Gigi Blog » The life and loveliness of Gigi's World

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  • Welcome to the Gigi Blog!

    Blessed to be a mother to half a dozen girls. Wife of an undertaker.
    Photographer. Homeschooler. Daughter of the King. Chicken raiser.
    Lover of Jesus and all things pink and vintage. ♥

{Sweet} as Syrup

 

 

If  the girls and I could wear prairie dresses {we do often!} and make our own cheese from our grass fed cow {in my dreams}, bake our own bread (we do), living a life like the Ingalls family, I do believe we would feel right at home.

 


I know, perhaps, I look at the pioneer era through rose-colored glasses, however, I am also drawn to it for it’s simplicity, down-to-earth-goodness, family ties, unity and God-focused living.

So, automatically, making our own maple syrup would fit right into this type of lifestyle.  At first, I was disheartened to find there were no sugar maples on our property … I have always wanted to tap trees and make our own syrup for many reasons:

 

- the education of the tapping for the girls
-we love anything homemade!
-hopefully save a bit of money as we would not have to purchase syrup (even if we made enough to cover a few months of Sunday morning pancakes) - we love to do anything that remotely resembles the life of Little House on the Prairie:)

However, after a quick search online, my disappointment vanished as we found out you can indeed tap any kind of maple tree – not just sugar maples. In fact, you can tap many different kinds of trees for sap.

 

{image courtesy of Joybilee Farms}

We have quite a few silver maples lining the front of our yard so we were  in ‘business’.

I excitedly called my husband at work ….
“Guess what?!!!!! I am so excited! We can tap our trees!!!!”

He thought I was being a little over-excited at first, but he should know me by now. Tapping our own trees is like an early birthday present for me! I usually do get very excited about these types of things … they are fun and interesting and a wonderful way to learn … hands on and involving the whole family …
… anyways, off we trudged to the local hardware store to pick up a few supplies. We didn’t need much – just spigots and buckets. I already have the big pot I will use when it is time to boil down the sap. And I am hoping we can do it outside with a cozy, fun fire and experience it just like they made syrup many years ago. I think, by this point, even my husband was convinced that this would be a fun project …

 

He tapped the first tree and then had to zip to work so we finished off the trees. It was very simple – I drilled the hole (use the smallest bit possible to cause less damage to the tree), one girl put the spigot in tree, others hung the buckets.

 

Now, I think I will tap my birch and black walnut trees as well.

Tapping trees on the south side is ideal to help the sap flower quicker.  It will take 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. I don’t know how much we will collect but we are going to find out over the next week, as the weather warms up during the day and drops to freezing at night (ideal for maple syrup collecting).

 

 

Here is a great website for information on tapping your own trees …
Have you ever tried to make your own maple syrup? We have friends that have done gone through the whole process and she has graciously answered all my questions … we look forward to seeing how our project ends … hopefully with some delicious maple syrup fresh from our own trees – at least enough to get us through once a week Sunday pancakes.

 

P.S. Our call duck, Libby, has just laid another egg for her clutch – a baker’s dozen so far!

March 9, 2015 - 4:27 pm

Heather - Wow! Way to go! That is an amazing endeavor and you’ve taken up the challenge. Can’t wait to see how much you get! Precious pioneer clothing :)

March 9, 2015 - 10:13 am

Cassy - Just go to my property I think we have maples

Duck Tales {continued}

Much to our delight, our little Libby, our tiny call duck who has now taken up residence in our mudroom, has now laid eleven eggs in her clutch!

And yes, she is now sitting on them now, taking breaks only for food and water … her mate, Tod, tends to her carefully and sits right beside her day after day. It’s rather sweet to watch.

 

 

We are counting down the days and watching to see what happens. We hope, with 11 chances, that quite a few eggs produce ducklings.

They should hatch just in time for Easter – perfect timing! How fun this will be for the girls!
Next week, I will try to post the homeschool unit study I am putting together to learn more about our little friends … they bring us much joy in the middle of March.

 

March 9, 2015 - 3:07 pm

claire - How wonderful!

Our First {Possible} Clutch

Although I enjoy the calm, the slower schedule and the beautiful stillness of the winter months, it has felt like a long winter for our animals.

Our chickens need a better coop (I guess it will be a spring project for us) … our ducks are doing fine (although  one guy had frostbite on his caruncle -{ yes, we know what that means…. oh, the things you learn with animals and nature!)} … and our little call ducks are so small (full grown) that they keep getting dirty… well, let’s just say, they are at the bottom of the coop … where all the poop falls … and with 30 chickens above them, it’s not very fun. The male duck was also limping, therefore we wanted to ensure he was okay. We brought the two smallest, Tod and Libby, in to see if we could clean them up. After a nice warm bath and some preening, they looked much better.

 

 

Turns out, they preferred the cozy warmth of inside compared to the bitter cold winds of outside. I don’t blame them – the temperatures have plunged to a chilly -40C lately. So after some discussion, the girls set up the duck couple’s “Florida” home in our mudroom. We were also hoping this would encourage them to lay some eggs and possibly have babies! These are our most expensive ducks so if they have babies, the girls can sell them at the chicken and duck swap in the spring (Oh yes, such a thing exists).

