The speaker was talking about a group of people getting what they deserved based on their actions. It is a conflation of “chickens coming home to roost” (facing the consequences of your actions) and the song “When the swallows come back to Capistrano”. This one reminds me of one of my favorite malaphors that I previously posted and which appears in my book, “He Smokes Like a Fish and other Malaphors”: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0692652205
Alabama State Representative John Rogers, in response to questions about his protests outside a hospital that is about to be closed, said “We’ll be here until the cows come home from Capistrano”. Here’s the link: http://blog.al.com/archiblog/2012/11/why_not_give_rep_john_rogers_w.html
Those swallows (or cows or chickens) from Capistrano sure get around. A big thanks to John Kooser for hearing this one.
The speaker really laid an egg in fumbling these two proverbs, “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” (don’t make any plans on something before it happens) and “chickens come home to roost” (consequences of doing wrong always catch up with the wrongdoer). These fowl phrases seem to get mixed up a lot – see “Never count your eggs before they hatch (July 9, 2012 post) , and “Might the roosters be guarding the henhouse?” (August 2, 2014 post). I was eggcited when Sam Edelmann laid this one on me. Now only if the speaker had added cows coming home…
Ah yes, the mixed up world we live in, particularly we baby boomers. This phrase was written in a letter to the editor of The Daily Progress, a Charlottesville Virginia newspaper (wahoo wah). The writer was discussing how a natural gas pipeline was going to go through her property and that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approves these 99% of the time. The malaphor is a mash up of “the fox guarding the henhouse” (a job assigned to a person who is exploiting it to his own ends) and “the chickens come home to roost” (facing the consequences of one’s own misdeeds). Thanks to Jack Knoll for sending this one in!