Willow Bark Farm

  (Grand Tower, Illinois)
Farming In Southern Illinois
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Vegetables As A Healthy Food Choice

During the cold winter days, I long to be working out in my vegetable gardens. It is the first part of February and I have my section of the early vegetable garden planned out and prepared for planting.

February 14th - Valentine's Day is when I will plant my lettuce seed. Years ago my husband's grandmother Iva Jane told me the best time to plant lettuce in our area is Valentine's Day. She was born and raised on a farm in rural Southern Illinois. She said even if the snow is on the ground it is ok to sprinkle the seed on top of the snow, lightly tamp it down. The snow is a blanket for the tiny seed and as the weather warms the cold loving seed will germinate and quickly produce tasty and nutritious lettuce. Planting lettuce early will help to keep the lettuce from turning bitter as it reaches maturity.

We all remember our mother's saying "eat your vegetables they are good for you." My mother loved vegetables and introduced them to us at a very early age. Studies show that she was right.

Vegetables are a great choice when it comes to food. They are low in fat, high in fiber and packed full of vitamins -minerals. They can be eaten raw, lightly steamed, or added to your favorite recipe. Any way that you choose to have your veggies they are a healthy choice, instead of eating processed and fast foods.

Most vegetables are so easy to prepare and to serve healthy meals right in your own kitchen. It is very cost effective to prepare your favorite dishes at home, instead of dining out at expensive restaurants.

My daughter Amanda loves to cook and is always preparing healthy foods for our family using fresh vegetables. Our whole family enjoys eating Oriental and Thai foods. We all are very lucky to have such wonderful cooks in our family.

Last night Amanda cooked a delicious dinner for us. I have included a photo to show you Amanda's creation. Making a choice to pick fresh vegetables will help you to a path to a healthier lifestyle.

The menu is as follows.

Miso Soup

Amanda's Veggie Roll

Sesame Ginger & Cilantro Salad

Steamed Asparagus & Avocado Slices



The Big Snow

Many people in the Midwest braced themselves for the winter storms that were due to pass through our area in the last twenty-four hours. The weatherman was predicting between 5 and 12 inches of snow to blow in with the front. By early this morning in our little part of the world, six inches of powdery snow blanketed the landscape. Though in places the drifts were two to three foot deep. Talk about a winter wonderland.

Our small farm is in a very rural area. So our family as well as many other Southern Illinois farm families do our best to prepare for upcoming winter storms. Our small farm is about 20 miles from the nearest big town that has grocery and hardware stores. Having the needed supplies to survive a big winter storm is important. At times during big snow storms it is not unusual to be snowed in for three or four days. To be without electricity for days.

There is plenty to do and many supplies to stock up on. Food and water are essential necessities. The common foods such as bread and milk disappear quickly from the store shelves. In times like these I am thankful that we grow much of our own food. We home can, dry and freeze fruits and vegetables during the hot summer days. They are a welcome delight during hard times and cold weather. There is something to be said for growing a garden that supplies food and nourishment. Our fresh farm eggs are quite tasty for breakfast on cold winter mornings. Toast with peach preserves from our peach trees are a sweet treat.

Other supplies that we try to stock up on are candles, bottled water, matches, batteries, flash lights, rock salt, blankets, charcoal and snow shovels. The snow shovels are put to good use to clear the paths to the barn, the walkways and the driveway.

When a winter storm is approaching we prepare for our animals. Our chickens and turkeys must have a warm bed of golden straw to keep them warm when the cold winds blow. Plenty of food and water to keep them well nourished to withstand frigid cold temperatures.

It is not unusual for a large pot of chili or homemade soup to be our dinner fare on cold winter evenings. Comfort food to warm the body and soothe the soul.

Snow ice cream is a family favorite. The sweet and cold dessert is something we all enjoy.

Though there is plenty of work to prepare for a big snow, we also enjoy and take time out to play. Building snowmen and making snow angels. No snow day would be complete without dressing up warm and going out to the levee and sliding down in our tray sled. The wind bites at our noses and face but it is so much fun to enjoy this family time together. Then to come inside and have a nice cup of hot chocolate.

Yes, snow days on the farm are to be remembered and ones we take pleasure in.

You can view a few of todays big snow photos at this web link. http://www.mississippimoonnaturals.com/Big-Snow-1.html
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