The Ogilvie School of Hard-Knocks
by JAMES A. MARPLES
Aug 13, 2013 | 6013 views | 0 0 comments | 1372 1372 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With temperatures in recent days hovering at, or above, 100 degrees, I have enjoyed reading The Gilmer Mirror articles on the upcoming school season. These are the "dog days of summer" with sleepy dogs on front porches of houses and kids enjoying backyard swimming-pools. This time of year reminds me of a goat that I bought for my cousin Jon Marples. He bought a female goat and he insisted that I buy a male goat. The purchase was made literally at 'a road-side stand' set-up by kids (perhaps young 4-H kids or young F.F.A. kids hoping to make a few bucks). The female goat my cousin chose died shortly after giving birth to a kid (literally 'kid' is the name for a newborn goat).

The male goat I purchased, I named named "Ogilvie" because he ogled or stared at people. Yet, I have to give that old goat credit for teaching many "Lessons in Life".

Soon, we will be hearing the grunting of high school football players getting ready for the Season. I remember the 'practices' well with drills involving pushing blockers, quick stepping through rows of tires and other rigorous maneuvers.

In years gone-by, even though my cousin lived in a rural area, we could still hear the P.A. system of a nearby school of a coach barking-out commands to players. I used to feed the goat Ogilvie some Habanero-flavored corn chips. They were were super hot. I'd have to have ice-tea to quench my thirst. That goat would "Match me" chip-for-chip til his eyes started to water; but he never gave up. He stood there, eagerly eating ever chip without immediately quenching his obvious thirst. He "kept his eyes on the prize". The old Ogilvie goat might be on one side of a chain-link fence; and I'd be on the other side as I fed him those chips. In my more agile days, I might briskly do a zig-zag, and just like a football-player, Ogilvie would follow my every movement, prancing back and forth, getting more and more anxious by my 'faking-him-out'. Never deterred: Ogilvie wanted to get to his hot Habanero chips. Just feeding him those chips made my finger more 'Orange-colored' than if I had fed him Cheetos (which I sometimes did). You could almost see the intentness in his bluish-slit eyes which enabled him to see better in the dark. Ogilvie had an intent gaze that I seldom see in other goats.

As Ogilvie grew older, his horns grew longer and his shaggy beard grew longer. My cousin wisely built a study shed with solid 6-inch by 6-inch timbers along with some 4 by 4's too. If Ogilvie was impatient for food: He would ram the wall of his shed with all his might. His ramming-power would split any

football player's helmet. An elderly woman at Jefferson, Texas once told me that her billy-goat demolished her metal shed and she got rid of her animal. With Ogilvie, it was no problem since the structure was well-built, the fences were horse-high, bull-strong, and pig-tight. Granted, Ogilvie pushed a few places of fence-fabric out of shape, but he never, ever got loose. He was an ornery cuss, yet he was a comical beast. He sired several offspring; they each resembled him, but none were exactly like him.

Agriculture is still a mainstay of the Texas Economy. Although many people around Gilmer are luckily aware of the value of goats, many people in bigger cities such as Longview, Tyler, Dallas and Ft. Worth often take goats for granted. Auction barns exist in those locales. However, people in the bigger towns and cities are losing part of their Heritage by forgetting our rural cultural in favor of urban pleasures. I wish the big cities would be "more animal friendly".

I grew up in Kansas, and I remember my late Dad telling me that my eldest brother J.W. "Bill" Marples, Jr., couldn't digest cow's milk as a baby. My Dad started raising a herd of goats for their milk which my brother Bill could digest. When my Dad told me that story over 30 years ago about his younger days, I never dreamed nor envisioned that I'd ever be helping raise goats with a cousin in Texas, many years later. I was a "town boy" accustomed to cats and dogs, plus we even raised chickens and I had a pony when I was a young boy. But, I knew virtually nothing about goats first-hand until about the year 2005.

In many ways, people in Texas and the Midwest States are fixated more on horse and cattle ranching. To be sure, Longhorn cattle have a certain 'majestic charm'. However, raising African Goats in Texas makes a person think. They can be wily and crafty creatures. It will exercise-your-brain to anticipate their every move. Cold, chilly rains can be devastating to goats ---especially nanny goats that have given birth--- that have no shelter. A goat can take sick and die quickly in such adverse conditions. In some ways, my experience with goats has made me more sensitive to the plight of HOMELESS PEOPLE living under bridges or in cardboard-boxes. And, just as "Man cannot live by bread alone"...a goat cannot live on grains alone. A healthy goat thrives on "greens". Years ago, I planted turnips when we had chickens and goats. That was one of the wisest things I ever did. It served multiple purposes; along with other seeds I planted in the garden. My cousin and I had such a bountiful and surplus harvest, that we gave-away "free" produce: tomatoes, radishes, zucchini squash, turnips, okra, cantaloupe, watermelon, and our excess chicken-eggs to Homeless Shelters, Rescue Missions, Church food pantries, nursing homes, and anyone who had a need. As I was building sweat-equity on the land: Ogilvie goat taught me Perseverance year-round. Even though that goat ate a bagful of Habanero chips at a pop, he would eventually waltz over to his horse-trough to finally get his drink of water. In this hot summer season: Whether you have a dog, cat, or goat: Please make sure your animals are given fresh water and shelter/shade. Whether as 'pets' or as 'Livestock' ----animals NEED the guiding-hand of prudent human stewardship. In return, those animals can be a teacher to you, as well as a companion for you.....if you take heed and pay-attention to them.

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