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Families Score With Safety

CHERYL TEVIS 05/21/2013 @ 10:17am Cheryl has been an editor at Successful Farming since 1979.

Kassidy Harpenau is the big sister to four siblings. When it's chore time at her family's Salix, Iowa, farm, the 11-year-old knows she's responsible for making sure their animals and pets are well tended and her siblings stay safe.

When her mom, Deb, showed her a Successful Farming article about a Farm Safety for Just Kids Family Safety Incentive Grant, Kassidy knew it could help to solve a few recurring issues.

"Our cows get out of their pens a lot because my brother, sister, and I have a hard time latching the gate when we feed the calves," she wrote in her grant application. "We either have to crawl over the big fence with our buckets or move a really big gate."

Kassidy was one of 10 recipients of the 2012 grant program, sponsored by Successful Farming magazine. Recipients are awarded up to $250 to make their farms safer or to conduct safety programs in their local communities.

Over the past 18 years, the program has benefited about 200 families and communities.

The Harpenaus knew what was needed to solve their problem. "My mom and I found a gate at the store that I can open and close," Kassidy says. "We also found a latch that I can open and close more easily to fix a broken one on one of the other gates. My dad [Tony] helped me put the gate in and fix the latch. I don't think the cows will get out anymore."

She also used grant funds to buy safety goggles and a Children at Play sign to post in their farm driveway.

Hidden hazards

Near Gibbon, Minnesota, Sherrie Schwecke was concerned about unsafe manure pit covers on their farm.

"They had worn away from the rust on the metal," she says. "The wooden ones have been warped by the weather."

The Schweckes live near a busy road, so Sherrie doesn't allow her 12-year-old or 9-year-old to ride their bikes on the road. "Many times they ride behind the barns on the old cement," she says.

Furthermore, an older son is raising show hogs on the farm. "I was concerned about families coming over to see the hogs and not realizing the pit covers are in need of repair," she says.

A new metal pit cover costs $540, and the Schweckes used their grant funds to replace the worst one of the three covers.

Randall and Erin Debler had concerns about safety, as well. The Alma, Kansas, farmers were worried about the water line to their home.

"Our only water hydrants for mixing herbicides and pesticides were located behind our house, near our chicken coop," Erin says. "Both areas are where our two sons, ages 5 and 3, play and do chores.

"All of our chemicals are applied through a water-based sprayer application system," she explains. "Naturally, the boys are inquisitive and like to be near when Dad mixes chemicals. They ask him questions about what he's doing and why."

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