Thursday, January 7, 2016

Chicken Idioms

Sixteen years ago (right after Y2K!), Matt and I were in South Korea teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). I taught a class of kindergartners and another class of middle schoolers. At the end of each class I would teach the middle schoolers an American idiom. If there was any better way to prove to a bunch of Korean kids that we were crazy Americans, I'm not sure what it would be. It was their favorite part of the day. From "raining cats and dogs" to "beat around the bush," there was no surer way to make those kids laugh at the idiosyncrasies of the English language. In truth, I learned a lot about the history of the idioms that I had previously used without a second though.

Since becoming a crazy chicken lady, I've come to realize just how many figures of speech are based on chickens. It seems that each week I discover a new one. Of course, due to my multi-tasking brain, I often forget them quickly. So, I thought I would chronicle them here (or at least the ones I can remember).

  1. "Flew the coop"
    • Keep some chickens cooped up for a few days and then open that door. You'll understand this idiom quickly. They'll come rushing out in no time.
  2. "Cooped Up"
    • Chickens do not like to be stuck in the coop once the sun comes up, and they will let you know in plenty of noisy ways. 
  3. "Cocky"
    • We've come to realize that when it comes to roosters size is the inverse of their perceived power. Tiny, our little Banty rooster, seems to think he is about ten feet tall and proudly struts about as if he isn't smaller than the underside of my muck boot. Cocky indeed
  4. "Home to roost"
    • I remember worrying a bit about getting the chickens to come in at night, but as many a chicken lover will tell you, they'll come home to roost when the sun comes down. I've heard tell of some people training the chickens to come in early, but our ladies aren't having any of that.
  5. "You're chicken"
    • If you've ever seen a group of chickens notice a hawk flying overhead, you'll quickly understand this insult. They'll hightail it back to the coop quicker than you thought chickens could run.
  6. "Hightail it"
    • If a chicken is running at top speed, their head is down, so their tail is up. While hightailing isn't exclusive to chickens, they are definitely one of the animals who run with their tails in the air.
  7. "Pecking Order"
    • When the food is poured out into the feeder, there is no denying that certain ladies get there first and others will just have to wait their turn. The pecking order is so obvious that we can even predict who will be first out the door.
  8. "Nest Egg"
    1. Try removing some eggs from under a broody hen and you'll understand how a nest egg relates to our desires to have something saved back for a rainy day.
  9. "Brooding/Broody"
    1. While not a true idiom, the broody hen is one who is bound and determined to hatch an egg even if the humans disagree. She will fluff up her feathers and nearly growl at you if you try to remove her from her nesting box. She'll still sit right back in he empty box after you've removed the eggs and go without eating our drinking unless you make her. She's quite grumpy and I've often related her to a very hormonal post-term pregnancy lady. Broodiness is not flattering.
  10. "Don't count your chickens before they hatch"
    1. We've not actually hatched any eggs [yet], but from what I hear, you can't count on them all hatching healthy little chicks. 
  11. "Don't put all your eggs in one basket. . ."
    1. Especially if you have a four-year-old who helps ever-so-gently (can you hear the sarcasm?).
  12. "Why did the chicken cross the road?"
    • To prove to the opossums and skunks that it can be done!
    • Joke or idiom? Who knows. I've seen some pretty clever responses, but I firmly believe my chickens cross the road because they think there my be some better bugs to eat in the neighbors' yards. Thankfully the neighbors find our chickens endearing and shoo them back home after a while.
  13. "Ruffle Your Feathers"
    • A mad rooster or a broody hen can show you what ruffled feathers look like.
  14. To be continued. . . 

Catching up. . .

. . . is not going to happen. I used to have this pipe dream that I would someday come back and post about each lovely thing that we've done over the last couple years, and be able to use this blog as our family's digital scrapbook. I'm afraid I've gotten so very far behind, that it won't be possible. 

So, here's to starting 2016 anew, with a little update on what happened over the last couple years.

In August 2014, we moved to a new-to-us (but old) home. It sits on 4.5 acres and back to a small lake/large pond (whichever you prefer). It has a barn, pool (that required quite a bit of repairs) and room for us to grow.

In the Spring of 2015 we got chickens and now we routinely gather eggs and scoop chicken poop. We love it. I'm officially a crazy chicken lady.

Lexi is a fourth grader and Jayvan is in pre-k. They are still the same amazing people.

That's good enough for a quick update. Now I'll try to post more than once a year!