Gigi's Blog bio picture
  • Welcome to the Gigi Blog!

    Mother to six Little Women and Two Little Men. Married to a Happy Mortician. Caretaker to goats, chickens and many, MANY bunnies. Photographer. Homeschooler. Lover of Jesus, coffee & tea and all things pink & vintage.

Predator Patrol

A few weeks ago, both Abby and Lovelyn saw something “creepy” (in Lovelyn’s words) around dusk, slinking around the back patio.  They did not see it closely but knew the animal was not a raccoon, squirrel or weasel. It was odd looking … shaggy fur, had a tail of a rat and was big and fat. My father in law suggested it was an opossum — and was he right!

 

Monday morning, the girls were letting the chickens out of the barn at the break of day when Lacey saw something large, fat and grey chasing one our of big roosters. It did not take long to figure out the  creature was an opossum. Lacey yelled for us to come outside … the opossum was chased into a hole without an exit … the girls then blocked the entrance with a board and waited for grandpa to show up with his gun {Daddy was already at work}. We were pretty sure that this was our predator from the summer – the one that ate and killed nearly all our chickens and geese.

Before you read on, please know I do love animals and would not want to hurt an animal without a reason. In this instance, the animal was a predator to our chickens so the death of the predator ensured safety for our hens and geese. Opossums are known to be chicken killers and egg snatchers. 

Thankfully, grandpa came by and was able to kill the opossum for us. I guess it does not matter how long I live in the country – I am still a wimp when it comes to shooting a gun.

 

We were all a little intrigued and grossed out by the animal. It was much larger than we thought …

 

With the opossum out of the way, we figured were were going to be okay with chicken and duck predators for a while yet.
However, just this morning, we opened the back door and lo and behold, there was another opossum on our patio, sitting beside our firewood box. They truly are ugly creatures in person!

We have no exterior lighting around here so you will not find me trying to light the stove early mornings  as it will require fetching wood from a dark patio — I may encounter another opossum, waiting for his breakfast!

P.S. We used this experience as a learning springboard for some school – we have discovered some very interesting facts about opossums since then!

1.  They have the most teeth of all land animals in North America.
2. The females are pregnant for just less than two weeks – a quicker gestation time than rabbits.
3. Baby opossums are tinier than a honey bee when born.
4. Up to 20 babies are born at a time – and they can all fit on a teaspoon!
5. Possums are located in Australia – opossums are our friends in North America.
6. They are the only marsupial in North America.

 

 

November 9, 2017 - 6:45 am

Gigi Wow, I have never heard of such a recipe. Thank you for sharing! We only use real butter. I am saving up for a family cow! 🙂

November 7, 2017 - 7:13 pm

Sue By the way Gigi, here is a recipe i have not yet seen on your blog for spreadable butter. We use only real butter so this recipe really helps stretch our dollar and it is easier for little hands to use as well!
1/2 c. Real butter, softened. (Salted or unsalted)
1/4 c. Milk
1/8 – 1/4 c. Oil (any liquid oil will work. I use canola for the taste).
Beat all ingred. together until light and fluffy, about 3 -5 min. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator. Enjoy ! 😉

November 7, 2017 - 4:33 pm

Gigi Sue, you are so right! I did not even notice, but yes, it is a fact of life. A predator shredded one of our roosters this week so it is on the prowl again. 🙁

November 7, 2017 - 11:06 am

Sue Ha! I noticed that your facebook “likes” are at an all time low for this post lol. You guys did nothing wrong! Animal rights has become extreme craziness. We have to protect ourselves against snakes (rattlers) over in these parts. And yes we do kill them when they are a threat to us.
As always, i so enjoy your beautiful blog! I have been very inspired by your life choices and have gleaned many great tips and recipes from you. Thank you for sharing with us!!

November 3, 2017 - 2:32 pm

Claire I saw one that didn’t make it across the road just yesterday on our way to The Maples. I had no idea there were so many around. But I guess with that short a gestation and that many babies, it makes sense. I’ll keep it in mind when the dog wants to play outside before sunrise!! They look pretty nasty.

