“Why not fill our yards with food production, from vegetables to pasture to poultry?” asks Joel Salatin (Polyface Farms) in his foreword to this book.
Whether your windows look out on a suburban backyard or acres of field and pastures, universal questions of where our food comes from, how safe it is to eat, how sustainably can it be produced prompt a natural desire to live a more self-reliant life. Many of us yearn to feed our families the healthy fruits of our own labor … to crack that warm, freshly laid egg into a sizzling pan … to savor a soup made with our own veggies and home-grown chicken. And why not? The Small-Scale Poultry Flock is an “all-natural approach to raising chickens and other fowl for home and market growers.” Aimed at an intermediate to advanced level (growers interested in adding poultry and farmers seeking to “close their loop”) it also offers “…a meaty, challenging resource…” for beginners.
Author Ussery, a longtime farmer and proponent of the grow-your-own-food movement, spent decades developing his whole-systems approach to poultry husbandry, part of his commitment to a diverse, integrated perspective on food production. The Small-Scale Poultry Flock, is an outgrowth of his pioneering work on modern homesteading.
Ussery shares his path from “… a flock of chickens on a bare dirt run, fed commercial feeds exclusively…” to flock “liberation (with) happier chickens, (opening) possibilities for partnership with them in all aspects of the homestead or farm.” The book is a guide to taking “full advantage of our chickens’ natural inclinations and talents” by “including poultry as a fully integrated element in any quest for self-reliance.”
Earthy and practical, The Small-Scale Poultry Flock brings the joy of chickens to life, with solid information on working with poultry in the garden, building soil fertilizers, and alternatives for purchased feed. “The time to enlist a poultry flock as partners and mentors is now,” he says, and his book lays out all the details. Ussery talks about why “cheap chicken” isn’t – especially when you consider all the “costs not factored into supermarket price tags” such as food security, environmental issues, and quality.
From eggs to meat birds, basic anatomy to social organization of the flock, from henhouses to mobile shelter designs, “reading the poops” to basic care and feeding, flock management and breeding, plus rich appendices, The Small-Scale Poultry Flock is a comprehensive course that “teaches us what it takes to be sustainable, to create sustainability.”
With family roots in the fertile Red River Valley of North Dakota, Lynn Torrance Redlin has been part of the Cooking Up a Story team for a number of years. An avid gardener and home cook, Redlin is also a voracious reader, and enjoys exploring new information and ideas about our food system.