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Old 01-07-2012, 01:38 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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Are wet hens really that angry?

"Madder than a wet hen" is a common enough phrase and I've heard it all my life. But do hens really get upset when damp? Can any farmer folk attest to the ire produced by moistening egg-layers? Do fowl really turn foul when befouled?
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Old 01-07-2012, 02:01 PM
UFC Is Sux UFC Is Sux is offline
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As much time as they spend preening and arranging their feathers just so, I can't imagine that any hen would be thrilled about getting deluged. But the way I always interpreted this saying is that hens do look bedraggled and morose when they get wet, and somehow that got misinterpreted to their having an angry appearance.
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Old 01-07-2012, 03:58 PM
Renee Renee is offline
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Meh. Mine prefer dry days, but not enough to stay in their coop when it's raining out, unless it's really coming down. If it's just lightly raining, they go about their scratching and pecking in the yard as usual.
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Old 01-07-2012, 04:02 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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I'm sure they're not nearly as happy as a clam.
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Old 01-07-2012, 04:05 PM
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I'm sure they're not nearly as happy as a clam.
I think that goes without saying. Clams have much better waterproofing than hens.
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Old 01-07-2012, 06:05 PM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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I know mine get pretty attitudinal when wet. Grumpy for sure, never tried doing an anger assessment on one...
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Old 01-07-2012, 06:31 PM
jz78817 jz78817 is offline
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I'm sure they're not nearly as happy as a clam.
or a pig in shit.
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Old 01-07-2012, 06:39 PM
Miss Violaceous Miss Violaceous is offline
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Maybe the saying originates from a certain technique for breaking a hen of "broodiness" (they want to sit on a clutch of eggs to the exclusion of anything else, and stop laying... can be undesirable) by holding them in a bucket of ice water to lower the body temperature. I have never had to try this, but I can imagine the hen would be pretty cranky by the time you're done.
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Old 01-07-2012, 06:53 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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or a pig in shit.
Or silly as a goose, I'm sure.
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Old 01-07-2012, 09:12 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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Or silly as a goose, I'm sure.
Might as well ask now: are geese so dumb that when it rains, they look upwards and drown?

I have an in-law about whom I often use that expression.

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 01-07-2012 at 09:12 PM.
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Old 01-07-2012, 09:49 PM
Senegoid Senegoid is offline
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I'm sure they're not nearly as happy as a clam.
Is a wet hen madder than a mad hatter?
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Old 01-07-2012, 10:22 PM
Enola Gay Enola Gay is offline
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Perhaps it depends on the hen, but none of mine seem to get mad when they are wet. They will happily peck around in the rain and seem pretty much unfazed by it. On a related note, I have also heard the myth that chickens will drown if they look up when it's raining (something about their being too stupid to tilt their heads back down before water fills their lungs), but I must have Einstein chickens because my will tilt their head up to get a quick drink, then go right back to pecking around in their scratch. I should add that we have quick draining soil so puddles don't form unless the rain is very heavy. They could of course walk over to their watering hole, but I guess looking up to drink a few drops is easier.
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Old 01-07-2012, 11:22 PM
Peter Morris Peter Morris is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chefguy View Post
"Madder than a wet hen" is a common enough phrase and I've heard it all my life. But do hens really get upset when damp? Can any farmer folk attest to the ire produced by moistening egg-layers? Do fowl really turn foul when befouled?
I've never heard the phrase used like that. In British usage, calling someone a "wet hen" is to say that they are soppy, non-aggressive, and perhaps a little pathetic. Those who read Terry Pratchett will know that Magrat, the junior witch is often called a wet hen by her elders. Example

This makes sense. A hen is a stupid bird at best, and a wet hen especially pathetic.

Maybe "Madder than a wet hen" is an American attempt at irony.
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Old 01-07-2012, 11:31 PM
SeldomSeen SeldomSeen is offline
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Originally Posted by Leo Bloom View Post
Might as well ask now: are geese so dumb that when it rains, they look upwards and drown?

I have an in-law about whom I often use that expression.
Don't know about geese, but have heard anecdotally that turkeys may do that. Having been around a few turkeys, I'd say they're certainly brainless enough to do it....and if they don't it's probably just because it hasn't occurred to them yet. Dumbest fowl in the universe, but they are good eating.
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Old 01-08-2012, 12:16 AM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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Originally Posted by Enola Gay View Post
....On a related note, I have also heard the myth that chickens will drown if they look up when it's raining (something about their being too stupid to tilt their heads back down before water fills their lungs), but I must have Einstein chickens because my will tilt their head up to get a quick drink, then go right back to pecking around in their scratch. I should add that we have quick draining soil so puddles don't form unless the rain is very heavy. They could of course walk over to their watering hole, but I guess looking up to drink a few drops is easier.
The chicken drinking thing is amazing.

