Appalachia Sayings from Appalachia

What Do You Say When It Snows?

old woman is losing her feathers


old woman is losing her feathers, old woman is picking her geese phrase It is snowing, esp in large flakes.
1931 Combs Lg Sthn High 1307 The old woman’s a-losin’ her feathers. (Snow is falling.) The old woman’s a-pickin’ her geese. (Snow is falling.) 1952 Brown NC Folklore 1,499 The old woman is picking her geese. (It is snowing.) 1997 Montgomery Coll. old woman is picking her geese (known to nine consultants).

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


I found the saying about the old woman losing her feathers in the dictionary, but I’ve never heard anyone say it. What do I say when it’s snowing? I say YEAH WHOO HOOO YIPPEE WOOOO HOOOOO!

If you can’t tell I love snow! I’ve always loved it.

When I was growing up if there was any mention of snow I got so excited Granny and Pap probably wanted to smack me. I’d wake up early and run to the kitchen to turn the porch light on and see if it really did snow.

Since our county isn’t set up to deal with a lot of snow the schools always close when it snows here. A day off school was certainly part of the appeal of snow for me, actually it still is. But there’s more than that.

I love the way snow blankets everything and no matter which way I look-it looks like a Christmas card. I love the way it makes the inside of the house seem cozier as we sit by the fire and sip hot chocolate. I love sledding with the girls. I love eating snow cream and reading a book by the heater.

All day I’ve been jumping up and down wishing for a big snow while other folks were wishing for 70 degree weather and shorts. I know everyone doesn’t love snow like I do. Pap never did care for it, probably because he still had to get out and go to work even if it did snow. And I know if I was like you folks up north who had snow all winter long I’d most likely get my fill of the white stuff…maybe!

It was coming down pretty good for a little while earlier today, but so far we only have a small skiff of snow. So while I’m sitting here typing I’m also hoping the old woman will lose her feathers tonight and I will wake up in a winter wonderland.


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  • Reply
    March 20, 2022 at 12:15 pm

    I’m listening to old radio shows like I love to do and heard on an episode of “quiet please” “the time of the big snow” 1949 the saying of the old woman is picking her geese. I was curious about its use and came upon your blog.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 9, 2017 at 2:02 am

    Late commenting on snow sayings! Other than “there’s a layer of white stuff outside” from my childhood era, right now I can’t think of one other except “Schools Out” from my kids.
    I do remember my Dad referring to a saying similar to Bill’s memory, only difference “Grannies making a new feather tick!”
    It’s still laying around today, Monday! Schools out again here today. Still very cold and waiting on another one, maybe Tuesday!
    Thanks Tipper,
    Stay warm!

  • Reply
    Pam Danner
    January 8, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    Well Tipper, we woke up to about 7 inches of snow! I love it too, just not the ice! The snow is beautiful, and it does seem more cozy inside.

  • Reply
    Maggie Boineau
    January 8, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    I really miss the snow. Growing up in Pennsylvania, we had our share. I’ve lived in SC since the middle 70’s and do love it here, but would love to have more than just a taste of wintry weather. We drove through maybe 5 minutes of the glorious stuff on our way home from duck hunting yesterday. Loved it!

  • Reply
    January 8, 2017 at 5:48 am

    Yea I thought about ya when they said a potential for accumulation, in North East, and central Alabama, Northern Georgia and on into the Carolina’s.. Thankfully, we only got to see a few sleet pellets, and a few flakes of snow, but woke up to 19deg.. My Wife has an Aunt that lives up near the Raleigh , Durham area, they are covered, her Grandkids are having a ball..

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    January 8, 2017 at 4:53 am

    Oh, the silvery, gleaming whiteness of the snow,
    Transforming fields and mountains with its glow;
    Bringing landscape transformation overnight
    When snow turns darkness into sparkling light.

  • Reply
    January 7, 2017 at 11:43 pm

    We had another snow today. Forecast was for “intermittent” but it just kept falling. At evening chores, the goats were covered with snow just from walking between barns. I didn’t get pictures because it was also really really cold. Just heard the town plow go by at 11PM.
    Enjoy your snow!

  • Reply
    January 7, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    We love snow and have had 2 snowfalls this week. It should stick around a while because our daytime highs are in the teens and dropping to zero at night. Cold here!!

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    January 7, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    Now, that is a great picture. You’ve captured the best of Snow’s beauty. Here, above the Tuckaleechee Valley, southeast from Maryville, the scenery is beautiful, too.
    The snow fell to about 2 inches. Post-adolescent boys, those whose only wheels are the machines they’ve cobbled together into 4x4s for throwing mud in the warmer months, seem frustrated today that the snow offers no resistance, no challenge to their testosterone-charged attempts to slip and slide and donut through fields and backroads where the snow only appears deep enough.

