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Welcome to TheModernHomestead.US

Harvey’s book now available!


The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: An All-Natural Approach to Raising Chickens and Other Fowl for Home and Market Growers

by Harvey Ussery

Foreword by Joel Salatin

“Here's the ultimate book for those who want to know everything there is to know about raising poultry. And every detail is backed up by the author's own (and often entertaining) experiences. I could not find—in this encyclopedic array of chicken knowhow—one detail that I would quibble with.”
Gene Logsdon, author of Holy Shit and The Contrary Farmer

With information on building soil fertility, replacing purchased feed, and working with poultry in the garden

Order your copy from Chelsea Green Publishing and numerous other sources.

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About TheModernHomestead.US


. . .Nyssa. . .


Your Hosts: Ellen. . .

Unlike our ancestors, many of whom lived on traditional homesteads and small farms, most of us today have the apparent “luxury” of buying all our food in the marketplace. The decision to forego that luxury and work hard to produce more of our own food is a fundamental one. We are thus making not simply one more selection from the Lazy Susan of available food choices, but choosing a way of life, a new direction.

This site is dedicated to the skills and philosophy for more self-reliant living. Whether you have access to fifty acres or only a patio pot, you have the opportunity to produce more of your own food for yourself and your family, to enter more fully into the yearly cycle, and to know your place in the web of life.


. . .Titmouse

Harvey’s Upcoming Presentations

  • June 6 & 7, Warrenton, Virginia:

    The Livestock Conservancy (Formerly American Livestock Breeds Conservancy), in cooperation with Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Farmer Veteran Coalition, will host a two-day workshop, From Service to Stewardship. The workshop’s intent is to “help transform today’s veterans into tomorrow’s farmers.” Friday June 6 will feature workshops on poultry (my own presentation) and other livestock, with emphasis on use of heritage breeds in small market operations. On Saturday June 7, participants may choose to tour one of three local farms. Preference is being given to veterans, but others may register as well.

  • June 14, Montpelier, Virginia:

    The Soil and Water Conservation District for Hanover and Caroline counties will sponsor a “Back to the Farm Workshop” on small-market poultry operations. I will present the featured talk from 9:00 to 11:00 in the Montpelier Community Center, after which participants will tour a local small farm that produces pastured broilers for market. Cost for the workshop is $10 per person and includes brunch and a complimentary copy of my book The Small-Scale Poultry Flock (some deal—retail price is $39.95!). Registration is required and will be capped at 40 participants. Register online or call the Hanover-Caroline SWCD office at (804) 537-5225, Ext. 102.

  • July 25-26, near Lancaster, Pennsylvania:

    I will give two presentations at a two-day event titled “Family Day on the Farm”. Though this gathering targets the local Amish community, all are welcome to attend. The event opens Friday evening, July 25, with offerings by vendors (I will have copies of my book to sell) and a keynote address. Choose among a number of presentations on Saturday, July 26. As soon as the flyer for this event is available, I will update this notice with additional details.

    My two presentations will be:

    • The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: An All-Natural Approach to Raising Chickens and Other Fowl for Home and Market Growers (Morning) My signature presentation on holistic poultry husbandry in the sustainable homestead. Appropriate for beginners and more experienced flocksters alike.

    • Strategies for Soil Care (Afternoon) An exploration of some of the options for improving soil texture, fertility, and organic matter content. I will discuss approaches to composting in addition to Sir Albert Howard’s classic compost heap; the importance of cover cropping and the range of options for their use; and the role of livestock and especially poultry in the soil improvement program.

  • September 12-13, Charlottesville, Virginia (Monticello):

    The annual Heritage Harvest Festival, sponsored at Thomas Jefferson’s estate, Monticello, by Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, just gets better and better each year—lots of vendors and dozens of interesting speakers and topics. Copies of my book The Small-Scale Poultry Flock (Chelsea Green, 2011) will be on sale, with several book signings on the schedule.

    I will give three presentations:

    • The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: An All-Natural Approach to Raising Chickens and Other Fowl for Home and Market Growers My signature presentation on holistic poultry husbandry in the sustainable homestead. Appropriate for beginners and more experienced flocksters alike.

