Fowl fencing

6-foot fence ordered to save kids from chooks

NINE-YEAR-OLD Freda Rule is known as the Chicken Whisperer.

The Hilton primary student was present when chooky pal Tracey Sketchit hatched two years ago and the pair has such a strong bond Sketchit is happiest when perched on Freda’s shoulder. Freda often pops down with scraps for Sketchit, who lives in the Hilton Harvest Community Garden henhouse next to the school oval.

But the pair is about to be separated by Hilton’s own version of the West Bank Wall. Iron-handed bureaucrats at the WA education department are insisting on a six-foot fence—SIX FEET—around the garden to prevent innocent students being potentially mauled by Sketchit or savaged by a rogue cabbage.

“It’s not good,” Freda says, exhibiting more common-sense at nine than floors of liability-shy shiny bums in East Perth.

Harvest chair Amy Warne is devastated the kids will be cut off from their little slice of nature, and is bemused by bureaucrats’ apparent fear of poultry, vegetables and the potential for law suits.

• Chook whisperer Freda Rule and pal Tracey Sketchit with courageous Harvest Community Garden supporters. Photo by Steve Grant.

• Chook whisperer Freda Rule and pal Tracey Sketchit with courageous Harvest Community Garden supporters. Photo by Steve Grant.

She acknowledges a fence is written into the garden’s lease so she’s making the most of ze orderz by decorating old bicycle wheels to help turn the barrier into an artwork.

The garden volunteers now have to scratch together $8500 for the fence—we can think of many better uses for the money—and have turned to crowdfunding (see http://www.chuffed.org/project/fences-for-flowers).

They launched the drive Monday afternoon, and by Tuesday morning they’d been pledged $1200.

A freebie video done by one of gardening guru Josh Byrne’s film-making mates is helping to draw people to the site.

Willagee Labor MP Peter Tinley, who grew up in Hilton, has thrown his weight behind the effort and is putting the hard word on potential sponsors.

A former SAS commander who’s seen a bit of real life-and-death combat in his time, his eye twitched ominously as he muttered about over-zealous bureaucrats, but stopped short of unleashing the hounds. Or the chooks.

by STEVE GRANT

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