It seems so logical, but offhand I can't think of another animal that does that.

Seldom, you're right, I think it was about turkeys I heard that. Now that I think of it, geese don't seem so dumb at all. Don't ask me how I get that opinion, though.

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 01-08-2012 at 12:17 AM.
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Old 01-08-2012, 12:49 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Originally Posted by SeldomSeen View Post
Don't know about geese, but have heard anecdotally that turkeys may do that. Having been around a few turkeys, I'd say they're certainly brainless enough to do it....and if they don't it's probably just because it hasn't occurred to them yet. Dumbest fowl in the universe, but they are good eating.
The Master speaks:

Are turkeys so stupid they will look up in the sky when it rains and drown?
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Old 01-08-2012, 01:48 AM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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Good cite. Prompts a question: You're a Mod and all that, so are you the Royal Remembrancer of SD? Or are you the only one who bothers to use the indexes?

Also, I'd like to comment on that column (even while dreading deathly bolts of lightning from the Master): there's not a single damn cite in it.

Shouldn't what is usually required of the ganders apply to the Goose? (Serendipitous metaphor...).

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 01-08-2012 at 01:49 AM.
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Old 01-08-2012, 01:49 AM
BeaMyra BeaMyra is offline
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Hens don't seem to be happy when wet, but cats are still a LOT and I mean a LOT madder when they get wet
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Old 01-08-2012, 11:35 AM
SeldomSeen SeldomSeen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo Bloom View Post
Also, I'd like to comment on that column (even while dreading deathly bolts of lightning from the Master): there's not a single damn cite in it.

Shouldn't what is usually required of the ganders apply to the Goose? (Serendipitous metaphor...).
Ah, but you're speaking here of the master, the source of wisdom....He doan need no steenking cites.
His post is his cite
SS
[running for cover....]
  #20  
Old 01-08-2012, 11:58 AM
Enola Gay Enola Gay is offline
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Originally Posted by Leo Bloom View Post
The chicken drinking thing is amazing.

It seems so logical, but offhand I can't think of another animal that does that.
I've seen backyard lizards drink rain water this way too. And I've read that pelicans drink by holding their mouths open and filling up their beaks with rain.
  #21  
Old 01-08-2012, 01:30 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Good cite. Prompts a question: You're a Mod and all that, so are you the Royal Remembrancer of SD? Or are you the only one who bothers to use the indexes?
I've read most of the columns, so I often recall if Cecil has covered the topic.

Quote:
Also, I'd like to comment on that column (even while dreading deathly bolts of lightning from the Master): there's not a single damn cite in it.

Shouldn't what is usually required of the ganders apply to the Goose? (Serendipitous metaphor...).
That was from 1986, back in the days when the columns were exclusively in newspapers - and free newspapers at that. The columns are popular, rather than scientific accounts, and back in those days Cecil frequently did not cite his sources. That said, Cecil's more recent columns, at least the on-line versions, do include references.
  #22  
Old 01-08-2012, 04:30 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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I've seen backyard lizards drink rain water this way too. And I've read that pelicans drink by holding their mouths open and filling up their beaks with rain.
Cool.
  #23  
Old 01-08-2012, 07:15 PM
conurepete conurepete is offline
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Female parrots are called hens, and baths makes them smug and happy, with lots of preening, posing and happy noises. But they are in a nice warm house with their buddies nearby.
  #24  
Old 01-08-2012, 08:00 PM
cochrane cochrane is offline
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Is a wet hen madder than a mad hatter?
No, not in the same sense. "Mad as a hatter" has come to describe a person who appears to not be in his right mind. In the 18th and 19th century, felt hats were popular, and mercury was used in the production of felt. People who made felt hats were exposed over time to toxic amounts of mercury, which would cause neurological damage and make its victims appear to be demented. It's not the same thing with a drenched chicken. Unless anger causes the hen to become unhinged and begin running madly around the barnyard.
  #25  
Old 01-08-2012, 08:24 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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No, not in the same sense. "Mad as a hatter" has come to describe a person who appears to not be in his right mind. In the 18th and 19th century, felt hats were popular, and mercury was used in the production of felt. People who made felt hats were exposed over time to toxic amounts of mercury, which would cause neurological damage and make its victims appear to be demented. It's not the same thing with a drenched chicken. Unless anger causes the hen to become unhinged and begin running madly around the barnyard.
A wet hen is also mad in a different sense than a March Hare. In the spring, male hares were believed to be driven a bit nuts by mating frenzy.
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Old 01-08-2012, 08:28 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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.... Unless anger causes the hen to become unhinged and begin running madly around the barnyard.
Anger from having its head unhinged from its body, with the same result.
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