November 3, 2017 - 1:34 pm

Rebecca Yuck! Thankfully we don’t have these this far North.

November 3, 2017 - 6:51 am

Katy We had an opossum in our chicken coop once and it scared the daylights out of me! I noticed a lot of our chickens outside in the run huddled together so I wondered what was up. I opened the door to the coop and there was this opossum backed up in a corner hissing at me! It was icky!!! My husband had to kill it ~ I felt really bad to have to do so but, like you said, it would have killed all our chickens!

Glad you were able to find the culprit and save your hens! I hope you and your lovely family have a nice weekend!

November 2, 2017 - 9:11 pm

Regina Oh my they are ugly! And thank you for explaining the difference between an opossum and a possum. I Googled images of both and they are hideous!

A Feather in Your Hat

 

 

 

After taking some or our chickens to be butchered this week, it was time to replenish our laying hens. After scouring ads online, I found someone nearby selling organic laying chickens. They promised they would be laying, something we desperately need for our family. I loaded up the truck with the children to search out the location.

 

[This task sounds so simple typed out, however, just picture: a quick lunch of homemade pizza, eating outside so we didn’t have to wash any dishes or clean the kitchen, counting out the cash for the chickens, giving a quick math lesson in the process, moving car seats in the truck to re-arrange the baby to be closer to a big sister, only to discover the desperate need to clean UNDER the car seats immediately … so add 30 minutes to our exit plan … someone cries because they want to sit somewhere else in the car … a goat escapes … it is captured … we finally get the baby settled into his car seat and slide the big door shut on our truck and drive away …. and we are on our way! Finally! Phew.]

 

Halfway to the location, our little one started crying. He needed to be fed, or so he thought. 😉 I pulled over at the grandparents house, which just happened to be on the way to our location. Grandpa offered to drive (or rather, we begged him to come) and grandma offered to come along and help hold little Loyal.

 

We made it to the farm and were waved into the barnyard, truck and all. We open the large sliding van door and were greeted by a friendly crowd of animals. Up sauntered four goats, curious and friendly, a large dog and a HUGE black Angus cow. All the animals just stood there, in front of our open van door, while all the girls perched on the inside of the truck, trying to see if the cow was a bull or not, wondering if we should exit the vehicle. (Surely – if he was a bull, we were NOT stepping out of the truck!)

 

A whizzing noise was heard and around the corner of the old, beautiful barn, sped an ancient golf cart, loaded with a gorgeous blonde pregnant young woman and her Italian father. With a turkey feather flying from the side of his farm hat, the father and resident farmer jumped off the golf cart and introduced himself, with exuberance, as Mario.

“Follow-a me,” he energetically gestured, in his heavy, wonderful Italian accent.”You see how good our chickens are…”

 

We all followed this enthusiastic, wonderful man, his turkey feather flapping in the wind as he briskly led us to the back of his barn.  He took us inside the barn where loud, very bright and cheery, delightful Italian music is playing in the chicken coop. Our new friend, Mario, grabbed his blue net and whisked around the chicken coop, scooping up chickens with a flick of his wrist … feathers were now flying … Italian music blaring .. turkey feather flapping in the breeze … he grabbed each chicken firmly but gently by the legs and chest and flipped the chicken around, bum end out, and commanded me to “Look!”

“See? The vent-a. She is a-healthy…” and then he tugged, all in the matter of seconds, on the hen’s comb and said, “She good…”

And in he popped hen #1 into our traveling cage.

This crazy, funny, loud scene took place six times in a row … a flick of his wrist, the chicken is caught, we check the vent, tug the comb, and drop her into our cage … next chicken … a flick of his wrist, the chicken is caught, we check the vent, tug the comb, and drop her into our cage… and then suddenly, out escape all the hens, wings flapping and hens squwaking … all the girls were laughing and giggling by this point …

“We a-try-again,” Mario loudly announced, his face set determined, blue chicken net armed and ready ….with a twitch of his mustache, a flick of his wrist, the chicken was caught. We checked the vent, tugged the comb, and dropped her into our cage …

Fifteen minutes later, all vents were checked, all combs were tugged and all hens were safely in the cage, ready for a travel to their new laying home. Whoever said homeschool children need socialization? We meet the most intertesting people in our every day, regular-family adventures!

