SCARBRO, W.Va. — Like a lot of West Virginians, Maggie loves paddleboarding.
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 backyard and see what she does,’” said Nicole Linkfield, Maggie’s owner and 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 reflects off the water, and you are enjoying an afternoon of sitting on the dock.
As you take in the view, 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.
People are also reading…
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!”
Linkfield 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 Linkfield’s farm in Victor, West Virginia.
“She was a bottle baby, which means I bottle fed her ever since she was born,” said Linkfield.
“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.”
Linkfield had five other goats that were born around the same time as Maggie, but Maggie was the only one who expressed any interest in Linkfield’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 Linkfield.
The first time she tried the paddleboard, 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 paddleboards with Linkfield around West Virginia. Now that Maggie is used to the traveling and paddleboarding, she and Linkfield 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 Linkfield.
Paddleboarding 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 Linkfield.
“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, Linkfield found a dog-size large life vest that turned out to fit Maggie perfectly.
Anytime the two of them hit the road, Linkfield 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. Linkfield 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,” said Linkfield. “She is a farm animal, but she likes to play with me outside.”
6 ideas for throwing your pets a party
Dog days of spring
To honor the fun, quirky and lovable sides of your pooch, throw them a bone by hosting a doggone fantastic party. Invite some of their favorite furry friends.
Serve up favorite dog delicacies like homemade Peanut Butter Bacon Banana Dog Treats (see strawberryblondiekitchen.com for the recipe) or store-bought Ziwi Good Dog Rewards Air-Dried Beef Dog Treats, rated among The Strategist’s top 10 dog treats of 2022. And don’t forget a bacon-topped layer cake or pup-cakes.
Provide plenty of activities for pups, such as a ball pit or supersized bucket for bobbing for tennis balls. Use retired shoes to construct the ultimate scavenger hunt. The hound who finds the most gets a prize.
Unlike their canine counterparts, kitties can be rather finicky about who they frolic with. So unless you know for certain your whiskered one is a fan of a fellow feline, it’s best to keep the guest list limited.
Be sure to have plenty of catnip on tap. Sneak it into clever morsels, such as Carrot and Catnip Kitty Cat Treats (recipe on epicuricloud.com) or toys like CiyvoLyeen’s six-pack of plush Sushi Cat Toys with Catnip (shown in the image here, $15.99 at Amazon). Create a scratching post palace fit with plenty of claw-digging surfaces, a catwalk and other obstacles suited to paws and playfulness.
If you want to get fancy, consider constructing an outdoor kittytopia, taking inspiration from diycuteness.com — with multilevel cat trees or a bi-level shelf enclosure. Invite your cat’s human guests to wear their cat pajamas and treat them, in turn, with cake pop “yarn balls,” and “hairball cookies” (round-ball cookies covered in coconut).
Birds of a feather party together
Before gathering a flock of feathered friends, it’s important to remember that birds can be picky about with whom they choose to socialize; a wrong pairing can result in more than a loss of a few feathers.
Most all exotic birds love fresh fruits and vegetables. Just make sure you pick those that are safe — some produce like avocado can be deadly. Make a spread of chopped delights for beaks to bury into. As an extra treat, parrots and parrotlets go bonkers for parrot cookies (Oven Fresh Bites has a number of flavor options available on Amazon.com).
Set up perches of varying shapes and sizes, with engaging toys, ropes and interactive features.
Play a variety of fun songs, as many a bird has been known to “get down with the get down” when hearing a favorite tune.
If your flock happens to have clipped wings, delight them with an ultimate outdoor birdbath and fountain.
Mouse warming party
Want to deliver your mouse, rat, hamster, gerbil or guinea pig a squeaky good time? If so, your first order of business should be the acquisition of exercise running wheels.
Make sure each hamster has a mini-party hat and all guinea pigs have a seat at the tiny table. Provide an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables (based on the dietary needs and safety guidelines of your particular rodent).
Set up a rodent fun run where rats and friends can play hide and seek. Place bare paper towel and toilet paper rolls, plastic balls and small, safe toys in an enclosed area. Wikihow.com has a DIY schematic for rats that’s fairly easy to make.
Remember to keep same species together and maintain a careful eye on all partygoers. Not all tiny furballs will get along.
Is your cat, bird, hamster, horse or hound expecting? Delight family and friends when new litters make their way into the world. Once new mothers have had time to rest and adjust, invite a small group for a quiet viewing of the new arrivals.
Prior to the emergence of your pet’s offspring, send out baby shower invitations and don’t forget to “register” for toys, snacks and grooming essentials the mother will appreciate for her new brood.
Find your fur-ever companion
Don’t have a pet yet? Consider hosting a pet adoption party. Partner with a local animal rescue, especially one that has a surplus of adoptees.
Print pictures of adoptable pets, write a little bio about each (e.g. This is Barkley, a 5-year-old beagle who loves evening walks and scratches behind his ears) and hang them on a line with clothespins. Provide adoption application sheets on clipboards with any fees and other important details.
While guests ponder which pet to offer a permanent or foster home to, serve them animal-themed foods and drinks — puppuccinos (cappuccinos), meow mix (Chex mix), Goldfish crackers (in a real glass fishbowl) and cheesecake triangles (made to look like mice).