Good Rainy Morning,
It’s too wet to go into the field, so I’m reviewing email responses to the meaning of the saying: “A hen doesn’t cackle before she lays the egg.”
Mara, Valerie, Karen and Wendy interpret it to mean: “Don’t boast until you’ve accomplished your objective.” Along that same line, Joanne said, “Don’t brag until you do the deed” and Debra wrote, “Don’t brag about something until you know it’s a sure thing.”
Rich looked at the quote from a slightly different perspective, “Don’t celebrate before the work is done”, as did Sandy: “One shouldn’t brag about their impending wealth if one hopes to keep it.” And, Christine takes it to mean, “The lull before the storm.”
Sometimes we look too deeply into simple things. What bothers me in the saying is the word “cackle”. To me, it is more of a derogatory sound, i.e. The witch cackled, “My pretty one.” Often, I’ll hear the hens on the hill cackling when a red-tail hawk swoops overhead. They make a ruckus and head for shelter. But when it comes to laying eggs, I think hens make more of a contented “clucking” sound.
I’ll end with thoughts from Ruth: “The hen doesn’t celebrate (or brag) until she’s done the job. We know as well not to count our chickens until they’ve hatched. It’s interesting how many of these sayings go back to our farming past.” Ah, the words and world of farming, such a fascinating place. Laurie Lynch