The stores are colored orange and black, spiders and spooky noises follow me around every corner, and children's conversations center around candy and costumes. That can only mean one thing — Halloween! Oct. 31 is right around the corner, and children are getting more excited each day about dressing up and going trick-or-treating.

In addition to being a fun holiday filled with tricks and treats, Halloween can pose some dangers, as well, and not just from the ghosts and goblins. The No. 1 cause of injuries to children on Halloween night is accidental falls from tripping over costumes, curbs or other unseen objects.

Fortunately, trick-or-treating injuries can easily be prevented. Many preventable injuries on Halloween night are due to poor costume choice.

The following tips will help to make sure your child's Halloween costume is safe. Choose a costume made of flame-retardant material, and in order to avoid trips and falls, make sure the costumes are short enough for little feet. It is also a good idea to add reflective tape to a costume or treat bag to increase visibility. Masks should fit securely and allow your child to see well and not hinder visibility. If your child's costume has knives, swords or other props — they should be made of flexible material so that they won't be a hazard if your child happens to trip and fall.

If using face paint, make sure it is nontoxic and hypoallergenic to avoid allergic reactions or face irritation.

In addition to costume safety, it is very important that your children are escorted and watched by a parent, or some other adult, at all times while trick-or-treating.

Children, younger ones especially, should finish up their trick-or-treating before the sun goes down. The older ones should carry a flashlight and stick to well-lit houses in the neighborhood.

Halloween night is a big event, especially for kids! But for parents, it's a time to take extra precautions so that your children remain safe.

The power of cheese

4-H Dairy Cattle Project: Spend a little time with the animals that create all of this goodness. This project is for members wanting to learn more about dairy animals, and caring for and raising one. Members usually start with a heifer or a yearling heifer. Older members may start with a producing cow.

4-H Dairy Goats Project: Did you know goat milk is used for human consumption? In fact, more people in the world drink goat milk than cow milk, although in the U.S. the opposite is true. Dairy goats are a great project for members to learn about agriculture around the world and in your own backyard.

Join 4-H, the club of families who share in teaching kids practical things like pet care, growing gardens or horseback riding, and important values like responsibility. Whether you're in the city or boonies, join 4-H and we'll tackle life's little questions together.

Raising great kids is a challenging task, but it's easier when you have a team of people behind you. 4-H clubs are groups of families that do just that. Through working together, families share knowledge and interests to help kids learn practical skills and important values.

To find out more about our 4-H programs, contact Barbara Addison, 4-H agent, at 272-3670, 501 S. Ninth St., email or visit

Pruning trees and shrubs

One of the most common, yet least understood, aspects of home gardening is pruning. Pruning can be a simple process; the "basics" are few, and once understood, can be mastered quite easily. Proper pruning can turn a tree or shrub into a beautiful plant specimen; improper pruning can result in headaches, heartache and "butchered" plants.

Nearly any tree or shrub must, from time to time, be pruned in order that it will maintain a desired size or shape, or for the removal of dead or diseased branches. The questions that come to the home gardener's mind when it comes time to prune are endless.

Everyone with an interest in learning about pruning is encouraged to attend "Pruning Trees and Shrubs Workshop" at 4 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Finney County Extension Office, 501 S. Ninth St. Actual pruning techniques will be demonstrated outside, so dress appropriately.

Whitey Whitehill, former Finney County Extension agent, and David Coltrain, Finney County Extension agent, will present this workshop.

"The best time to prune trees and shrubs is when they are dormant. Correct pruning of trees and shrubs is just as important for their health and longevity as insect and disease control," Coltrain said. Come learn the basics of pruning and find out how to accomplish this important task. Guidelines will be presented for all types of shrubs, deciduous and coniferous trees and fruit trees if interest is expressed.

The program is free, but please pre-register by calling the Extension office at 272-3670. Kansas State Research and Extension is committed to making its services, activities and programs accessible to all participants. If you have special requirements due to a physical, vision or hearing disability, please contact David Coltrain at 272-3670.

A frequent question is "Why should I prune?" That's a good question, and here are some familiar problems that you can solve by correct pruning:

Maintenance pruning: Removing undesirable growth on a regular basis prevents an expensive pruning job later on. Maintenance includes removing dead or diseased branches, water sprouts, cross branches that are rubbing, narrow V crotches and co-dominant central leaders.

Shaping: Shrubs, trees, roses, etc., may be shaped by pruning to conform to the original idea you had when you planted them.

Light and air: If a plant is too thick in the center, so that little light and air reach the interior, thin it out by selectively pruning some of the interior branches.

New growth: You can bring about new stem growth by heading back, which means pruning so that the outward growth is cut back toward the main stem. Pruning on top will tend to increase the foliage and branches toward the sides.

If you have any questions about pruning trees or shrubs or any other concerns, contact David Coltrain, Finney County Extension agent, at 272-3670 or

Preventing cancer

One in two men and one in three women have a lifetime probability of developing some type of cancer. Experts believe that 20 to 50 percent of all kinds of cancers are influenced by diet. Today is a good time to begin a healthier lifestyle! The following guidelines were presented at the recent Extension program on "Preventing Cancer with your Knife and Fork."

Foods to help prevent cancer:

Eat colorful fruits and vegetables often: dark green, deep red, blue, purple, deep orange and yellow. Fill almost half of your plate at each meal with fruits and vegetables.

Eat more whole grain foods, at least 3 ounces daily for adults. One ounce is about one slice of bread, one cup of breakfast cereal, three cups of popcorn or one-half cup of cooked grains such as oatmeal, whole grain pasta, or brown or wild rice.

Drink more healthful beverages — tea, fat-free milk products and little or no alcohol.

Eat more cooked dry beans and peas (aim for three cups per week) and cold-water fatty fish (consider one or more fish meals per week).

Eat less red meat and fewer cured, smoked, charred or high-fat meats. To reduce cancer risk when grilling meat and fish over an open flame, remove visible fat, marinate meats before cooking, flip meat on the grill frequently and remove any char that forms.

Any questions or concerns, contact LĂ©hisa de Fornoza, Finney County Extension agent, family and consumer sciences agent, at 272-3670 or