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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


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.


. . . Gussie . . .

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

New on the Site

  • March 30, 2018:

    • Added to the site “Trapnests for Improvement Breeding”, an expanded version of my article “Improve Your Flock with Trapnests,” published in the April/May 2017 issue of Mother Earth News. If you are seriously considering a breeding project with your chicken flock, you really shouldn’t start it without putting in place this most important of all breeder selection tools.

    • The falling-door trapnest, described as a step-by-step construction project in “Making and Using Trap Nests”, is hands-down the best design I’ve encountered. However, my use of it over the years has demonstrated a need for a modification to make it even better. If you’re considering making trapnests, be sure to review that article, and especially the information box I have added at its end “Improving This Trapnest Design.”

  • January 17, 2017:

    • Added to the site “Breeding Our Own Chickens”, the original version of my article “Heritage Chicken Breeding: Why Not to Rely on Chicken Hatcheries,” published in the April/May 2016 issue of Mother Earth News. As I begin my fifth year breeding all my own chicken stock, I hope other independence-minded homesteaders and small farmers will seriously consider a breed-improvement project of their own.

  • October 1, 2016: I have added a major article and revised two existing pages on the site:

  • December 31, 2015: I have made the following additions to the site:

    • I gave a talk on cover crops at New Country Organic’s facilities, September 19, 2015. NCO recorded the talk, which is now available as an hour-and-a-half video.

    • I have posted what amounts to a brief indictment of the broiler industry, originally an exchange in the Letters section of Backyard Poultry. “Feed the world” is a noble sentiment, but as an industry mantra is little more than a cover for some recklessly irresponsible practices.

    • “Eating Meat: The Moral Question” offers some thoughts on this often thorny issue.

    • And last, there is a bit more “eye candy” at the bottom of the page about my Icelandic Chickens. I have now completed three full years breeding this fascinating landrace, and am pleased to show you just how colorful and beautiful they can be!

  • January 6, 2015: I have added three pages in the Poultry section:

    • “Icelandic Chickens: My Ideal Homestead Flock” is my original version of the article of the same title published in the October/November 2104 issue of Mother Earth News, as far as I know the first introduction to this colorful and fascinating landrace in this country, possibly in English. I have completed my second full year keeping “Icies” as my homestead breed of choice, and breeding all my own stock. I love these birds and am pleased to present them to you here.

    • As said above, I am breeding all my own stock in my Icelandics flock. “Using the Clan Mating System: Low-Input Breeding for Maximum Genetic Diversity in Small Flocks” is an introduction, using both text and graphics, to a mating system that has much to offer in a homestead or small farm breeding project. Please don’t assume that poultry breeding is just for “the big boys” of the poultry industry. Like gardeners who save their own seed, we can if we breed conscientiously improve the quality of our flocks and better adapt them to our specific conditions with each generation.

    • Essential to breeding our own stock is keeping good records, and that requires proper identification of breeders. “Flock Identification: Toe Punching and Numbered Bandettes” is a brief overview, again using both text and graphics, of application in actual practice of the two (out of many) ID options I am using in my breeding program.