Can You Teach an Old Goat New Tricks?

Now I know that you all are thinking of the old adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but we are not going to talk about dogs in this post. We are, in fact, going to talk about old goats – both literal and metaphoric. And we are going to address this age-old question of teaching new tricks – both literal and metaphoric.

Let’s start with the literal old goat, Nightie. She was named Nightie by my grand-daughter before she even saw her for the first time. When we purchased her from the man who provided animals for the petting pavilion at the Texas State Fair,as well as for the nativity scene when the Radio City Rockettes brought their Christmas show to the Dallas area, she was less than a year old. Now she is 12 years old – an old goat.

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Because she is old and decrepit, she gets to come into the big barn at night when it gets cold. The big barn has heaters and gets closed-up during the night. In the big barn, she has her own 12×24 foot stall, complete with straw, hay and water. At first, she was a little reluctant to leave all her “friends” and venture into an unknown area. She had to be led with a halter and a leash. However, as she began to enjoy the comfort of her own boudoir, she was less and less reluctant, until now, as you can see, she walks to the big barn by herself, with very little supervision. Old goat, new trick.

Now we will turn our attention to the metaphoric old goat. For our purposes here, we will use me as the old goat (metaphorically speaking). Since this is my blog, I get to be the star. So, the question is, “Can we teach an old goat new tricks?” Also, for our purposes, we will use new skills as our metaphorical tricks.

Please understand that I do not want to brag. I just want to make a point. Let’s just take the last five years of my life. In that period of time, I have learned to use a lathe for woodturning. At the John C. Campbell Folk School, which I referred to in an earlier post, I learned, relief carving, working with copper, chip carving, and proper use of my camera. I have learned a lot about computers (blogging) and iPhones from my computer Guru, Regina. After completing the required course, this old goat obtained a license to ride a motor scooter. And, as you can see, I am learning to play the Banjo, not at the Earl Scruggs level, but at an enjoyable level for me. Old goat,new tricks.

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Why did I decide to learn so many new skills? Am I looking for a new career? Certainly not! I like retirement. I decided to learn these new skills because I wanted to, and as I stated in my blog Let’s Keep Learning New Stuff, “If we stop learning, our mind begins to atrophy.” So what is the answer to our question “Can You Teach an Old Goat New Tricks?” Only if the “old goat” sees the benefits (warmth, comfort, and a sharp mind) and wants to reap those benefits.

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3 Responses to Can You Teach an Old Goat New Tricks?

  1. hwherbs says:

    And, then there is the part where she/he becomes a stubborn old goat and decides she doesn’t want to go into the barn one night. Well, at least it wasn’t a REAL cold night!

  2. That’s how goats get to be old, with all their marbles–they keep learning new tricks!
    Nice essay!

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