 

  [I’ve told Abby he needs a turkey feather in his hat for when he works around home. It was such a charming, carefree touch.]

____________________________________

 

P.S. This past weekend, we also planted approximately 800 cloves of garlic, all grown this year in our garden. Lord willing, we will reap a great harvest next year. One never knows what will happen though.

Have you ever read The Pineapple Story? You prepare and hope for the best – give it to God! 

 

 

October 30, 2017 - 5:09 pm

Katy So cute! I loved the part where you explained what “leaving the house” really looks like! 🙂

October 29, 2017 - 2:48 pm

Brenda (Gigi’s Mom) Wow, that sounds like a very fun day!! Remember when we went to Roaa’s barn to see the sheep and her lovely Italian father was there, and he had the Italian music blasting in the barn too! Must be an Italian thing, 🙂 Did you take any pictures? I would love to see them. Glad you got your 6 laying hens …. Mom xoxo

October 28, 2017 - 11:04 pm

Maike What a funny story, it must have been even funnier being in the situation. 😀 And the chicken are again looking very funky. Btw I love that flowery dress with the roses one of your girls is wearing. (Sorry, I just can’t remember who is who.)

With {Foal}

I always adored James Herriot’s stories when I was younger.

I was given one of his books and treasured it. Animals were something I loved easily – in fact, I have many tales from my childhood that involved an animal … sneaking in little toads to play in my dollhouse and then discovering they all hopped away during dinner time … my young mind kept wondering where they went and who would discover them first … or the time I let a stray cat into my room and lied about it, therefore paying the consequences (it was easy for my parents to find out I lied – as there were muddy cat footprints everywhere) … or sitting silently in the field behind my house, writing poetry in the calm around me, only to look up and see a beautiful gentle deer standing just a few feet away …

Yes, I suppose that is why we have so many animals all around us. We are not only raising some for meat and for life – but also for love.

 

I looked outside to the small barnyard today to see Lacey surrounded by her goat, Marigold, her mini horse, Spirit and her turkey, who yes, was spared from slaughter (although he is now as tall as the horse and the goat!). It was a funny sight to behold. This giant, gangly turkey amongst the pretty ladies of the farm …

 

But yes, I do believe Lacey may be taking after her mother’s love for animals.

Yesterday was a special day. It was the day a local veterinarian came to our home to do an ultrasound to see if Spirit, the family mini horse, might be pregnant. She was bred in the summer to a lovely, fiery stallion and since then, we have only hoped and guessed if she was pregnant or not.

 

 

 

It was quite an adventure to have the ultrasound as it was internal. Poor Spirit! But with help from Lacey and myself, pushing her against a sturdy wall, the vet was able to show us a scan …

 

Indeed, Spirit is pregnant! {Yippeeee!!}

 

 

What a fun summer the girls will have next year!

October 21, 2017 - 6:21 pm

Gigi I remember that story – quite funny!!!

October 21, 2017 - 11:31 am

Brenda (Gigi’s Mom) Maybe my love of salamanders and red racer snakes has been passed down to Lucia 🙂 It was quite funny because when Auntie Marie came to stay, she always slept in my room. For awhile she didn’t know they were under the bed but when she found out, I had to move them. LOL

