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170319 poultry peru (1)

When I read today was World Poultry Day and I was wondering how to honour the humble chicken (yes, poultry includes many other birds but I’m sticking with the chicken), it occurred to me how thoroughly the chicken has become interwoven in our daily lives. The chicken, which was domesticated from the Red junglefowl of South East Asia thousands of years ago, features heavily in famous quotes and proverbs, and in the idioms we use in our everyday language. And then there is the age-old joke opening line, ‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’, and the age-old philosophical question, ‘Which came first the chicken or the egg?’ Here are just a few examples from a very long list:

Famous quotes:
‘A hen is only an egg’s way of making another egg.’ ~ Samuel Butler
‘Business is never so healthy as when, like a chicken, it must do a certain amount of scratching for what it gets.’ ~ Henry Ford
‘Regard it as just as desirable to build a chicken house as to build a cathedral.’ ~ Frank Lloyd Wright

170319 poultry new zealand

Proverbs:
It is better to be the head of a chicken than the rear end of an ox. – Japanese
Curses, like chickens, always come home to roost. – Spanish
Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched. – known in many countries

Idioms:
To chicken out – to decide not to do something, usually out of fear and at the last minute
chicken feed – a small amount of money
To be like a mother hen – to be very protective
To be as scarce as hen’s teeth – to be extremely hard to find
Hen-pecked – nagged
To fly the coop – to leave
To be chicken – to be afraid
To be no spring chicken – to be old

170319 poultry morocco

Dyed chicks in a market in Morocco, a bizarre sight and definitely not recommended or endorsed by me, I assure you!

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