Yardbirds are about as common in southern speech as they are on the Sunday dinner table, so just between us chickens, here are a few sayings regarding our favorite fowl.
If I tell you a chicken dips snuff, you can look under his wing for the can. No matter how outlandish, no matter how fantastic, no matter how outrageous, the southern storyteller will expect his word to be taken as gospel. And when his honesty is challenged, he just might respond with an equally preposterous reason for you to believe him.
She was running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Turtles can actually swim around for a bit after decapitation, but somehow our slow and steady friends just don’t invoke the frantic nature of a chicken running around with its head cut off. Wing-flapping, feather-flinging, blood-slinging hysteria. Let’s face it — chickens, even chickens in mortal distress, are just flat funny.
She was after him like a chicken on a wounded worm. You know her. We all do. She’s got her sights set on Mr. Right, and nothing and nobody will stand in her way. And there’s no way he’ll escape her affections.
He’s like a fox in the hen house. A fox will kill a chicken in a hot minute. Likewise, you should beware of anyone who exhibits such evil intentions.
Rare as hen’s teeth. That’s pretty darn rare. Why? Because birds don’t have teeth.
Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. You anticipate something good happening, but it’s not a done-deal yet! You’d best wait before you go and count on the outcome.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Just as soon as you do, you’ll trip over a dog on your way back up to the house, and every egg will get broken. Don’t put all your hopes/dreams/resources in a singular thing/ideal/place lest disaster strike. Always have a backup plan.
Mad as a wet hen. When chickens lay eggs, they do so with the intention of hatching them into biddies, not handing them over to be your breakfast. So when her nest is full of eggs, a mama chicken goes into brooding mode, and will peck at anyone who tries to bother her eggs. Once she has become “broody,” she will stay that way even if the eggs have been removed and her nest is empty. An old farmer trick to “shock” the chicken out of this broody mood (moody brood?) and encourage her to lay more eggs was to dunk her up to the neck in cold water a few times. Naturally, the chicken (as would I) would get rather furious and upset at this treatment. Hence the saying.