Gingi Freeman of Visalia, a goat owner who has butted heads with city officials, is circulating a petition for a proposed ballot initiative to allow any “family household” to keep up to six chickens and four miniature goats.
If the married mother of two and her supporters gather enough signatures for the proposed Family Food Freedom Act, the initiative would be placed on the city ballot next year.
They have until Jan. 17 to gather signatures and turn them in to officials.
15 percentThe percentage of Visalia’s 46,982 voters needed to sign a ballot initiative that would require a special election in June 2016.
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If 15 percent of the city’s 46,982 voters sign the ballot initiative proposal, the issue of backyard chickens and goats would be placed on the June 2016 ballot as a special election. If 10 percent sign, the proposal would go on the ballot in November 2016 at the next regular city election.
The momentum is in her direction, Freeman said.
“The reception that we are getting in the community is very inspiring,” she said. Because of all the news coverage the issue has received, most people already know about it, she said.
A brief history: Freeman, 30, purchased a couple of miniature Nigerian goats and put them in her backyard. A medical issue prevents her from producing breast milk, so she uses goat’s milk to make her own organic baby formula.
But a neighbor complained about the goats, and the city ordered Freeman to remove them. Goats are only allowed in rural residential and agricultural zones.
Freeman complained to the City Council to no avail.
Weeks later, the issue of whether to allow backyard chickens in Visalia came before the council, which voted 3-2 against allowing them in regular residential zones.
Freeman and her Urban Farmers for Food Freedom supporters gathered signatures on a petition, obtained a ballot title and summary from the city attorney and have started circulating their proposed ballot initiative.
To date, no organized opposition has emerged.
TO THE RESCUE: While working at my desk in downtown Visalia last week, I got a call from home that a bird was flying around inside the house.
Hmmm, I thought, so that’s why I had to vacuum feathers that morning.
I drove home and found a mourning dove missing most of its tail feathers. The cat must have caught the poor bird and brought it in.
He (or she) was perched on a rafter, so I gently swatted a broom at it, and it flapped its way into a bathroom. Using a box, I trapped the bird – alive.
The next day, Critter Creek Wildlife Station in Squaw Valley put me in touch with bird volunteer Renee Spillman of Visalia.
I took the box to Renee’s home, where she already has two finches, a Eurasian dove and a few other small birds in various stages of rehabilitation.
Renee gently removed the newcomer from the box, forced some antibiotic fluid into its unwilling beak, located two nasty bite wounds, and put the bird into a cage.
You have such beautiful eyes.
Volunteer Renee Spillman to an injured mourning dove
“Yes, you have such beautiful eyes,” she said softly to the dove.
I left a small donation and returned to work. Renee soon called to say the bird was drinking water and eating.
It will take time for the wounds to heal and the tail feathers to grow back, but there’s hope for a full recovery and that the dove will be released back into the wild.