Well, "pasture" might be a bit of an overstatement, but we did officially move the ladies to the back half of the yard this weekend.
Reason one: I want the ladies to spend the Winter months prepping the garden for next Spring.
Yup, that's right--I'm using my poultry as a slave garden crew. Basically, the idea is that they do just what they do best--scratch and poop--all over the garden, thereby loosening and fertilizing the soil.
And don't think for a minute that they're not loving it. Fresh, loamy garden beds to scratch in. Bugs out the wazoo. The remnants of summer tomatoes and last Spring's cabbage. The only areas that are forbidden to them are a few Fall plants (kale, chard, radishes) and the luffa gourds, which have all been placed in cages for their own protection.
Reason two: We've figured out that Ingrid and Tori need all day access to their nest boxes.
I couldn't be prouder of both of them, actually. With almost no prompting at all, they've decided that their nest box is the place to lay eggs. (Well, Tori did make one in an empty flower pot one day, but only once!) In fact, they're so fixated with laying in the box that they get really distressed if they can't get to it when the need arises. Ingrid is pretty regular about laying once a day, in the morning before they get let outside, but Tori is more of an every-third-afternoon kind of girl. Hence the need for anytime admission to the coop.
Alanis and the ducks are still freeloading. Just by looking at her I can tell that Alanis isn't as mature as the other two chickens, so I'm not worrying about her yet. However, Nice Farmer-Lawyer Guy (who has Kaki the Duck's nine sisters) has been regularly getting duck eggs for a few weeks now, so I'm starting to get a bit put out with my little quackers.