In Reply to: Lick your own calf posted by ESC on February 23, 2009 at 13:16:
: : Lick your own calf; in North Alabama, Sand Mtn, I've heard he/she will have to lick his/her own calf now - indicating the person must clean up the mess/problem they have caused, no one will help them.
: Interesting. I've never heard that expression. In West Virginia (Alabama too -- see http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/1/messages/2626.html ), we said, "You're going to have to lick your calf over," meaning re-do a job." And for anyone who wasn't raised on a farm, it refers to a cow licking her calf.
Cows licking their calves, mother birds cleaning up their infants, and similar activities of mothers of new-born infants do not suggest to me "cleaning up their own messes." But perhaps it does in Alabama. However, taking care of your own problems (assuming a baby is a problem) rather than just waiting for others to do so does make sense.
On the other hand, if it meant licking your own calf but disdaining to do it for other calves, say those left motherless, that would be a cruel and selfish injunction.