It appears that we may FINALLY have a broody hen. She has been sitting on the nest now since yesterday morning. Ever since I discovered that the hens freaked out when I moved them to a posh and private location, and refused to set any longer, I have not been taking any eggs out from under hens on a nest. I will only collect eggs if there are no hens around. Of course, since then, no one has stayed on a nest longer than about 2 or 3 hours.
Yesterday morning, one particularly bedraggled hen was on a nest. I checked again after lunch, and she was still there. Lo and behold, when I peeped in one more time before bed, she was still there! Typically the chickens all roost at night, they don't stay in the nest boxes. She was still there this morning, and again this afternoon when I really needed to clean out the hen house.
She stayed for several minutes while I shoveled poo, but finally freaked out and left her 8 eggs all alone. I checked again several times after I had finished, and she still wasn't back on the nest. She was off for several hours, I'm sure. Finally this evening, she was back in there.
I checked several chicken forums on line, and it appears that if they are fertile, they could still hatch, even with an extended period of inattention. We'll know for sure in another 20 days, although I could try to "candle" them and look for "veining" next weekend. I have educated myself in this process by watching youtube videos.
Stay tuned, there may be peeps in a couple of weeks!