October 21, 2017 - 11:29 am

Brenda (Gigi’s Mom) Oh I am so happy for Lacey & Spirit!!! Yes, what an exciting summer that will be. Is there a due date? That will be a great science lesson for all. The birthing of a foal 🙂
Yes, Gillian, you loved your “pets” and now are passing down that love to your children! How wonderful…..
I too loved animals, LOL You know that already and I am sure you love has been passed to you by myself 🙂
! I kept salamanders and red racer snakes under my bed when I was young. When I was twelve, I wanted cats so I went around the neighbourhood and gathered every cat I could find and brought them back to my small 8×8 bedroom. When my mom opened that door, later that day, she freaked out! I had about 20 cats in my bedroom but was in my feline heaven! Unfortunately I had to return the all, but it was a bit of chaos because I did not remember all their homes. I’m sure they found their way back though. I also had gerbils, hamsters and guinea pigs, even when I was first married. And then I had 2 cats that kept having kittens … soon we had so many cats, that your dad put a stop to it. I scaled back, for the sake of my marriage, LOL not really, but I started to have children instead and that kept me busy. I still love animals and enjoy seeing that at your homestead. Thank you for teaching the children to love animals. xoxo

Getting Along {nicely}

{Our updated family of 10 photograph
L-R: Leia (5), Lucia (9), Gillian & Loyal (2.5 weeks),
Abby & Lavender (3), Lacey (13), Lazarus (1.5) Lyla (11) Lovelyn (7)}

 

 

 

Earlier today, Lucia and Lovelyn picked this lovely small gathering of wild Autumn flowers. I just love the colors…

 

In a recent midwife checkup, my  sweet midwife suggested that a new mother needs six weeks rest … while that is not possible by any stretch of the imagination, I {mostly} do not feel overworked or burdened with our newest baby joining our family. I think it all has to do with everyone helping out as much as possible (although I still have to poke and prod for some chores to be finished). In fact, I don’t think our family would function very smoothly if we were not all a part of the family … we all have our set jobs and items or chores that we are good at accomplishing.

 

On the way home from church, we stopped by a local farm to ask about their small grain silo, something we would like to have for our little farm. When our new friends, owners of the farm,  counted the children, their 7 year old daughter aptly said, “They have two boys and about a hundred girls!!!” The mother just gushed with joy, saying how she wished she had more children and how lovely the girls were …

She carried Lavender around on her hip, smiling and playing with Lavender’s piggy tails and said she wanted to keep her as her third daughter. Before we all piled back into our truck, each child with a chocolate chip cookie in hand, generously offered by the man of the house, the mother asked gently, “Don’t they drive you crazy sometimes?”

Well, yes, we are all human, I told her! Even my husband and I get on each other’s nerves and we are adults and have “social manners”. But in general, I do think we are learning how to get along well with each other – forgiving faults, choosing to be thankful and not selfish, helping others and thinking of others before oneself. We are learning to be last in the line, first to offer help and to “do unto others” as the Bible commands. We are learning how to work hard and not complain, to be a helping hand around the home and to clean up after ourselves as we go.

 

Baby Loyal, as he grows, has been snuggled in the baby wrap against my chest or a willing, loving sister will help hold him if there is a need. I try not to do too many chores that will take me away from holding my little wee baby. Time goes by too quickly. This does not mean I sit around, but rather carry him in my arms as much as possible, holding him as often as I can and kissing his fresh, sweet forehead when he is near me. He is just so precious – I adore sleeping with him in the crook of my arm.

Speaking of caring for little ones … Lacey {13} has been “babysitting” her own little ones – as she hatched a few Polish chicks recently. These chickens really do need extra care, more so than a regular chicken. She successfully hatched seven chicks, but only three have survived so far. If they are too wet, they die. If they get cold, they die. Lacey has been diligent in caring for these little funny chicks and just loves them so. She hopes to have enough hatch in the spring to sell a few at a local chicken swap.

 

 

Aren’t they just the cutest, strangest chicks?

 

On Saturday, I was busy in the kitchen … baking two loaves of whole wheat bread, two loaves of cheese bread, two dozen blueberry muffins, an apple loaf, along with a huge pot of turkey stock … which turned into 8 litres of turkey soup for pressure canning and a turkey pot pie for dinner.  Lucia helped me make a double batch of homemade Bisquick [recipe below] for those busy mornings. Lacey also made a new fresh batch of muffin batter for the week ahead – which is truly so helpful for those days you need to make a healthy snack or treat for tea.