  • Reply
    Granny Norma
    January 7, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    We got about 8″ or so and all I have to say about that is: I’m not goin’ out in this mess. Put another log in the stove. The only euphemism we ever used for snow was “Old Man Winter has paid us a visit.” Snow has never been the same for me since the blizzard of ’93 when my 16 year old son had spent the night with a friend on the other side of town. It started snowing and he was trapped. We couldn’t even get the car out of the driveway, even though we shoveled for hours. The day after the snow stopped, he walked all the way home from East Flat Rock to Burge Mountain (near Naples,) stopping halfway at a friend’s house to warm up. There must have been 19 inches on the ground. He survived, thank God. No, I don’t much care for snow anymore.

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    January 7, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    Long ago, when Bro Tom was just a toddler, I remember him leaning over the back of the couch looking out the window, and suddenly, in a hushed voice filled with wonderment, he said, “Nosh!” (pronounced like “nose” with an sh on the end). It was his way of saying snow for a while back then, and though he’s certainly grown now, every once in a while, either he or I will say “Nosh” when it snows. It’s a sweet little memory.
    I remember when we were children, one weatherman on the tv said we were expecting “flow snurries” (instead of snow flurries), and we laughed and laughed. I still chuckle when I think of that.
    Now having grown up in NW PA maybe 10-12 miles south of Lake Erie, with HUGE amounts of lake effect snow hitting that area often, I’d rather see snow only once a year, on Christmas Eve when it seems so magical. Other than that, nope – you can have it. LOL
    Praying everyone’s snug and warm and safe this night.
    Remember the critters outside who aren’t by providing them with some kind of shelter if you can.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Melissa P (Misplaced Southerner)
    January 7, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    These days, what we say is unprintable (LOL). One of these days (if I ever CAN retire), I think I’ll really be happy to see the first – and LAST snows of the season.

  • Reply
    January 7, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    I’m gonna have something GOOD when it gets done. Cindy sent me a receipe yesterday and off I went to Ingles. She called it Kale Chowder, something like a thicker
    soup. It consists of: a couple of taters cut up, cabbage, Kale (all I could find was Organic Baby Kale), salt and pepper to taste, and fry some Polish Keilbasa wheels.
    I added a can of sliced carrots and some Ham pieces left over from Christmas. I also added 2 handfuls of Macaroni, and a can of Chicken Broth. Boy, I can’t wait. Cindy said what I have leftover, that tomorrow it would be better. …Ken

  • Reply
    January 7, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    A blanket of snow covers the dirt and grime of the big city, making it sparkle against the led lights and quieting everything to a whisper. It is a beautiful moment of purity and peacefulness that is so needed. Denver, Colorado has been transformed from ugly urban to sparkling silence… a wonderous , brief miracle! It does not compare to the beauty of the snow covered woods of Appalachia, but it will do until I can get back home!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 7, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Its 1:00 pm here now and the sun is fully out. Puffs of wind are trying to dislodge the buildup on the tree limbs with some success. Trees standing alone are building snow forts around their perimeter while their bases are practically bare. Evergreens growing in clumps are even more dramatic. Tiny dabs of snow in their crowns begin to precipitate downward gathering reinforcements as they cascade toward the forest floor below. Sudden bursts of wind vaporize portions of these avalanches converting them into momentary blizzards.

  • Reply
    harry adams
    January 7, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    I moved from Aiken SC to central Ohio 28 years ago. When I was working, I hated / feared the snow. Now that I am retired, I think it is wonderful. I would shovel snow at the lightest snowfall. I have learned that unless it is over 6″, forget about it. The vehicles can get to the main road in 6″ with no problem.
    It makes the world look great and covers all of the ugliness. The dog and I walk at night and if the moon is shining, it looks like a world of gems. I also found that a heavy snow cleans the forest of dead limbs and crushes most of the rose and blackberry vines. Natures way of housekeeping.
    The Yanks can’t understand why I don’t want to go back where it is warm.