    • The Sustainable Home Flock A discussion of three foundations of a more holistic homestead flock independent of outside purchases: (1) Breed choice, with a discussion of my flock of Icelandic chickens as my ideal homestead breed. (2) Feeding as much as possible from home resources. (3) Breeding our own improved stock using techniques that maximize genetic diversity and avoid inbreeding depression.

    • Trash to Treasure: Bioconversion of Organic “Wastes” into Resources We will look at some fascinating examples of “trash to treasure,” such as Growing Power’s turning 10,000 tons of food residuals a year in the Milwaukee/Chicago area into soil fertility for their greenhouses; or Vermont Compost’s use of flocks of hundreds of layers to work compost while feeding from the heaps and producing thousands of dozens of eggs as an additional income stream—entirely without purchased feeds. Bioconversion of organic wastes goes far beyond Sir Albert Howard’s classic compost heap, and this talk will explore some of the possibilities at the home and farm scale.

New on the Site

  • November 20, 2013: I have added three new pages to the Poultry: Predators section:

    • “Getting along with Predators” is a good overview of predator issues. It starts with an appreciation of the crucial role predators play in a balanced, healthy ecology, and argues that wisely supporting their good work while protecting our poultry from attack comes down to: The best offense is a good defense. This article discusses management for deterrence (housing and ranging the flock) and the nature and modus operandi of potential predators.

    • “The Usual Suspects” is a brief discussion of the more common predators and the signs they typically leave behind following an attack. “Reading the kill” helps identify the predator involved.

    • Protecting the flock is much more a matter of paying attention, learning about our local predators, and common sense than about buying solutions to predator problems. A few available options might be useful in your context, however—“Purchased Aids for Predator Defense” discusses three of them.

  • October 24, 2013: With the arrival of fall, it’s time to think about the special needs of the poultry flock in the coming winter. “Getting the Flock Ready for Winter” considers the special needs of the winter flock regarding housing, watering, feeding, and a winter yard. It discusses as well culling in preparation for winter and dealing with the reduction of egg production.

  • October 24, 2013: I have updated the list of my coming presentations. At present, I am greatly reducing my travel and presentation schedule, but I have agreed to make two presentations at the annual conference of the Virginia Association for Biological Farming in Richmond, Virginia, January 31 and February 1, 2014.

  • January 29, 2013: I have long wanted to put up some information on fungi, both wild and cultivated, and the new section Fungi as Allies in the Homestead and Farm is now available. It opens with three articles: “Fungi in the Homestead and Farm Ecology” sketches the role of fungi in the ecology and ways they have been and can be used as partners. “Cultivating Mushrooms” outlines the basics of cultivating a number of edible and medicinal species. If you want to give that a try, you’ll want to check out “Resources for Working with Fungi”.

  • January 25, 2013: I have added to the Poultry: Feeding section “Feeding the Flock from Home Resources”. I have of course posted other treatments of this subject in the past. This article offers my latest thoughts. While scooping feed out of a bag is easy, there are reasons to seek greater reliance on home-feeding resources.

  • January 25, 2013: Some time ago I put up on the site “Multifunctional Living Fences”—a useful overview of living fences or hedgerows for establishing property boundaries, confining livestock or deterring wild browsers such as deer, serving as windbreaks, and much more—though until now it has not been fitted properly into the navigation system. I have now established a Living Fences section, to which I hope to add in the future. If there are agricultural (as opposed to landscaping) hedgerows in your area, I would love to hear from you, especially if you can share digital photos.

  • April 1, 2012: The Grow It!: Composting section has offered for some time my articles on composting using earthworms and using the black soldier fly, “The Boxwood Vermicomposting System” and “Black Soldier Fly, White Magic”. I have decided to duplicate both articles in the Poultry: Feeding section, to help the reader find these two options for cultivating decomposer species as high-value live feeds for poultry (or pigs or farmed fish). The duplicate (re-titled) articles are “Raising Earthworms to Feed the Flock” and “Cultivating Soldier Grubs to Feed the Flock”