A village could have a dozen families each with a small flock of sheep, and each with its own shepherd boy who was there for each of his sheep’s birth.
While each shepherd boy at dawn led his sheep out to feed on the hills, at sundown each would lead his flock back to sleep with the town’s other flocks in an enclosed pen, called a sheepfold. (Often the villages would attach thorny branches to the wall of the sheepfold, preventing robbers coming over the wall to steal sheep.)
Each shepherd boy would take his turn sitting in the doorway to the sheepfold, guarding all the little flocks at night, and opening the gate only to the other shepherd boys he knew.
The scene in the mornings was charming. Each young shepherd would appear at he gate, making his own clicking sound that only his own little flock would recognize. While the other sheep slept on, each of his own would get up, and follow their shepherd boy’s voice out the gate and up to graze in the hills. .
Jesus compared himself to a shepherd who intimately knew all of his sheep, and whose sheep as intimately knew him.