Tuesday 6 September 2016

The hens that came along

When I wrote about our latest house move, I did not fill you in yet on our feathered ladies, obviously, they came with us, and also obviously, that did not go without hiccups. 

Firstly, a general update on the ladies is in order. Yes, ladies, as we have no more gentlemen left in our run. At some point we had three. From our first batch of three chicks, I guess we saw it coming with Ronaldo, but we did not realise that Daisy's courageous, cheeky streak was also caused by testosteron. She became a pretty white rooster. An then Lily, one of our rescue chicks, suddenly got a suspiciously large comb, and when she crowed, we knew she too was, well, a he. I managed to exchange Ronaldo and Daisy for two pullets; our chicken uncle was starting to notice how lucrative the business of selling laying hens to crazy expats was, and he could use two solid guys for breeding. 

Our gorgeous Messi

Poor Lily, who we renamed Messi, with his cripple feet, was a different story. Messi and his sister had been hatched at a local primary, as part of a science program. I am not sure what the teaching objective was, but the kids must have learned that chicks are disposable things, that don't need proper care. They came to us malnourished, and in Messi's case, with several broken toes. We healed them with vitamins, worms, and a lot of TLC. Messi kept falling over initially, but eventually became a healthy big guy, albeit with a permanent limp.  The video shows baby Roos and Messi after they'd been with us a week. 

Initially, we decided he could stay. Yes, his early morning wake-ups were annoying, but he was pretty and we were fond of him. Then, Messi got bossy. He seemed to accept my seniority, but attacked Indah on several occasions, and since the chicken run is a favourite hangout for visiting kids, we could take no risks. Unfortunately there are not many options for a cripple rooster. I will spare you the details, but Roel manned up to do the difficult part, Indah did the plucking, and I cooked the coq au vin. I know many chicken holders might cringe, but as a partial vegetarian I rarely eat chicken, and if I do, I like to know where it came from, and how it was treated. I’m no hypocrite, and I would much rather eat my own rooster, lovingly reared, than one maltreated on an industrial farm. 

In front Fien, Lucy, Sushi and in the back Cherry and Roos
So who moved with us? Veteran Lucy, our now big baby Fien, Messi’s sister Roos, and the two new pullets, Cherry and Sushi. Five in total. 

The old run was broken down, and rebuilt in the new garden. It was not until the gardener pointed at the tree above, a large rain tree, that we saw the dead branch exactly above the run. Within the year, it will likely drop, and squash the run. When the gardener tried to cut it, it turned out there was a massive bees nest right beside. The branch – and the bees – are still there, waiting for our landlord to find a pest control company that is capable of climbing up that high.

The egg stealer
Our troubles were not yet over. The rebuild of the run had been sloppy, as the friendly neighbourhood monitor lizards were quick to notice. One squeezed his three feet long but skinny body through the wire. He did not hurt the hens, but stole all the eggs. After several failed attempts to lizard-proof the run, I thought I finally cracked it. To my surprise, we still found broken, eaten, eggs. It seemed our lizard friend had thought the hens a dirty trick! Some plastic, hard eggs, have helped to overcome this nasty habit, most of the time.

Our ladies seem happy enough, and are laying well, apart from youngsters Cherry and Sushi, who will hopefully start soon. With three eggs a day we indulge again in egg-eating feasts, and hope that for now, our hens lives will be less eventful. If only that dead branch cooperates….


  1. Hi
    We have just moved to Singapore and would like to get some hens. Do you have any contacts

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