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/


Ask the Expert: Andrew Mefferd

Before writing The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook: Organic Vegetable Production Using Protected Culture, Andrew Mefferd spent seven years in the research department at Johnny’s Selected Seeds, traveling around the world to consult with researchers and farmers on the best practices in greenhouse growing. Andrew has graciously agreed to offer up his expertise to our […] Read More

Top 10 favorite goat facts (with gifs)

New this month from author Gianaclis Caldwell, Holistic Goat Care is the essential resource on caring for your herd. Goats have provided humankind with essential products for centuries; indeed, they bear the noble distinction of being the first domesticated farm animal. From providing milk and meat for sustenance and fiber and hides for clothing and shelter […] Read More

New French edition of The Resilient Farm and Homestead available

Great news for French-speaking fans of Ben Falk’s The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach. The French language translation is now available from Imagine Un Colibri, from French booksellers, and on Amazon.fr. Falk’s book is a technical manual that details the strategies he and his team have developed for […] Read More

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

Generosity as Activism, and Other Homesteading Principles to Live By

“Like everyone I know, we occasionally find ourselves faced with a decision to which there is no obvious answer,” says Ben Hewitt, coauthor of The Nourishing Homestead. “Do we borrow money to build a bigger barn, or do we keep getting by with what we have? Do we spend our meager savings on trees and […] Read More
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