Friday, June 1

Farm Photo 6/1/07: Whitey Gets Her Wish!

Two days after I posted these photos of Whitey The Chicken and announced that she was trying to hatch an unfertilized egg, I wangled a friend (who happens to read my blog) into leaving the craziness at her farm to come work the 91 sheep on mine. Okay, so I may have bribed her with the promise of large quantities of garden bounty and homemade baked goods. Whatever works is what I say.

She pulled up in a shiny red pickup truck and immediately started rummaging around the front seat, announcing that she had brought me some "genuine, certified, bonafide, honest-to-goodness, all natural, farm fresh, super duper, fantastic fertilized eggs for your poor chicken!" Then she triumphantly held out an egg carton, lifting the lid so I could see the gorgeous colored eggs inside. What a wonderful surprise gift.

"Okay, so how many do you think I should give Whitey, two?"

"The whole dozen of course."

"The whole dozen?"

"Well how big is she?"

"Not very."

As we tramped over to the henhouse, my friend explained that the first thing we needed to do was get the unfertilized egg out from underneath Whitey and throw it away because it was probably rotten. I explained that Whitey had recently switched nesting boxes and currently didn't actually have any eggs underneath her. But she was still spending all her time just sitting around as if she did.

Whitey glared at us. My friend, who makes fun of me for kissing my lambs and naming my sheep ("I got over that years ago") started cooing at Whitey in this sweet little voice, telling her how she was going to be so happy, how she would be able to arrange her eggs just the way she wanted them and then settle herself down on top of them. She said some other things that were really funny, but I was too nervous to remember them.

"I think you should be the one to put the eggs under Whitey," I told her. "She pecks. And it hurts."

"She's just a chicken!"

"She's not just a chicken. She's Whitey. She's, um, unique. Do you want gloves?"

"I don't need gloves." And then she had the nerve to laugh at me.

"Don't say I didn't warn you."

Day 1

But I am a wimp, and my friend is not. She carefully wrapped her hand around an egg and gently tucked it under Whitey. Peck!Peck!Peck!

"That's gotta hurt."

"She's just a chicken!" There may have been a little eye-rolling and head shaking, too, but I try not to pay attention to that stuff when I know I'm the cause of it. She tucked a couple more eggs under Whitey. Peck!Peck!Peck!Peck!PECK!

"Oh shoot. I knew I should have brought my camera."

She sighed, stopped tucking, and told me to go get my camera.

"Are you bleeding from all that pecking? Do you need peroxide?"

"Of course I'm not bleeding. She's just a chicken!"

I returned with my camera and attempted to capture the perfect action shot.

"Can you hold your hand there a little longer? I really want to get one of Whitey pecking you." Yes, I actually said that out loud. I still can't believe it.

"So how long does it take for the eggs to hatch?"

"Twenty-one days. Mark your calendar."

"But she's already been sitting in there like a week."

"Doesn't matter. She'll be able to feel the chicks moving inside the eggs, and she'll stay."

Day 7

I know nothing about hatching baby chicks, but apparently Whitey does. She's been faithfully sitting on those eggs all this time, only hopping down every once in a while to load up on food and water and terrorize her two coopmates. For a small chicken, Whitey is looking very big. She has puffed herself up in order to cover all of her eggs.

She spends her days in some sort of a mother-to-be trance that appears to be part zen, part coma. She is still fully alert on some level, though, because any time I put my hand near her she snaps out and tries to peck me.

Whitey broke two of her eggs early on (hey, it happens), so the official count is now ten. This morning, however, I happened to show up while Whitey was having breakfast, and when I counted to make sure there were still ten eggs I kept coming up with eleven. A bright white egg was staring up at me from the middle of the pile--and it was definitely too big to be Whitey's, as she lays itty bitty eggs.

This means either one of the other two hens jumped into Whitey's nesting box instead of one of the three other empty ones and laid an egg when Whitey was off stretching her legs, or Whitey somehow stole an egg out of another nesting box and moved it into hers.

Things have been hectic around here lately, and today was the first chance I've had to look through our copy of Chickens In Your Backyard. We usually order newborn chicks through the mail from a large hatchery, so (and this is pretty embarrassing to admit) I never thought that Whitey would be doing any actual mothering once the eggs hatched. I just figured that the babies would be on their own. But the book informs me that when deciding how many eggs to put under a hen, you must remember that once the chicks hatch they all have to be able to fit under the mother at night because that is where they sleep.

Whitey has been living with us for seven years, and in all that time I must admit that I've never ever thought of her as even remotely being the motherly type. This ought to be interesting. And I don't have much longer to find out.

This is Day 19 of Whitey Watch.

© 2007, the fine feathered foodie farm blog where Farmgirl Susan shares photos & stories of her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres.


  1. So let's have a contest!

    I say .... eight chicks.


  2. Yay!!! Momma hen time! Our hens (only one year old) surprised us last year by being amazing mothers. I even put some stuff up on youtube (search for frolicfilms).

    If you think the pecks BEFORE the eggs hatch were bad, just you wait...

    Best wishes to Momma Whitey!

  3. This will be fun to watch!! We also get all our chicks from the hatchery and we don't even have a rooster so there's no babies being born here.

