A nomad that dreams of having her own backyard farm. That sounds a bit strange, right? Well, that’s me. This week a lifelong dream got fulfilled: I got my own hens.
This wasn’t easy to achieve in Singapore, a city where most people live in high-rise flats or polished marble houses. They don’t have a garden, let alone raise their own livestock. Singapore’s kampongs with their free roaming chickens are long gone, and keeping poultry is now only allowed in a confined run. Which brings us to challenge number one: building the run. Obviously, since no one keeps chickens, there are no ready-made coops for sale. DIY is not our strong suit either, so we needed ‘a guy’. As the hens won’t be allowed outside, the run needs to be spacious, and off course predator proof. To my big relief Singapore does not have foxes, but there are plenty of other lurkers on the loom. I don’t know if our monkeys will actually attack chicken, but am pretty sure they will appreciate the eggs. And then there is the big bad python, and other, smaller, sneakier snakes. Not to mention the huge monitor lizards, I am not even sure what those eat.
I won’t tell you the exact quotes that we got initially for getting this built, but they blew me away (ok, I will tell, one asked 8000 dollar)(++) After we finally found someone to do it for a slightly less extravagant number it took time, debate, redoing, and delay by massive rainstorms but finally: It was ready!
Which brings me to challenge number two: getting the chicken. You can’t just buy them at a pet store, nor anywhere else for that matters. Smuggling them in from Malaysia, where they are freely available at any market, did not seem a good plan either. Thanks to the Internet I met a fellow crazy expat who kept chicken and behold, she knew ‘a guy’, who knew a guy who had a chicken farm. After a delay of only a few days (some issues with farm regulations, off course, this is still Singapore) he delivered. Six brown fat hens now range across our run.
Observing the chicken has proved a lot of fun. Not only we like it, the curious monkeys love using the top of the run as a trampoline, and seeing how far their arms can reach in. Birdie, our free ranging cockatiel, does not seem too bothered that the hens have taken over his temporary residence, and he has found a new perch in a branch above. The wild cockerel has gotten exited too, strutting his stuff circling the run. Both parties seem pretty miffed at the barrier between them.
Off course there are challenges with keeping chickens coming from a commercial egg farm. These girls have been living in a small cage all their life. They have not seen a vegetable in their life, and the looks I get when I put some in their feeding dish are very much the same as those my kids would have given me. They sleep under, rather than on the perches we so carefully constructed in the henhouse, just like they have no clue what to do with the fancy nest boxes. They lay where they walk. And laying, these ladies can!