The fields were green with fresh new growth. Everything was beginning a new year following the harsh winter storms. The smell of fertilizers filled the air as farmers prepared their fields for the new season. The country roads wound around the hills and dales to Secret Meadows a farm that belonged to Mr. Burl Hickman.
The farm itself was hidden well from all passersby. A narrow driveway led off the main road around tall oak trees and around fenced in acres filled with horses and cows. Mr. Hickman had inherited the thirty acre farm from his father. It had been in their family for over a hundred years and the plans were to keep it that way. Crossing a small wooden bridge and around a curve the huge Hickman house could be seen. It was a two story brick house with a double car garage.
The yard around the house was filled with flowers and trees. Beyond the house sat a long building with a tin roof containing all the farm equipment. Odd buildings were scattered here and there. There was a huge barn, a silo reaching high into the sky and a building used to keep smoked meats. To the right was a big lake for the cattle and to the left freshly plowed fields as far as the eye could see.
Secret Meadows was a small community near the town of Marshville in the deep-south. It was the home of all the animals the Hickman’s needed to provide them food and income.
It was also the home of Lilly the white chicken, Belcher the pig, Roscoe the rooster, Albert the goat, Waddles the duck and Percy the cow. The remainder of the animals were roaming the fields or resting in the barn.
Now it happened that on this day Mr. Hickman was getting some new chickens, another rooster and some funny looking birds called guineas. He had purchased these new additions from another farmer who lived further down the road. It was on this day that all the commotion began in the hen house.
“I’ll bet she has been parading her feathers over with those Bennington roosters. They are as wild as boar hogs and their devilish crowing is a total nuisance to everyone around here.” Bertha the Black Jersey hen spouted out as she watched Lilly scratching in the grass.
“We have some fine roosters here. Roscoe takes good care of us all.” Hilda the red hen replied. “I don’t know why anyone would ever stray over in that direction.” Margaret answered.
“She has started laying her eggs now and she’ll be sitting on them for weeks now I suspect.” Dorothy the Rhode Island Red hen added with a cluck and a scratch.
“Did you know one of her eggs is black?” Bertha cackled loudly.
“Are you sure? What is a White Leghorn chicken doing laying a black egg?” Margaret asked as she sat up and extended her neck in astonishment.
“None of us has ever laid a black egg before. I’ll bet it is spoiled or at least a bad omen. Why don’t we sneak over there while she is eating and destroy it. We would actually be doing her a great favor.” Bertha continued to rattle on.
“That is insane Bertha! Just because the shell is black doesn’t mean a monster is living inside it.” Lucy cackled with laughter at Bertha’s wild imagination.
“A black egg means we will most likely have a black chick.” Bertha snorted arrogantly.
“You are a racist chicken!” Dorothy chimed in. “When did you of all people become so racist?” Dorothy flapped her wings protesting Bertha’s open display against colored eggs.
“White chickens are supposed to have white eggs. That is just the law of nature. When you start mixing with all sorts of ungodly species you will end up with a wild breed that no one wants. We are all pure breed animals around here. Mr. Hickman has paid lots of money for us. I don’t want some heathen bird strutting around here that has been with every Dick, Tom and Harry from who knows where.” Bertha squawked loudly.
So it came to be that all the chickens kept a very close eye on Lilly the White Leghorn chicken. Each day Bertha would make up some excuse to visit Lilly just so she could sneak a peek at the black egg. Then she would report back to all the hens in the chicken house.
Weeks went by and Bertha had the entire farm yard in a thither. Albert the goat became more grumpy, Belcher the pig kept a headache everyday, Roscoe the rooster’s pride fell to its lowest point for fear he was no longer the best rooster, Waddles the duck was kept busy passing the gossip around and Percy the cow kept an upset stomach. The entire ordeal had made all the farm animals angry and full of pride. They felt they were of a better class and that Lilly was worse than a common street walker.
At last the eggs began to hatch. Lilly could feel them underneath her. The first one popped open and a cute little white chick wiggled out. A few minutes later two more and then another until all had hatched except the black egg. Lilly cleaned her babies and kept them tucked under her warm feathers. The next day the black egg began to move just a little. Then there was a cracking sound beneath Lilly. It had been exactly 21 days and was time for all the eggs to be hatched.
All the nosey chickens surrounded Lilly’s nest hoping to catch a glimpse of the mystery chicken. Suddenly the egg cracked open and a little fuzzy chick poked out of the shell.
“Oh my goodness it is a white chick but it looks a bit weird!” Bertha gasped.
“Dear me it isn’t like the rest of the chicks.” Dorothy whispered.
“What kind of chick is that?” Margaret interrupted pushing her way to the front.
About this time Mr. Hickman came walking up to the chicken house.
“Well Lilly I see you have hatched all the eggs. They are beautiful and healthy little chicks. Oh this little one must have been the Frizzle egg Mr. Danfield dropped off. We have never had a frizzle chicken before so I was anxious to have one. Lilly you are a fine mother hen to sit patiently on an egg you didn’t lay. I hope I didn’t disturb you too much when I sneaked the black egg under you. She is supposed to have lots of fluffy white feathers. I suppose the color of the egg can really fool a fellow, huh?” He continued as he inspected the chick from head to toe.
All the chickens were busy scratching and pecking in the dirt pretending not to be listening.
“See there Bertha you have had this entire farm yard all out of sorts with your flapping tongue. You need to start minding your own business and stop gossiping.” Belcher the pig squealed.
Albert the goat kicked up his heels and laughed until his sides hurt at Bertha’s red face.
“Old Bertha is a busy body always trying to start some trouble. There is always one person in every crowd whose tongue is far too long. I think we all know that person is YOU Bertha!” Albert laughed kicking dirt in Bertha’s face.
“Maybe YOU should visit the Bennington Roosters.” Waddles the duck quacked.
So it came to be that the black egg was indeed a special egg with a special kind of chick inside. As the months passed Frizzle added grace and elegance to the farmyard with her fluffy feathers. All the other chickens became jealous of her beauty.
Bertha is now waiting for Frizzles eggs to hatch to see if there might be some strange mutant bird inside.
The sun still shines everyday and the rain still falls on the crops at Secret Meadows. Every day Frizzle reminds all the chickens that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop and the cycle of life continues.
Question: How long does it take for eggs to hatch?
Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved