SCARBRO, W.Va. — Like many West Virginians, Maggie loves paddleboarding.
It’s just a little harder for her, with the four hooves and all.
“I thought, ‘Goats have pretty good balance. I’m going to put the board in the creek in the back yard and see what it does,” said Nicole Linkfield, an outdoor enthusiast herself.
Yes, Maggie is a goat. And – although she declined to comment for this story – she clearly loves her outdoor sports.
And that earns him a good share of double takes.
After all, imagine it’s a typical sunny summer day by the lake. Sparkling light reflects off the water and you enjoy an afternoon sitting on the dock.
Admiring the view, you see something in the middle of the lake. Not a boat or a kayak – it’s something else in the distance.
You blink and look again because – it can’t be a goat, can it?
As unbelievable as it may sound, it is!
A man watching one of her latest releases said, “Oh my God, I can’t believe she’s doing this!”
Nicole is used to this kind of reaction.
“I have a stream in my backyard, so that was the first step,” she said.
Their relationship began shortly after Maggie was born on Nicole’s farm in Victor.
“She was a bottle-fed baby, which means I’ve bottle-fed her since birth,” Nicole said.
“She lost her mother when she was born, so she thought I was her mother the whole time she was growing up and she still wants to be with me.”
Nicole had five other goats born around the same time as Maggie, but Maggie was the only one interested in Nicole’s adventurous lifestyle.
“Every time I left the house, she was upset that I was leaving, so I started taking her with me and we went on hikes and did things like that,” Nicole said.
The first time she tried the paddle board, Maggie “jumped on it. I didn’t even have to ask him.
Most people are under the impression that goats are just farm animals.
But Maggie is clearly much more of a companion than that.
These days, Maggie is a quiet but curious 5-month-old who travels, hikes, and paddleboards with Nicole in West Virginia. Now that Maggie is used to traveling and paddleboarding, she and Nicole go about once a week to different lakes in the state.
“We go to Kanawha Falls, Summersville Lake, to Fayette Station just under the New River Gorge Bridge over the New River and Hawks Nest Lake,” Nicole said.
Paddleboarding isn’t the only fun activity Maggie can partake in. She can also go hiking, go to restaurants, visit breweries – just like any other enthusiastic Mountain State adventurer.
“We hike around the New River Gorge because that’s where we live, the trails around that area, along the river and along the edge of the gorge,” Nicole said.
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“We stay a bit close to home. But she goes to restaurants with me and everything. There are pet-friendly restaurants that like to see her as well as breweries in town.
To be able to participate in all these activities, Maggie needs the right equipment.
Since goats aren’t known to be great swimmers, Maggie has her own bright orange life vest that she wears whenever she’s near water. Although finding a life jacket for a goat proved to be a challenge, Nicole found a large dog-sized life jacket that proved to be a perfect fit for Maggie.
Whenever the two hit the road, Nicole comes prepared with a leash, a collar, and some of Maggie’s favorite — right now — snacks—blueberries.
However, if given the chance, she will eat grass and weeds all day. Nicole says most places they visit people don’t mind Maggie munching on the plants, because she’s just helping with trail maintenance.
Although Maggie can live the extravagant life of a traveler on certain days of the week, she is still expected to be a farm animal at home.
“She’s a pet for sure, but she’s an outdoor pet. She’s a farm animal, but she likes to play with me outside,” Nicole said.