“A lot of people drive by, think this place is just a ratty hole. Then they come in, they see they’ve struck gold,” says Nate Tanner, employee of Sam’s Quik Shop in Durham. Tanner stands behind the beer tap on an early Friday evening, telling me how much nicer Sam’s is since North Carolina opened up to craft beer.
“All goats will die if you scratch them here,” Joel says, standing up to scratch Kevin just behind the shoulder blades. It’s a spot Kevin can’t reach because he doesn’t have horns, and his face looks drunk with pleasure. His eyes roll back in his head, which Joel says is how you know he’s feeling good, and how you calm a goat down before going into the show ring.
On a drizzly, late August day in northern Durham, Joel Dahms, fifteen, introduces me to his meat goat, Kevin. We are standing outside of Kevin’s stall, where Joel is getting Kevin ready for grooming. He leads Kevin onto a stand, and guides his face into a head brace. Kevin’s long ears flop on either side. “He’s pretty chill because he does this a lot, gets up on this stand and I brush him,” Joel says.
After a while we were led to our table, our host walking backwards and projecting in a tour-guide voice where to find the restrooms, the meat-carving station, the crab legs, the dessert bar. He sat us in a lovely windowed dining room with a view of the murky brown Intracoastal Waterway flowing to our west. Antique crab traps hung from the ceiling and a helmet from an old diving bell stared out from a ledge behind me. Our waitress came over and explained where the butter was for the crab legs and then we were off, up the stairs to the buffet.