Thank You Harvey Ussery!

If you read Mother Earth News, Countryside, or Backyard Poultry magazines, you’ve probably read an article by Harvey Ussery. In recent years he has become a prolific writer of articles about various homesteading topics.

Now, in the current issue of Backyard Poultry, Mr. Ussery has written a lengthy article all about making a homemade Whizbang Plucker. For those who don’t already know, I developed and published plans for the Whizbang Plucker back in 1999. The machine will slap the feathers off a scalded chicken in about 15 seconds. All you do is turn the device on, drop one or more fatted fowls in the tub, and watch the show. It’s one of those things you have to see to believe. If you’d like to see it for yourself, you can go to and click on the YouTube video links.

I’m appreciative to Harvey for spreading the word about the Whizbang. It’s a fine article and I hope it inspires a lot of people to start raising and processing their own meat birds. America would be a better place if more folks did that. A Whizbang Plucker in every garage. That’s what this country needs! And a freezer full of wholesome, home-raised poultry. Just imagine it....

Well, anyway, Harvey called me as he was writing his article and we had a nice talk. He and his wife live on a few acres of good earth in Virginia. Harvey related to me that he is retired from the Postal Service and now works full time doing what he used to only be able to do part time on weekends and vacations. Which is to say, he works on his homestead to make it more productive, so his family can be more food self-reliant. Now that is my idea of a great retirement plan!

The day we spoke, Harvey was going to give a talk to a local group about our modern, industrial food supply system and the dangers of being dependent on such a system. He refers to the looming food crisis as The Coming Storm. In an essay titled, “Industrial Food and Its Discontents” Mr. Ussery writes:

In the Great Depression of the 1930’s, there was real hunger in the cities. Many people in the country were equally devestated financially, but at least had enough to eat, either because they were used to producing a lot of their own food, or because they had neighbors who could, and with whom they could barter. Now, almost a century later, a serious economic collapse would find vastly more people in cities and suburbs—and many of those still living in rural areas lacking in the skills and accumulated wisdom of farming.

Whatever brings on a major economic dislocation, there can be little doubt that one of the first results experienced by most citizens will be increasing difficulty of ready access to food, whether through lack of abundant fuel to grow and move it from distant sources of supply, or personal financial constriction. Sources of food under one’s own control or that of close neighbors will be far more secure in a time of rapid economic change than that in the supermarket. Furthermore, those who have wisely climbed the necessary learning curves and acquired food-production skills will be far better prepared, both in terms of seeing to their own family’s needs, and of being of service to others who do not have a clue. The time to prepare for an uncertain future is now, and we can make no more useful preparation than learning how to produce more of our own food.

To which I say a hearty, “Amen!”

You can read that article at Harvey’s web site, The Modern Homestead.US. And while you’re there, be sure to check out the whole cornucopia of practical, innovative homesteading information Mr. Ussery has compiled.

One of Harvey’s most memorable articles is about maggot production to feed chickens. I wrote about it awhile back in this essay: FREE Chicken Feed. When I mentioned Harvey’s maggot-making article he told me that people remember the idea because it is kind of disgusting, and remembering it is a good thing because someday they may need it.

He's right. In fact, I actually found my way to a blog the other day where the woman blogger was giving Harvey’s idea a try. I forgot the name of the blog (if it’s your blog and you read this, please post a link for us).

In closing, I’d just like to say once again how appreciative I am of Mr. Ussery for helping to spread the word about the Whizbang Plucker. And I encourage you to check out his web site at the link above. It is an inspiring and useful resource for those of us who see and understand the importance of becoming more independent of the Industrial Providers.


Kathi said...

I think that might have been me - I now have a maggot-growing bucket in my chicken coop and am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the maggots. :-)
Joyfully, Kathi

Troy said...

Speaking of which, I finished plucker construction a few weeks ago and my wife and I took on 22 of our heavies. I'm quite impressed to say the least. Once we got in our groove working 3 chickens at a time at various stages in "the process," it averaged 8 minutes from coop to cooler. Now to take on the 150 more throughout the summer. Thx again Herrick and well done!

Anonymous said...

Crazy question here but does anyone know of a breed of chicken/foul that can stand southern heat and is...fairly quiet? see pit bulls are allowed in my neighborhood but chickens, not so much.

Rebel without a chicken.

vdeal said...

I was suprised to see a reference to Harvey Ussery here and then it all seemed to come together. I first read one of Harvey's articles in Countryside Magazine and quickly found his website and was intrigued. Somehow along the way I found Herrick's blog and went "wow" this is great. Then over the the Homesteading Today forums, Joel Salatin's work and the books of Gene Logsdon (which I've had for 2 decades) and it seems that we're all running in the same circles and feeding and learning from each other. This is the beauty of the Web and I hope we all can continue to grow in our homesteading lifestyles. Thanks Herrick.