Kampung life is peaceful, free from the "rat race" in the city.Muthu Sammy s/o Tharumlinga was always busy during the time when he used to become a dairy farmer. He disclosed briefly in Indian, "Like myself, I'm not a fussy man. I'm willing to do any jobs. So i don't have to worry about anything." Rearing cows might be routine as he admitted, everyday being the same. However, it was a profitable trade.
Muthu inherited the dairy farm when his father, Tharumlingam, who started it long before World War 2, passed away. The farm off Jalan Somapah Timor was then taken over by the family consisting of his mother, 3 brothers and 5 sisters. It was necessary to continue the family business which his father had initiated extra income. Muthu explained that in the olden days, when pay was low, he had to rear cows and sell the milk in order to support his family.
To Muthu, being a dairy farmer was just a part-time job. But, gradually, he began to spend more of his time looking after the herd when his father retired. There were about 40 cows in the farm then. Originally, there were only 4 of them. Then, as Tharumlingam's children later got married and moved out, and Muthu himself had his own steady job, the family decided to sell most of their cows. They only kept 7 of them. Muthu, now 40, recalled how the family's daily routin was done:
"In the morning, once we had milked the cows, we had to release them out for feeding. We brought them out around the village to graze them. We stayed cautious to the cows as we did not want them to damage people's properties like the villagers' vegetables farms which were very common during that time in Singapore. We fed the cows with water and wheat flour. Then, after their meals, the cows would rest and sleep. We would milk them again in the afternoon at about 2 or 3 o'clock and after that, we brought them out to graze again, and brought them back at about 6 or 7 o'clock in the evening."
According to Muthu, since 1965 when the animal licensing scheme began to implement, a healthier surrounding was necessary for the cows. Sheds had to be properly built. Cows should be bathed twice daily especially in places like Singapore where we experienced hot and humid weather throughout the year.
The amimals' faeces was left in the open and soon would be taken away by neighbours and villagers who owed vegetable farms as the dry cow dung served as fertilisers for their crops.
Muthu's cows were all Australian mixed breed. He said, "The Australian mixed breeds give more milk."
Milking was done twice a day. If this routine was not completed, Muthu would ask his friend to help him milk the cows, offering S$1.50 per litre of milk he had milked. Then, Muthu would deliver the milk around Changi area as many many Europeans there favour fresh milk.
Muthu gained his knowledge of rearing cows through experience. It helped him to understand and familiarise himself with the animals' behaviour.
According to Muthu, some cows would want to mate 3 months after giving birth. Fierce bulls did not like the presence of people when they mate. They would become angry and might even attack them.
A cow's period of pregnancy is about 10 months, with 1 calf at a time. Muthu thought that cows amke good sales. He said that bigger cows cost about S$1,500 and a big bull could be sold for about S$2,000 depending on it's size. However, they did not weigh the cows. Instead, they just gave rough estimation of the cows' sizes.
Keeping a good dairy farm had become a part of Muthu's life. He did his best to continue what his father had left behind. As days passed by, Muthu admitted that the business gradually brought about some problems.
Maintenance costs had become expensive. The feeding costs a lot and if he changed the type of wheat flour which was used to feed the cows, he would not ge much milk from the cows.
Muthu sees no other alternative, but would have to give his farm to give way to some redevelopment projects...