than I am on the farm… except at night.

At night, I’m at home milking cows. And, I always have friends or family there; they are always there helping. Billy Ray always has Snuffy helping him in the fields or where needed. Paula has BeBe, Keri and Michelle with the bottling. And all of our kids help feed and load and maintain chores. They want to see the dairy grow like we do. Support like that and support from our local customers won’t let us fail.

Failure: I don’t believe in it. I don’t let my mind get beat with it. Or, I try not to. I fight, but sometimes it wins. I’ve given up before, and I’ve lost at it. I’ll lose again. But I’m not going to let failure sink me or ruin me. I’ll battle it again. Maybe, I will lose again. I’ll give it another round with me though…yeah.

I rode around for probably three hours last night trying to listen to a certain song. I get it, but I don’t. I got tired of driving around backroads and hollows that listened to me sing as my windows were down. I needed to get home to Tula, and that’s where I found myself… at home.

I got out of my pick-up truck and found a chair and a couple cold beers. I made sure my cigarettes were in my pocket with a lighter, and I climbed the hill to Dad’s tombstone. I fought against a spider’s web and eased my way across the sacred ground that I believe it is. I laid out my chair and scattered my beer across his grave. Dogs are barking across the road, and that’s the only sound. Everything else is quiet… really quiet. I was content and rested, eager for my start of work today and for the dreams of what is to be for me and for my family. I had a peaceful feeling beside me that he knew, too.

Rilee asked me this weekend if she could go riding the four-wheeler at Meme’s, and I told her that we could. Her eyes beamed with excitement and she squealed, “Yay, Daddy.”

I love seeing my kids smile and happy. I love trying to do what ever their little hearts want to do. That four-wheeler ride made my heart as happy as hers. It was not the cool breeze in my face or the tall, green trees that wrapped the pastures we rode while cows grazed and stared at the loud hum of the ATV we were on that made me happy. It was knowing she was happy driving Daddy around as she tore over those fields. Our hearts were filled at that moment, and we needed nothing… nothing but an extra minute or two together, nothing but that cool breeze in our face. And the view we saw, we’ll take that, too…

Billy Ray and I were talking about success and work this morning. We talked about how bad you will hurt to want something. I asked him where he thought that comes from, and he put his finger in my chest. I agreed that he was right. He walked back over to his cows as they were pumping milk into his milk tanks and attended to them. His success comes from a strong desire he had in his mind. He researched about a dairy business for two years before it was built. He talked himself out of it in his mind, but eventually it was created. His success grows larger every day. He and Paula want it every day; they earn it every day.

The heart knows what it wants. Desire is something you do and do not have control over. Your mind can build it up, but eventually the heart takes over and runs with it. That feeling when your heart is pounding, and it creeps down into your gut. You can’t eat, and you can’t go to sleep. Anxiety builds and the only way to listen is to accomplish… or attempt to accomplish. If you fail, the heart will make you try it again. And again. The heart knows what it wants. You can’t tell it no. You may push it back in time, but that makes it only stronger. It makes that sting feeling in your chest. You have one right now, possibly. Go do it. Your heart knows what it wants…

I pulled into the dairy tonight after a long day of delivering, and I got a call from a stocker at our local grocery store… I still call it Big Star or Larson’s. They’ve changed their name to Cashsaver now, but it’s still the same store I remember as a youth. I picked up the phone, and it’s Orlando. He’s my contact on supplies of milk they have at the store. He tells me they are in need of milk. I tell him I will load up and come see him in a few minutes, and I hang up the phone.

The shelves at Larson’s have been restocked and the cooler in the back fridge is packed. I head east out on to University Avenue, and I glance in my side rearview mirror. The scenery in my eyes reminds me of what I saw as my hometown when I was a little boy, and I stopped to take a picture.

I know I have to get back to the dairy to help Jamie, who started milking when I left. I have to hurry up and let Paula get back to bottling because she was going to help Jamie. But, I have to take this picture. Then, I’ll go back home.

Shane Brown

Shane Brown is a contributor and the son of noted author Larry Brown. Shane is an Oxford native with Yocona and Tula roots. Shane is a graduate of Mississippi State University. He has two children — Maddux, age 9, and Rilee, age 7 — and makes his home at “A Place Called Tula.” He can be reached at

Copyright Shane Brown, 2016.

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