 

This past week, we had our turkeys processed (the kind word for butchered) – how great it was to fill the freezer with healthy, homegrown!  This week, we are having our meat chickens and ducks butchered. We are slowly clearing out the garden as fall gently continues. The next step in canning will be some more apple products: applesauce, apple butter, pie filling and cider. I have managed to make my apple cider vinegar but ran out of apples.

The girls wrapped up four bushels of apples for winter storage but we are quickly eating through those apples, as well.  We are supposed to get some more by the weekend … I look forward to even more apples for us to work with!

Here is the recipe of the bulk Bisquick mix:

 

      • 6 cups all purpose flour
      • 6 cups whole wheat flour
      • 6 tablespoons baking powder
      • 2  tsp salt
      • 2 cup butterBlend the baking powder, salt and flours in large bowl. Using mixer or pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until crumbly mixture occurs. Store tightly covered in fridge or freezer. Makes 16 cups of baking mix.
October 26, 2017 - 7:26 am

Ingrid Love it!Greetings from the Netherlands

October 25, 2017 - 8:57 am

Danessa Stride What a lovely family you have! Can you imagine the sweet grand babies you will have someday:) I know you are early to rise in the mornings, but I’m curious with having so many children, what is your bedtime schedule?

October 22, 2017 - 3:48 pm

Gigi Melanie!! So lovely to hear from you! If you are ever nearby, do stop in! I’d love to see you again!

October 22, 2017 - 10:59 am

Melanie Congrats Gillian!!! I check in on you and your growing family every now and then and I’m so happy to see how much it’s grown since the last time! Congrats on the newest babies! Melanie (from Humber)

October 18, 2017 - 5:03 pm

Katy Your family is absolutely beautiful and I am so glad things are running so smoothly in your home! It is a blessing, truly! 🙂

October 18, 2017 - 8:39 am

Gigi Lucia is close to being taller, yes. 🙂 Sure, I will post the recipe of cheese bread!

October 17, 2017 - 3:26 pm

Brenda (Gigi’s Mom) Beautiful blog (as always) Gillian, your pictures are AMAZING and I so glad to be a recipient of them. 🙂 Lacey’s baby birds are so cute … love their “hats”. xoxo

October 16, 2017 - 10:06 pm

Maike What a beautiful picture of your family. And Lucia looks so tall, is she really taller than Lyla? I love the flower bouquet! And the chicks are indeed looking incredibly funny – I hope the rest of them will make it. I’m interested in the cheese bread – can you share the recipe please? 🙂

October 15, 2017 - 5:38 pm

Sarah The family picture is beautiful! My little daughter saw the picture and said “What pretty girls! I like their dresses.”. Lacey’s chick is adorable! My younger sister had two chickens like that when we were teens. She named them Heathcliff and Cathy after the characters in “Wuthering Heights”. All of your baking sounds wonderful! The perfect way to enjoy the autumnal coziness. : )

Rocking the Baby {and Why Homes Need Rocking Chairs}

“My father was an expert
with rocking chairs.
He said he used to solve all his problems in one.
But you have to know how to rock.

Suppose you’re tired and worried about a problem.
Well, then you rock …like you’re on a ship,
away from everything… …rolling soft and smooth
over the open sea.
Well, then you get to thinking slow and calm.
Get it? That’s the ocean rock.

There’s the horseback rock.
When you can’t sit still,
you gotta be doing something… and you rock very fast.

Then the lazy rock.

When there’s something across the room…
and you’re too lazy to get up
and get it…well, you just rock over and get it.
Only chair in the world you can cross
the room without getting up.”
-Christmas in Connecticut, 1945

 

 

 Yesterday, my sweet aunt visited from British Columbia. While we were getting lunch on the table, she was able to sneak a few minutes of cuddling with Loyal, while rocking in the rocking chair that situated near my kitchen cookstove.

“Good ol’ rocking chairs,” she said. “I just love them!”

