This has been an amazing four days. Summer temperatures slid back into our region. Everywhere I wander there are critters basking in the sunshine.
The chickens are all hunting for bugs in the leaf litter.
The ducks have made their official move into the main paddocks. So they too have been exploring the woods.
It is quite likely you’d find a hen on her own – totally unaware of anything but the possibility of food.
A lone duck … not so likely. They move as a group. Even though sometimes they move in all different directions at once. And then they comically correct themselves and yet end up AGAIN all heading different ways.
Until one duck takes charge – usually Baxter – and gives the team direction. Our ducks quack and chortle and whistle A LOT! When the hens get quacking it sounds like they are laughing at a raucous stand up comic.
While all this is going on I am very aware that May and Dottie are up in the goat run – watching ‘from afar’. TOMORROW it is my goal to begin their training again. I have purchased two e-collars. They have three settings: sound, vibration, shock. I’ve been studying up on how to properly use them to encourage learning of behaviours that require some negative reinforcement. I don’t plan to use the ‘shock’ setting at all. I need to strengthen their willingness to back off from using their bravado around the donkeys (AND the birds).
Clicker training has worked very well to open communication between us. They know a number of commands that make our routines a go. However, I have not been able to figure out how to use ‘reward’ to STOP their aggressive behaviours. May has lots of food aggression behaviours. Poor Dottie is often the brunt of her butts when she is protecting HER share. And if she was out around Rosie and Bella when it was hay time … she was a bully. A bossy, pushy bully – that wanted EVERY hay pile as her own. Or at least the chance to make certain she was choosing the best one.
Feeding times are definitely OUT with regard to sharing space with the donkeys (or the chickens or ducks). Once everyone has had their first go at mealtime they tend to move on to grazing – or hanging out in the sunshine. That is often when I’m doing chores. I’d like to get us back to where the goats could be out then – with my supervision – to chum around with the flerd. I know they want the run of the full paddocks and hillsides again.
So I’ve found ‘Ty the Dog Guy’ on YouTube and his series of ten videos to help people make good use of e-collars. Wish us luck! I’m also day dreaming about taking May to Obedience School … for dogs … think they’d let a goat in?
Hugs from the Meadow