 

So every day, we watched. We checked their pen to see if maybe we would find an egg. We were unsure if our hopes were too high – but yesterday, we were rewarded!

 

A sweet tiny little egg (about the size of a golf ball) ….

 

 

The girls were so excited, jumping up and down as they peeked into the pen …  we were so proud of Libby – her first egg …

 

The next day, she laid another egg … and then one more today!

 

That makes three in her little clutch – we are unsure if she will lay more (but we’re hoping) … we have read that she will probably not sit on her eggs until she’s done laying. So far, she’s not really sitting on the eggs all the time. We have been looking up how to candle eggs, how to tell if the embryo is developing, what to look for to prove it is growing … Lacey, my 11 year old, was the first to spot the air sac.

 

This is exactly the kind of learning experience I desired for my children when we first decided to move out of town and into the country. Real hands-on, true life learning experiences are so delightful for the children … seeing new life form and helping nurture animals is a great way to teach children responsibility …

{How does one tell a duck from a drake? The drake always has a curled tail feather.
“Look for the curl  – the opposite duck is the girl!”

We are really hoping something happens with these eggs – we know there is a chance that they won’t all make it to hatching day. If are few ducklings make it, then the girls will have the opportunity to sell their new ducks at the chicken and duck show in the spring … a little side business for them to earn some money …

In the meantime, we are hoping that Tod and Libby will soon become proud parents of a few, cut fluffy ducklings!

Spring is coming …

 

 

 

March 9, 2015 - 4:33 pm

Heather - Oh my goodness! Such fabulous photos! Love their pale yellow feathers. So much excitement around your home with the new farm life!

February 24, 2015 - 9:41 pm

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - Cute .. hope an egg hatches :) Love the waddling duck picture … would make a great canvas! xo

February 24, 2015 - 6:35 pm

Katrina - AHHH!!! I instantly thought of Jemima Puddle Duck :)

Be Careful {little eyes what you see}

“Be careful little eyes what you see,
Oh, be careful little eyes what you see,
For the Father up above is looking down in love,
So be careful little eyes what you see.”

As parents, we need to guide and guard what our children’s read, watch on t.v. (if you have t.v.) or see through the internet. We cannot sit back and let the world guide our children’s eyes. It saddens me to see little children’s minds soaking up the ways of the world through best-selling books or the most popular movies of the day.

When I asked one friend, who has young boys to raise and is very careful as to what they read or watch for movies, how she judges which movies are appropriate for her sons or not, her husband quoted back this Scripture:

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.
Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Philippians 4:8

 

How very true and wise for Christian parents!

We, as parents, must be on our guard … as sometimes, the world can be so easily packaged as something attractive. It takes us years before we realize we have slowly let the un-pure seep into our homes – and our children’s hearts and minds.  It can be safely suggested that most mainstream media, books, movies are not going to line up with this Scripture. Of course, we also need to be guarding what we watch, see, or read as adults, as well …

 

 

I recently heard this on a radio program, comparing the top three authors of 21st century to the top three books of 18th century. It is clear to see  how far our standards have fallen.

 21st Century best selling authors:

E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey
Stephanie Meyers’ The Twilight Series
J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter
Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games

18th Century best selling authors:

John Bunyan, who wrote Pilgrim Progress
Jonathan Edwards, Freedom of the Will
John Foxe,   The Foxe’s Book of Martyrs
Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe

 

There are so many wonderful books for children and families to read together – and they do not have anything to do with casting spells, terrible manners and disrespect or vampires and zombies. They offer character traits to be sought after, adventures that are clean and fun, stories of families going through trials together and staying together, children learning about the Great Earth around them, discovering God’s nature …

Here are a few of our favorite to add to the last list:

My Side of the Mountain
Indian in the Cupboard
Misty of Chincoteague
Anne of Green Gables
Missionary Stories with the Millers
Pippi Longstockings
Gentle Ben
Because of Win-Dixie
Around the World in 90 Days
All of a Kind Family
Dr. Doolittle
Swiss Family Robinson
Charlotte’s Web
Mary Poppins
Red Sails to Capri
Little Women
Sarah, Plain and Tall
The Little House on the Prairie series
Robinson Crusoe
The Sugar Creek Gang

I’ve recently gone through our book stash and movie collection and tossed some items that no longer lined up with Scriptures, using Philippians 4:8 as a guideline.
I remember my parents doing the same thing as a child … and now, I am thankful and completely grateful.
Hopefully, one day my children will feel the same way.

 

 

 

{Ten}

Happy 10 months to our chubbalicious little {big} baby, Lavender …

God is so good to have blessed our family with 18.5 lb. Lavender Kate Delight  – I’m so grateful!

What we love about having our sweet sixth baby in our family:

… When her little sisters say her name, it sounds like “La-dder”…

.

.. She’s sooo chubby and rolly polly – we’ve never had a marshmallow baby till now – and it sure is cute!

… The way she laughs and tries to dance when we sing “Johnny Appleseed” for our dinner prayer …

… Her sweet cuddles at night with me {She’s not sleeping the night yet but I don’t mind} …

… her toothless smile {no teeth yet but I’m sure they are coming soon!} …

I cannot imagine our life without her. Just like each and every child He has given us, the Lord knew exactly what our family needed when He sent her to us.

I’m so glad I have been chosen to be her mother!