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Wednesday, October 20, 2010


As a kid I was fascinated by the chickens for their world was fairly complex.

If you only gave them a casually look you might miss many of the nuances that goes into being a chicken. They have gotten a lot of negative press and made fun of, but they have a peculiar life style.

The rooster is an amorous creature and starts early each day trying to arouse the object of his affection. The pursuit of the opposite sex is almost human like, so much so I don’t know who learned what from whom. Anyway in case you didn’t know what all the crowing early in the morning was all about, now you know.

I was warned not to get personal with the chickens when I was little and I tried to follow that advice, but to know them is to love them.

My mother had a Rhode Island Red hen that was her pet. She would bring her into the house for awhile each day, and it thought my mother was her mama. I would chase it through the house and it would flee to the safety of my mother’s lap that was her safe house. That is about as close, as a chicken could get to loving a human.

There was always a little trauma on Sunday dinner when one of the recognizable birds ended up on the dinner table but was mediated by the first bite of that fried chicken, especially with my appetite.

Then one day my uncle got a free box of baby chickens. They were free if you bought some chicken feed. These chickens were white leghorns and they all looked alike. They were better layers but I couldn’t tell one from another. It was like they were all clones. Anyway I felt better because when they graced the dinner table I didn’t know which one they were.

Other that Sunday dinner the great nemesis of the chicken was; the chicken hawk. It seemed the chicken hawk liked chicken as well as I did. My uncle solved this problem by putting up bird boxes so that the martins would nest in during a part of the year. When a hawk showed up those little martins were all over them, and kept the airways clear of those predators.

Having said too much I can only further say; if it wasn’t for the chicken I would be a lesser man for I got my education down on the farm. What has the chicken added to your life, this noble bird has done more for me than the bald eagle has or ever will?

There are many old sayings using the chicken as a vehicle like;

You can get this for chicken feed,

I go to bed with the chickens, and how about chicken one day and feathers the next, or the hen party. And how about these;

Nest egg - to save a little money each week

Scratching out a living - to earn enough to get by in life.

Don't count your chickens before they hatch

Don't put all your eggs in one basket –

Don't spend the egg money before the hen lays the eggs - don't plan on an outcome before
It actually happens.

Feather your nest - saving for the future

Hen house - large number of females living in the same house

Mother hen - very protective

Madder than a wet settin' hen - very angry

Fussing like an old hen – angry

Hen cackle – to laugh

Laid an egg – failed

Feeling like Henny Penny – one person doing all the work

Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow - a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

A hen that struts like a rooster is often invited for dinner - pride goeth before the fall

Scarce as hen's teeth - extremely hard to find

Chick - young girl or teenager

Roosters (get no respect!)

Hen-pecked – nagged

The rooster may crow, but this hen lays the egg!

Rooster games - willing to fight instead of trying to work out a problem.

Flew the coop - gone

Up with the chickens - waking early with the sunrise.

Walking on eggshells- treading softly and trying not to upset someone

Like a chicken with it's head cut off - running around with no direction

Like a head with it's chicken cut off - depressed

Shake a tail feather - get moving

Strutting' your stuff - Showing off

Strutting around like a banty rooster - showing off

Bird brain - senseless

Dumb cluck - senseless

You're chicken! - Being afraid

Sunny side up - cheerful attitude

Hard-boiled - tough attitude

Over easy - soft inside

Chicken out - not follow through

That just flaps my wattles - when something annoys you

Ruffle your feathers - something annoys you

Chicken hearted - Not brave

Chickens have come home to roost - the past is catching up with you

No spring chicken - you're old. Plain and simple.

Like a Banty on a June bug - all over you

Hatch an idea - put a plan into motion

Egg on your face - caught in an untruth

Squawking - putting up a fuss

Rule the Roost - to be the boss

Pecking order - finding your place

Cock of the walk - to be the boss

Do chickens have lips? - dumb question gets a dumb answer

Play Chicken - a stand off, who will give first

Something to crow about - exciting news to tell

Brood over it - to worry; to hover over a problem

Chicken scratch - poor handwriting

Stick your neck out - go to bat for someone else

Stuck in your craw - upset about something and won't verbalize what's going on inside you; carrying a grudge.

Cock sure - to brag

Bad egg - less than honest person; poor moral standards

In a stew - got yourself in trouble

Raise your hackle feathers - visibly annoyed

Cock and bull story - tall tails and elaborate lies

Nesting behavior- preparing a home (especially pregnant women just before a baby is due)

Hen Party – Ladies meeting

Empty nest syndrome - depression and loneliness when children leave home

Made from scratch - made from raw materials by hand

Chicken hawks - politicians who are pro-war but declined to participate themselves

Chicken lights - tractor trailer running lights

Tastes like Chicken - to describe the taste for any number of other meats

Use everything but the crow - use it up and wear it out; made due with what you have.

Hatching rooster eggs - wasting time and/or resources. The rooster makes all the noise, but the hen rules the roost!
What has the chicken added to your life? This noble bird has done more for me than the bald eagle has or ever will do.

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