I looked up the word “Pastoral” to make sure I was not misusing it. No, it means, “
My boys seem to look to me to be the top goat. They don’t venture out into their pasture much unless I lead them out there, which seems just crazy to me. We went to a lot of trouble to give them lots of space and good grazing, but they spend their days in the small area between their shed and the barn. When the mosquitoes aren’t too bad, I’ll grab a handful of peanuts and lure Ely out into the field. He quickly discovers the tasty grass and weeds and begins to chow down.
Eddie, however, is a big baby. He stands on the wooden spools watching us forlornly and bleating out that his heart is broken that he has been left alone. I try to call him out to join us, but he stays rooted to his familiar area. One time, he ran and hid in his metal shed and his cries reverberated so that I hurried back to make sure he was okay. I finally got him to come out and join us and although he was nervous about it, even Eddie figured out that this green stuff was pretty tasty. Still, when I begin to move back towards the barn they take off running, afraid to be left behind.
Each evening, I give them fresh food and water and bid them good night. I have to count the chickens to make sure everyone is fenced in before I close their gate. I’ve had trouble with the six babies. They run around the yard in a tight little pack and I have to herd them through the door into the fenced run. If one decides she doesn’t want to go in yet, they all veer off back into the yard and I can’t help but laugh at myself in my futility as I chase them down.
Last night, I remembered that my brother had given me an old shepherd’s crook he’d found somewhere and I had hung on a nail in the barn. I took it out to help with the chicken herding. Wow, that was really effective! It extended my reach so that I did not have to bob and weave to keep them going in the same direction. Their peripheral vision caught movement everywhere behind them and I was able to scare them into the doorway in one try.
My hope is that eventually even the babies will naturally migrate to the coop at evening feeding time and then even up onto the roosting bars with the rest of the flock to sleep. One evening when I went out a bit late to tuck them all in, the adults had already turned in. I quietly scooped up two chicks at a time and placed them onto the roosting bars alongside their aunties. One or two hopped back down and out the door, but I at least gave them the idea. I have not yet figured out if they took the cue and are sleeping inside the coop on their own. They are all out by the time I come see them in the morning.