Sayings from Appalachia

Mad as an Old Wet Hen

Mad as an old wet hen? How bout mad as an old broody hen! Polly is setting a clutch of six eggs and boy is she in an ill mood. We don’t mind her antics too much because we hope to have some baby chicks in a few weeks. Keep your fingers crossed that they’ll all be hens.


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  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    May 19, 2018 at 2:45 am

    Did she go broody on her own or did you entice her with some of those egg gourds…LOL I used to love watching my granny put those porcelain eggs under a hen…or even stealing her eggs and replacing with porcelain eggs…
    I love to hear a hen talk to her chicks…and how with just the slightest little soft cluck will cause the chicks to run into her feathers and hide until all’s clear…lol or sometimes dancing around with her wings out trying to hide the chicks with those fluffed up ruffled feathers when one reaches to get one baby chick to hold…lol
    Thanks Tipper,
    Watch for the Red Tailed or Red shouldered Hawks….they picked our hens off one by one…

    • Reply
      May 22, 2018 at 3:38 pm

      B.Ruth-thank you for the comments! She went broody on her own 🙂

  • Reply
    May 18, 2018 at 10:35 pm

    Let us know when they show up.

  • Reply
    May 18, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    Good luck! What fun having your own hen-raised chicks. That’s the best way, and after I saw a hen raise her own I didn’t want to buy day-olds and raise them anymore, so my little flock has gotten smaller and smaller. I wish my Dark Golden Hen and Captain Hastings the rooster would settle down and raise a clutch of chicks. Right now they are the only birds I have left and they seem to have chosen Early Retirement!

  • Reply
    Papaw Ammons
    May 18, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    Mommy and Grammaw knew how to gather eggs from setting hens. They would wear a long sleeved flannel shirt that was way too big for them. They would pull their hands back up into the sleeve until they got their hand under the hen then slide it out and grab the eggs. The hen would peck at the flannel all it wanted but rarely got a good bite on their arms. A flogging hen can’t do much damage except with their beak. I used to just stand and let them flog me til they got tired. After a few unproductive floggings the hens would give up and surrender their eggs peacefully.
    We raised thousands of chickens. We had to be able to handle plenty of ornery hens. And roosters too!

  • Reply
    May 18, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    Just a thought : a wet hen is unreasonably mad – “flying off the handle” mad. A settin’ hen or a broody hen is defensive, protective mad – “mad as an old mama bear” mad.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    May 18, 2018 at 10:59 am

    Daddy didn’t have our chickens put up and he nailed dynamite boxes to the back of the house. He was smart to put them under a window, that way we could see the eggs and get them without going outside. It was of the night that we had problems. When our little feist dogs first heard a chicken disturbed on the roost, off the front porch they’d come and just a minute they’d have that boy treed. Me, Harold, or John would go and shake that booger out of the laurels. Our dogs could see in the dark, so that thing hardly ever hit the ground.

    One time a huge blacksnake swallered about a half-grown chicken. After daddy found a flashlite that worked, and you could see the bulge where the Pullet was, he pecked that ole snake in the head with his hoe. But after cutting the snake open to free the pullet, it was too late. That snake was longer than Daddy’s hoehandle. You learn so Much living in the Mountains. …Ken

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    May 18, 2018 at 10:49 am

    Hope it’s baby hens!!

  • Reply
    Dee Parks
    May 18, 2018 at 9:44 am

    Heard that expression while I was growing up. It was my grandmother who had chickens and she would get “mad as a wet hen” if a hawk came around and took some of her baby chickens. I always loved to play with baby chickens and baby ducks but they grew up too fast.

  • Reply
    May 18, 2018 at 9:04 am

    That broody hen will flog anyone who gets too close to her and the eggs. Just like any mother, she starts protecting her babies even before they are born/hatched.

  • Reply
    Papaw Ammons
    May 18, 2018 at 8:58 am

    Don’t you eat chicken too? If they aren’t hens you eat ’em. Young roosters are the best eatin’ ever. Like when like gives you lemons you make lemonade. In this case you make dumplings. Yum! Yum!!

    • Reply
      Papaw Ammons
      May 18, 2018 at 9:00 am

      Yep like gives you lemons and so does life.

  • Reply
    May 18, 2018 at 8:49 am

    I love hearing that, and it brings to mind somebody who is almost comical in their anger when you “ruffle their feathers.” There is not much scarier than a hen when she is settin’ on her eggs. We always just said “that hen is setting.” I learn so much from you, Tipper, because you make me think before my coffee kicks in.

    I may just have to get a bunch of dictionaries! I have the newer experience of driving grandson back and forth to school. We speak a totally different language and often question each other. I used the expression “knock on wood” and had to reach back in the furthest recesses of my pea brain to explain it to this young man. He has to explain some of his music to me, because I just don’t get it at all. I think the knocking on wood may not be unique to Appalachia, so I can’t fathom how I will ever explain to him all the idioms and words that are Appalachian in origin. It should be required reading!

  • Reply
    May 18, 2018 at 8:10 am

    Mama used to say “Cross as an old settin’ hen.” I’ve heard mad as a wet hen before.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    May 18, 2018 at 7:49 am

    Mad as a wet hen takes too much energy. Seeing folks who get that mad makes me tired to watch them. Hope your chicks are hens.

  • Reply
    May 18, 2018 at 6:30 am

    I’ve been down that road before, Yep, can’t be married for almost 37yrs without experiencing some of that.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 18, 2018 at 6:11 am

    Six little baby chicks, I can’t wait to see them!

  • Reply
    May 18, 2018 at 4:46 am

    Mama used that expression! Nice to hear it. Folks here in town don’t understand how mad that is!

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