  4. I had no idea chickens were so ... strange.

  5. I can't wait 'til the BIG Birthday!

  6. Wow congrats to Whitney! I currently have 3 one month old chicks raised by one of my Bantys, and 7 one week olds raised by my Barred Rock. Six of the seven were "adoptees." I just blogged it about it the other day :) I suggest marking the eggs with a pencil and collecting any "extras" as you don't want "half-baked" chicks. Whitney will be fairly busy with the new chicks and if she gets too many eggs you are in danger of losing the whole clutch. A great book to read is Carla Emery's "Encyclopedia of Country Living." It's full of info on raising poultry :)

  7. As I read your post, I found myself getting excited and now I am filled with anticipation. Please do post day 21+!

  8. Oh a fab story, I can't wait to see what happens. Fingers crossed they all hatch out, I'll be checking back in to find out.
    Sara from farmingfriends

  9. Oh what fun for you! I absolutly love having baby chicks around. Please keep us updated.

  10. FG - what a hoot! Go Whitey! Thanks for the maternity unit update - and 91 sheep?? WOW! Good we are having a wet year so plenty of hay. Looking forward to tales of the assorted chicks - and you have the neatest friends don't you?

  11. I can't wait! I'm waiting here for peacock eggs to hatch. There's nothing more fun that watching new farm babies.

  12. You have to name at least 3 of them Jeff. Dammit.

  13. So....first there's a contest to see which day they will actually hatch on? Then there's a contest to see how many hatch? And, of course, there will be a contest to name the chicks - I mean, come on now.....Well, I for one will be checking in everyday, several times a day.

    We're with you Whitey!

  14. How exciting for Whitey (and you)! I can remember incubating eggs in the 6th grade and loving it - and loving the baby chicks that were hatched. I even got to take one home for the weekend.

    Regarding the renegade egg - who woulda thought that chickens (hens) were so sneaky?!

  15. AWESOME!!!! So much happens when I don't check in on Farmgirl Fare for more than a day or two!

    I can't wait to see what happens next with WhiteyWatch. You should trademark that phrase, FG.

  16. How exciting! My grandfather used to have chickens and I loved it when the chicks arrived.

  17. I just read that you have 25 lambs! What do you do with them all? Do you keep them as they become sheep and just add them to the herd? Sell them? I have always wondered what people on farms do with all those cute little babies when they grow up.

  18. So if Friday was day 19, that makes today, Sunday, day 21, right? I can't wait to hear all about it and I wanna see the chick pix! I love this blog.

  19. I haven't checked in recently but I had to stop by today to check on Whitney :) ...

    and that is pretty darn funny about The Eleventh Egg...

  20. Oh this is fun! I can't wait to see how it works out... I'm all intrigued! MORE PICS! MORE PICS!

  21. How exciting! My big black hen has hatched out 1 chick, 7 guinea keets, and is now sitting on 5 turkey eggs. We normally raise the chicks separately, but I think we'll let her raise the turkeys. She's been broody all spring.
    Good luck to you and Whitey!

  22. I did a search for savory pies and found your tomato pesto recipe that looks delish. I stayed for blueberry bars and read your June 1st post on Whitey. What a fun blog. Being a native Californian, I can possibly imagine the space you have on your farm. I'm happy to have found a kindred spirit. I subscribed to your feed and will check back. I would love to make your blueberry bars, and if I do, I'll write a post on my blog:

  23. I have a peacock that laided 4 eggs. then a chicken laid 3 eggs in the same nest. now the chicken eggs have hatched and the mother peacock has left the nest paraiding around the 3 chickens. I understand there is a good week between the birth of a peacock and the birth of the chickens. the peacock eggs seem to be moving. Is there something I can do or should do to help hatch the peacock eggs? rhett

  24. Hi Rhett,
    I love the image of a peacock mom parading around with her three baby chickens!

    As for your unhatched peacock eggs, I'd say it's a very good sign that they're moving around. The only experience I have with hatching eggs was with this batch of Whitey's, but I know that the eggs must be kept warm. They also need to be turned. If it's as hot there as it is here, I'm thinking they're staying warm enough even though nobody's sitting on them. You might try to create a makeshift incubator of some sort--try doing a google search online for help. And check my friend Jade's blog, The Jaded Vegetarian. She successfully hatched out some duck eggs recently despite all the odds being stacked against her.

    Then when they do hatch, I guess you'll have to convince a chicken she needs to raise some baby peacocks. ; )

    Wishing you the best of luck with all your birds!

  25. Wow its been lovely to read your blog, I have always wanted to live on a farm but I have to make do with my four dogs and one geriatric cat, not forgetting my lovely partner Jim. Its just lovely how you name and talk to your animals there is nothing wrong with that.

  26. hi, just thought I'd weigh in on the amount of little ones Whitey might be expecting. seeing as its late in the season, maybe not as many as you'ld expect. lets just say my roosters get a little bit less "jiggy" come fall--and our last batch of babies only a 1/3 hatched out (1 week ago).
    from one farm girl (in Canada)to another,
    jjfarm girl


December 2015 update: Hi! For some reason I can't figure out, Blogger hasn't been letting me leave comments on my own blog (!) for the last several months, so I've been unable to respond to your comments and questions. My apologies for any inconvenience! You're always welcome to email me: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com.

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