SCARBRO, W.Va. (AP) — Like a lot of West Virginians, Maggie loves paddle boarding.
It’s just a little harder for her, what with the four hooves and all.
“I thought, ‘Goats have pretty good balance. I am going to put the board in the creek in the back yard and see what she does,’” said Nicole Linkfield, an outdoor enthusiast herself.
Yep, Maggie is a goat. And — though she refused comment for this story — she clearly enjoys her outdoor sports.
And that gets her a fair share of double takes.
After all, imagine it’s a typical sunny summer day at the lake. Glistening light is reflecting off the water and you are enjoying an afternoon of sitting on the dock.
As you take in the views, you see something out in the middle of the lake. Not a boat or a kayak — it’s something else far out in the distance.
You blink and look again because — it couldn’t be a goat, right?
As unbelievable as it may seem, it is!
One man that was watching one of her latest outings said, “Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe she does this!”
Nicole is used to that kind of reaction.
“I have a creek in my backyard so that was the first step,” she said.
Their connection began soon after Maggie was born on Nicole’s farm in Victor.
“She was a bottle baby which means I bottle fed her ever since she was born,” said Nicole.
“She lost her mom when she was born so she thought I was her mom the whole time growing up and she always wants to be with me.”
Nicole had five other goats that were born around the same time as Maggie, but Maggie was the only one who expressed any interest in Nicole’s adventurous lifestyle.
“Every time I leave the house she’d be upset that I was leaving and so I started bringing her with me and we went on hikes and did things like that,” said Nicole.
The first time she tried the paddle board, Maggie “jumped right on it. I didn’t even have to ask her.”
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 calm but curious 5-month-old kid who travels, hikes and paddle boards with Nicole around West Virginia. Now that Maggie is used to the traveling and paddle boarding, she and Nicole go about once a week to different lakes around the state.
“We go to Kanawha Falls, Summersville Lake, down to Fayette Station right under the New River Gorge Bridge on the New River and Hawks Nest Lake,” said Nicole.
Paddle boarding is not the only fun activity that Maggie gets to partake in. She also gets to hike, go to restaurants, visit breweries — just like any other enthusiastic Mountain State adventurer.
“We go hiking around the New River Gorge because that’s where we live, the trails around that area, down by the river and up on the rim of the gorge,” said Nicole.
“We kinda stay close to home. But she does go to some restaurants with me and stuff. There are some pet friendly restaurants that enjoy seeing her and the breweries in town.”
To be able to go and partake in all of these activities Maggie needs the correct gear.
Since goats are not known to be great swimmers Maggie has her own bright orange life jacket that she wears anytime she is near the water. Although finding a life jacket for a goat proved to be a challenge, Nicole found a dog-size large life vest that turned out to fit Maggie perfectly.
Anytime the two of them hit the road Nicole comes prepared with a leash, collar and some of Maggie’s — at the moment — favorite snacks, blueberries.
However, if given the chance, she will eat grass and weeds all day. Nicole says that most places they visit people don’t mind if Maggie nibbles on the plants because she is just helping out with trail maintenance.
While Maggie does get to live the extravagant life of a traveler during certain days of the week, she is still expected to be a farm animal at home.
“She is a pet for sure, but she is an outside pet. She is a farm animal, but she likes to play with me outside,” said Nicole.