Eating an Old Goat

Illustration by Skyler Swezy
Illustration by Skyler Swezy

 

Travis is a 33-year-old Software Developer who lives Albuquerque with his wife and young daughter. He was 19 when this story took place. The names of Bill and Vern have been changed. The following is derived from a recorded interview.

My parents were out of town so two friends and I decided to throw a party. My friends, Vern and Bill, were both hilarious and down for anything.

We wanted to have a Hawaiian-themed party with jungle juice and a roasted pig, like a Luau. The idea was to buy a whole pig and butcher it ourselves. But once we read about Luau pigs we changed our minds, the preparation was crazy and the cook time was 10 hours. Also, we couldn’t find a pig.

Instead, we found a goat for sale on Craigslist. We got into my truck and drove to a run down neighborhood of mobile homes to meet a guy with a goat. The goat was old but we didn’t have any other choices. It was the only one for sale. Plus, we had a budget and this goat was cheap.

We bought the goat for $40 and lifted him into the truck. I love animals and the idea of killing him started to make me really sad. By the time we got him back to my parent’s house, I had decided not to kill him for the party. I put him in my
parent’s barn.

At the party everyone had a good time, but afterwards things started to go sideways. It had wound down and only a handful of people were hanging out. That’s when Vern and Bill, well, mostly Bill (he was always a little off his rocker), decided we should kill the goat.

We went to the barn. Originally, we planned to shoot him but I was scared it would leave an awful mess. What would I say to my parents if they found blood spattered on the barn walls? I vetoed that plan.

Bill grabbed the goat and took him to the backyard. Out back, there was a tree with a rope swing. He used the rope from the swing to string up the goat. Bill, who was always prepared, had a large hunting knife in his truck. We decided to use the knife, it would be clean and quiet.

There was a small group of us, about ten people. At this point I felt indecisive. I thought, well he’s an old goat, I’ve never had goat meat before, and this is kind of what you do with an old goat. Plus, they already have him hanging upside down.

Everyone gathered around. Bill held him steady. Vern took the knife and slit his throat. The goat made a horrifying sound. It will always stick with me. The goat screamed.

The cut was clean but blood sprayed everywhere. The girls watching were appalled. Pretty much everyone was upset and some people left abruptly.

It was 1am, the plan was to eat him that night. We’d just throw him on the grill, have a nice meal of goat, and party a little more. But the process to gut and dress him took too long. By the time Bill finished butchering the goat, only the three of us
were left.

We started barbecuing at 2am. I was determined to prove the goat hadn’t died for nothing. We had to eat him. I took a rack of ribs off the grill and had a bite. It tasted awful. The little meat that was on the bone was rubbery and tough. We hadn’t used any seasoning; it was nasty. Vern and Bill had a few bites, and just threw it back on the grill.

So I had huge racks of ribs and all the raw leftover cuts. It was an enormous amount of meat. I mean it was the entire goat and everything that came with it: stomach, intestines, legs, head.

I wanted to dispose of the body. My parents would be home Thursday but the garbage truck didn’t come until Friday. When they arrived, my parents would find a trash can full of rotten meat. It would have been sitting in the July heat for four days. It would smell awful. There’d be no explaining it. I imagined my dad asking, “Travis, why is there a fucking goat dismembered in our trashcan?”

By now it was almost 3am. I was tired, I’d realized we’d made a terrible decision killing this animal and not eating it, and now I had to dispose of the body.

We put all the goat parts into a big, black trash bag. I told Vern and Bill, “I’ve got this,” and they went home. I felt responsible and didn’t want any more
strange activity.

My house was near the Rio Grande River. The area had many small farms with irrigation ditches carrying river water out to fields. Little patches of woods separated the farms. Behind my house there was a ranch style fence and a small patch of woods, just past the woods was an irrigation ditch. So it was fence, woods, ditch.

I thought, if I can get over the fence with the goat, I’ll throw the bag into the irrigation ditch and the water will carry it away to… somewhere else.

I was basically disposing of a body from a crime scene. I hiked across our acre-wide lawn with the heavy bag of warm goat. When I got to the fence, things took a turn for the worse.

The fence was made of logs, and the top was about 4ft off the ground. I climbed over, then reached back over for the trash bag. It was dark. I didn’t see a low-hanging tree branch above me. I gave the bag a giant heave, pulling it over my shoulder. The branch caught the bag and sliced it open. All the intestines and guts spilled out onto me. The goat fell apart right on top of the fence.

My shirt was bloody. I gathered as much as I could back into the bag and carried it through the woods. By the time I got to the ditch, I had dropped guts everywhere. Intestines were snagged branches.

I had to make multiple trips. I was miserable and covered in dead goat, while carrying body parts to the ditch and tossing them into the water. I remember thinking,
fuck this.

I was really pissed at Bill and Vern, and at myself for letting this whole thing happen. I continued with my work as best I could in the dark and eventually went home.

I was scared the sun was going to come up and reveal the awful carnage. What if someone found a trail of body parts and blood leading to my backyard. But in the end, nothing happened. The body parts just floated away. The ditch didn’t drain for months and it had a heavy current. My parents came home from their trip happy and I had to live with the traumatic killing of a goat in our backyard.

DID YOU FEEL BAD WHEN THEY KILLED THE GOAT?

I felt apprehensive beforehand but I also thought maybe it was for the best. We did buy him with the intent to eat him. And there was the group mentality factor — it was exciting. But then when it actually happened, I didn’t feel good. I’d never been a hunter and I didn’t grow up with that.

The goat scream got to me. I was like, ugh, poor dude.

WHAT WAS THE BAD CHOICE?

I’ll give you two answers.

As an adult looking back, the mistake was getting the goat in the first place. We had no business slaughtering a live animal. I feel like it was done in a crude way. That goat would have lived out the rest of his happy little life at a trailer park if we hadn’t taken him to a high school party.

At the time, the teenage version of myself felt the mistake was not putting the bag of goat in the trunk of a car and driving it to the ditch. I had a car and the ditch was just around the corner.

HAVE YOU KILLED AN ANIMAL SINCE?

No. I’ve never had the desire to. In fact my in-laws have a goat. We visit regularly and I always go sit, pet, and talk to him. His name is Happy.

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