Japanese Zen Snow Garden in Iowa and Oatmeal Meatballs

Snow in the winter. It’s a given in Iowa. It can start as early as October and can last until April. Snow days are built into the school calendar and four-wheel drive in your car or truck is a good thing to have.

There were times when my husband had to drive ahead of my car with a tractor to blast a path through snow drifts in order for me to make my 28 mile drive to school. Here’s a photo I took on January 29 of my dear husband digging an unsuspecting driver out of a 4 foot high snow drift that developed in 3 hours in front of our house! Winter can be scary stuff when you live in the middle of nowhere!

When people move out to the country, they might forget that they will need heavy-duty snow moving equipment. Snow on the farm is a lot to contend with. A typical four to five-inch snowfall with blowing winds could result in a four to five-foot drifts of snow to move. And snow is continual. Sometimes it will snow two to three days in a row, resulting in up to ten inches of snow on the ground. There are some days when you can’t leave the farmyard if your life depended on it! The roads will be blocked and the yard is impassable.

Our farmyard is big, the length of a football field! That’s a lot of snow to move! My husband doesn’t like to wear a heavy coat. He prefers to wear a long-sleeved shirt and two sweatshirts, two pairs of heavy long socks, insulated boots, two pairs of cotton gloves, a balaclava and a rabbit fur-lined aviator hat. The hat that is linked isn’t exactly what he has. He got his rabbit aviator hat as a Christmas gift years ago. I really recommend rabbit fur. When the temperature is 30 below, it’s imperative to keep warm!

Japanese Zen Snow Garden

And then he begins his eight-hour snow removal journey. Back and forth, back and forth. With a skid loader. Building snow piles that our children would slide down for hours. Why does he make piles? The air temperature in Iowa during the winter is cold. The snow can stay on the ground for months. A winter’s worth of three feet of accumulation is too much to drive through.

So he pushes it around every time it snows. It is like he’s creating a Japanese Zen Garden. Of snow.

Be Blessed!

Oatmeal and Meatballs

Oatmeal Meatballs Recipe

Here’s a recipe for Oatmeal & Meat Balls. You can add oatmeal to any ground meat or any meat substitute! This one features oatmeal mixed with ground beef. It’s a good thing to add oats to beef. It extends the meat and sneaks in some fiber that unless you tell your family, they won’t know! If there is someone in your family who is a “textural eater”, you can pulse the oatmeal in a blender to make the oats less textural.

Depending on your family’s tastes, you could serve these on a bed of rice, on top of pasta or as part of a meatball sub.

I have another recipe for Porcupine Meat Balls with rice that I will share another time!

Oatmeal Meat Balls

Tools You’ll Need:

  • Wooden spoon
  • Bowl
  • Fry pan or electric skillet
  • Saucepan
  • 9X13 baking dish


  • 1.5# ground beef
  • ¾ C oatmeal
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 ½ t salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 onion diced
  • Flour to roll meatballs in


  • 2 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 T cider vinegar
  • 1 C ketchup
  • ½ C water

Mix the first six ingredients. Make into balls and roll in flour. Brown in a bit of oil. Mix sauce and bring to boil in saucepan. (I’m sure you could boil in the microwave.)

Pour sauce over meatballs and bake in a 350˚ oven for 25 minutes OR simmer in electric skillet 25 minutes at 350˚