Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

VIDEO: How to Handle Broody Hens — from Harvey Ussery

We’re busily promoting and selling our new book The Small-Scale Poultry Flock by Harvey Ussery, so I wanted to do a little research on the prevalence of the household flock. Imagine my surprise when I found this Slate article from two years ago, debunking the “bogus trend” of burgeoning backyard chicken ownership.

“In all of God’s sweet aviary there exists no bird more diabolical and ruthless than the egg-laying chicken. Despite the darkness of this clucking beast’s heart, our nation’s press has gone on a rampage insisting that more and more citizens everywhere in the United States are choosing to board and feed these creatures in their urban and suburban backyards so they can harvest the eggs. It’s a trend, the press claims. But we know better, don’t we? To begin with, keeping chickens is a filthy, time-consuming, and expensive way to keep the pantry filled with eggs.”

Say what?!

Apart from the fact that the writer clearly has a personal problem with our feathered friends, he was a bit premature in denouncing this so called bogus trend. If my own participation is any indication, two years ago I had owned zero chickens, but today I can proudly say I have raised (okay, and slaughtered) almost 200. That’s a huge percentage increase in my own completely unscientific opinion.

When my partner and I had to move across the country, we split our last flock into two groups, thereby starting two separate households off on their own hen-raising adventures. So if you count the first household I helped initiate into the poultry world (by bringing home a pair of wee chicks from a trip to the feed store…without asking permission first, teehee), and my own, that’s four households that started raising birds in the past two years. And although my own household is currently (sadly) hen-less, the folks we gave our birds to benefit daily from their clucky hijinks and fresh eggs each day.

On that note, I wanted to share with you the first in a series of videos from the incredibly wise and gentle Harvey Ussery. This one talks about broody hens — hens with a natural, strong mothering instinct — and some ideas of how to deal with them. Enjoy!

Also, check out Harvey’s own website here:  http://themodernhomestead.us/


How to Make Biochar

Doing some spring cleaning around your property? By making biochar from brush and other hard-to-compost organic material, you can improve soil—it enhances nutrient availability and also enables soil to retain nutrients longer. This excerpt from The New Farmer’s Almanac, Volume 3, explains how to get started. To make biochar right in your garden, start by […] Read More

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Pass the Walnut Syrup?

Everyone knows and loves maple syrup, and in some states (like Chelsea Green’s home state of Vermont), it’s big business. However, it’s a widespread myth that maples are the only trees that can be tapped to produce sap, according to Michael Farrell, sugarmaker and director of Cornell University’s Uihlein Forest. Sap can also be collected […] Read More

4 Books for Growing Food in Winter

Don’t let cold weather stop you from producing and enjoying your own food. For many, the coming of winter simply means cultivation moves indoors or under cover. Small farmers, homesteaders, home gardeners, and commercial growers can extend the growing season with techniques outlined in these essential books. There’s no need for urbanites and small-space dwellers […] Read More

A Simple Way to Grow Fresh Greens Indoors This Winter

Just because the temperatures have started to drop doesn’t mean you have to live without fresh greens until Spring. Author and gardener Peter Burke’s innovative method of growing soil sprouts indoors can help you grow nutrient-dense greens all year long at a fraction of the cost of buying at market. Burke’s book, Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening, is […] Read More
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