  • Reply
    January 7, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    I got 5″ at t house, swept the porch and steps so the sun could evaporate the remains.
    Finally I found my Jeep and swept off that booger till I couldn’t feel my hands, but I love Snow and the Cold. As soon as I hit the hardtop, I took it out of 4 wheel drive and
    came on to the Shop. In less than a half mile from my house, the snow was only about an inch in places. I was amazed! …Ken

  • Reply
    Barbara N Gantt
    January 7, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    I love the snow. it makes the world look clean, insulates our houses if deep, the kids can be out playing. Today, it hasnt started here in Vt. We are only going to get a few inches. Cape Cod has a blizzard warning. I was hoping for a lot. I remember growing up in Lenoir, it seemed to always snow on my birthday. It is Feb. 17th. That would be the only snow of the winter. My Dad would get a piece of thin wood and we would slide down the hill. I hope you get a deep one. Have fun, Barbara

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    January 7, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    Oh Tipper: I do believe this SNOW SHOW has awakened your audience! I enjoyed their ‘strange’ recollections! My very favorite memory was when Mama would send us out the road to ‘gather snow’ from the fence posts. Then she would make SNOW CREAM for us! It was so delicious – as we enjoyed it by the fireplace and thawed our toes!
    Stay WARM!
    Eva Nell
    p.s. TELL THE GIRLS “THANKS SO MUCH FOR SHARING “FIDDLER of the Mountains” WITH THEIR AUDIENCE! I think folks will like Uncle Johnny’s music from way back – BEFORE BLUEGRASS!

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    January 7, 2017 at 11:40 am

    I always heard that the Old Lady was beating her Feather Tick. My beloved wife is like a young’un when it snows, she loves to watch it fall while I hate it. think it more than likely has something to do with having to work in it while I was with Law Enforcement and EMS, we had to slide up narrow roads to get to folks who needed our help whether we felt like it or not plus we pulled injured and deceased folks from vehicles that had crashed, things like this take the beauty and peacefulness out of the terrible stuff. Give me the 72 degree weather anytime.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 7, 2017 at 11:17 am

    It’s 10:35 here in eastern Burke County. The world outside is painted in shades of white, black and gray. All the conifers are ladened with nature’s original flocking. The sky has lightened a bit with brighter spots hinting at the emergence of the sun. The snowfall rate has slacked off significantly now, but not before an estimated 8-10 inches has deposited itself upon the observable world. As I write, a patch of blue appears and the sky is on longer darker than the earth. The sun is tipping the treetops in brilliant white. Rays of sun are reaching through the branches producing diamonds as they exit. It is indeed a winter wonderland!

  • Reply
    January 7, 2017 at 11:14 am

    We’ve got about 4 inches in Richmond, Va, and as I am typing this, it has tapered off. It’s going to be very cold the next few days, so I will probably have a snow day on Monday. One of the perks of being a teacher.

  • Reply
    Kim Campbell
    January 7, 2017 at 10:57 am

    Me too! I love when it snows! I’s so peaceful and pretty,

  • Reply
    Michael Cass
    January 7, 2017 at 10:29 am

    I’m just like you about snow, Tipper, even though I’m 75 years old. We got nine inches of snow here in Saluda, at a 2200-foot elevation.

  • Reply
    Lula Mae VanWinkle
    January 7, 2017 at 10:24 am

    About 63 years ago my baby sister was between 1 and 2 yrs. old. We had a little white spitz dog named Bimbo. The first time she really recognized snow, when Mom held her up to the window to see outside, she said “Aw, Bimbo’s fedders.” So this has become a saying in my home.

  • Reply
    January 7, 2017 at 10:22 am

    Growing up in the southern tip of Texas, we didn’t see snow; but the one time we did, it was a big event. Most of y’all would probably laugh because it was just a dusting of powder and it only survived landfall in the north shadow of the base of the trees; but my junior year in high school, it was enough for the teachers to let us out of class so we could “experience” “snow”! It must have looked like a bunch of big kids on an Easter Egg hunt!
    During my husband’s military service, I got to live in several northern areas and experience real snow. I agree with Ron, there’s nothing like the inviting quietude of a walk in a depth of snow. It must act as some kind of insulator because even when we lived near major roads or a steel plant, a walk in the quiet of those snowy days was soothing yet invigorating.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    January 7, 2017 at 9:39 am

    Tipper–Hallelujah! It’s now snowing right along and in the last hour things have progressed from a semi-skiff through a dusting and are now approaching fully covered ground. There won’t be enough for snow cream but at least there will be a snow feast for this old eyes.
    In regard to Larry’s comment about lingering snow looking for cover, I’ve often heard this old mountain weather couplet:
    Snow a-hanging on the ground,
    It’s waiting for more to come around.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    January 7, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Daddy told about a time he went in the mines to work and came out to a snow blocked entrance. He said the snow drift must have been three feet deep. That is the kind of snowfall I like. It seems we never had snow days when I was in school like they do now. The bus would always have chains on the tires and take the hills and curves like a four wheeler. The snow we got Thursday came with the coldest weather in several years. It was in single digits the past two mornings. I hate cold weather!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    January 7, 2017 at 9:16 am

    I love snow, we have been in our cabin many times during the winter with the snow gently covering the ground. I think I say It’s snowing, come see! Then we watch until it stops. We do not venture out much though, save that for the little ones when they are with us. The beauty should not be disturbed unless necessary.

