On Webster Avenue at E. 167th St. in the Bronx stands a store with a large sign. Vivero, it says. Beneath the letters is a picture of goats and chickens gamboling against a bright green landscape. A banner runs across: Lamb Goat Chicken Guinea Hen Red Chicken Rooster.
I admit it. I am accustomed to buying my meat wrapped up in plastic. Perhaps that is why I have been drawn in to the Live Poultry Mart every couple of days since I’ve been on this job.
Hundreds of chickens crowd the crates, murmuring. The dozing rabbits stretch out, cream colored or black. But I go to visit the goats who are imprisoned with the lambs in wooden stalls.
I have always liked goats, their infernal eyes, their randy temperaments. These were going to die. I had my eye on a little brown one hunkered down in a corner. “That one’s seven months old,” said Muhammad, who works there not killing chickens, he told me, but eviscerating them. He wants to get another job, he said.
I wanted to save the life of this one baby goat. I called local animal sanctuaries but they were full up, or had anyway met their quota of goats. Also, said one, sanctuaries won’t accept donations from slaughterhouses. The money you pay for the animal only goes to buy more critters to kill.
I wanted to save the little goat, I was aching for it, but I knew I couldn’t take it on. Wherever Oliver roams is a goat-free zone, believe me. What about my kind neighbor down the road, the one with chickens? Keeping goats is illegal in our town, it turns out.
Today I visited again. The little brown goat had disappeared. Instead I saw 500 lambs staring at me in the murk, ready for the Muslim holiday coming up.