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.”
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/