  • Reply
    January 7, 2017 at 9:14 am

    Looks like about 4-5 inches here in the foothills. I remember many days when the school bus couldn’t get around to us – sometimes for a week at a time. We rabbit hunted and played Rook.

  • Reply
    marshall reagan
    January 7, 2017 at 8:45 am

    Tipper I like the snow too as long as I have gas in my 4-wheeler so I can ride in it. I don,t sled ride anymore but I still enjoy being out in it.

  • Reply
    larry grifith
    January 7, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Tipper, seems like I heard that as a boy but not any more. The only thing I can think of right off about snow is when the snow just keeps hanging on. We say it’s looking for a cover.

  • Reply
    larry grifith
    January 7, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Tipper, seems like I heard that as a boy but not any more. The only thing I can think of right off about snow is when the snow just keeps hanging on. We say it’s looking for a cover.

  • Reply
    larry grifith
    January 7, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Tipper, seems like I heard that as a boy but not any more. The only thing I can think of right off about snow is when the snow just keeps hanging on. We say it’s looking for a cover.

  • Reply
    larry grifith
    January 7, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Tipper, seems like I heard that as a boy but not any more. The only thing I can think of right off about snow is when the snow just keeps hanging on. We say it’s looking for a cover.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 7, 2017 at 8:26 am

    Never heard the ‘losing feathers’ saying. In fact I don’t recall ever hearing any folk saying about snowfall. I think a good one might be ‘God is covering the flowers’ or something like.
    I like snow but not as much as you I think. I like the Christmas-card look, such as snow on hemlock, white pine or holly. And I like being cozy inside while seeing the snow outside. That will make one grateful for the warm sure enough. I think I posted before but I like to walk in the woods in the winter hush when a heavy snow is falling. Somehow it makes the big outdoors seem cozy, provided one is dressed for it.
    It is plain to see you appreciate the so-called ‘simple things’. Being simple does not mean they are not profound. That is a trait we would each do well to hold and cultivate. I have found that the more we can appteciate the richer our lives are. You have made a lot of priceless memories with your girls.

  • Reply
    January 7, 2017 at 8:17 am

    I’m not crazy about snow, but do like hiking in it on a sunny day after the snowfall is over…..You slipped in an expression I’ve never heard, ” a small skiff”. Seems it has a Scottish derivation meaning to glide or skim. I like the phrase and plan on using it at my next opportunity.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    January 7, 2017 at 8:04 am

    Tipper–I enjoy watching snow fall, although this morning I’m disappointed. What was forecast to be 4 to 6 inches of snow is, at least right now, icy tree limbs and not much more. As a youngster I was enthralled with snow because if there was much Swain County schools had to close. There were too many treacherous roads and little equipment to deal with snow, not to mention that most bus drivers were teenagers (although I’m not sure the last point factored in, since they did perfectly fine jobs). Of course you paid the price later with make-up days on Saturdays or going to class into June.
    Although I think Al Gore is a bloated buffoon (and that’s the nicest thing I have to say about him), I do believe that we had a lot more snow in the mountains in the 1950s when I was growing up than is now the case. But then Daddy loved to tell a story about the Tuckaseigee River freezing so hard one winter (probably in the early 1930s) that a car was driven across the ice. It never got that cold, for an extended period, when I was a boy.
    Anyway, maybe we will still get some snow. If so, I’ll gaze out the window with boy-like wonder.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    January 7, 2017 at 8:01 am

    I haven’t heard those expressions. I like them, though.
    Growing up, I loved snow. We weren’t equipped for it either. So, 3 inches was enough to shut the county down. It was a nice breather. A time to just relax, play, sleep in a little. It was an adjustment moving north. My wife will drive in the worst snow and it has to be cataclysmic to get anything shut down for snow. Now, snow is kinda a pain because I still have to get out in it rather than just enjoy it.
    Secretly, I still get a little excited when they are calling for a big snow.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 7, 2017 at 7:57 am

    She did! The old woman lost her feathers! It’s a winter wonderland all around! It’s beautiful!
    I’m drinking my hot tea and going from window to window to look out in all directions at the beautiful blanket of snow that fell last night. It looks like several inches from here.
    We got it Tip, this is the first snow of this year and the first snow of this winter.

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