Sometimes I forget that homes are often lacking in rocking chairs … as our home is filled with them! We have a minimum of 10 rocking chairs, but I believe there are more than that.  Rocking chairs of all shapes and sizes … for little and big children … for moms and dads and for grandparents, especially! I absolutely love to see someone come into our home and find a rocking chair and begin rocking. I smile inside as it is remarkable to see how relaxed a rocking chair can make people feel.

Something about those good ol’ days … and those good ol’ rockers …

 

[Our Autumn has been so warm –
it has been pleasant to sit out on my favorite spot on the front porch and rock Loyal …
it is pure bliss.
]

 

We didn’t always have rocking chairs in our home. In fact, when I was in my 20s, I gave away a rocking chair that was my mother’s. My parents had given it to me and I thought I did not have a use for it – can you imagine that? My parents still tease me to this day … how could I throw away a sentimental chair? Little did I know I was to have a great need for a rocking chair in our home of many babies!

Now, sitting in a rocker, holding a baby or a child, is one of my favorite past times.

 

Who knew rocking a baby would be so beneficial for you and the baby?! Studies have proven than a baby’s heart rate slows and the baby is more relaxed and soothed while being held and rocked. It is certainly relaxing. It slows you down, gives you that simple moment in time to breathe and relax, look at your baby and memorized every detail of his face. The health benefits, besides soothing your baby and promoting bonding, include enhancing emotional, social, cognitive and motor development.

Do you have a rocking chair in your home? If you don’t, perhaps you should consider finding one – for the simple reason that it is truly good for you! The motions of a rocking chair causes a release of endorphins that elevates your mood and ease tension. Yes, using a rocking chair will help reduce stress!

 

It can even help with pain management:

“Rocking helps prevent pain signals from traveling from the back to the brain. The site also claims that rocking can significantly improve pain from arthritis”, as it states here.

If you have back pain, you should definitely invest in a rocking chair!

“Research shows that the spinal cord can only work in one direction at a time, thus, when the brain is sending motor impulses down the spinal cord to make the legs rock the chair, pain impulses from the back are blocked, and are prevented from reaching the brain which lets the muscles in the lower back relax. ” – source

There has been some studies showing that a rocking chair will help an energetic young child who has trouble focusing on their school work. The rocking motion allows them to still move, but they are able to focus on their lessons a bit easier … perhaps more school rooms should have rocking chairs available for their students.

 

The motion of a rocking chair also helps with healing from knee surgeries. Even airports are using rocking chairs to help their passengers relax between flights. What a great idea!

In a world that rushes by and is loaded with ridiculous amounts of stress and anxiety weighs heavy on the minds of many, I think perhaps it’s time for a rocking chair revival in many our homes.

“So quiet down cobwebs,
Dust, go to sleep,
For I’m rocking my baby
and babies don’t keep.”

 

October 16, 2017 - 6:20 am

Gigi That’s wonderful, Rebecca!

October 16, 2017 - 2:34 am

Rebecca It’s so funny I’m reading this today cause I just bought a fourth rocking chair for my house! I love old fashioned wood rocking chairs — they look so pretty and I love rocking in them while knitting or reading to my girls.

October 15, 2017 - 8:42 pm

Megan newbury Not to worry! When you have time 🙂 ps was it here I saw you made elderberry syrup? I cannot find the berries anywhere and would love to make some also! Any hints where i can buy some homemade or where i can get the berries from?

October 10, 2017 - 10:44 am

Gigi Katy, so wonderful! I agree – porches need rocking chairs!
Megan, check your mail soon – 🙂 I’m so sorry it has been so long!

October 10, 2017 - 10:27 am

Katy Oh I completely agree! I love rocking chairs! I love all the facts you shared about them too! I wasn’t aware of all those wonderful benefits! 🙂 My husband gifted me handmade Amish rockers for our new back porch (for my birthday). I absolutely love them! There have been many times of lovely conversation while rocking on those rockers between family and friends! :o) I even have a post not too far back on my blog stating how I believe every porch needs at least one rocking chair…if not more!:) A lovely post and I loved the photos as well! Have a joy-filled week!

October 9, 2017 - 9:43 pm

Megan We have 3! Love them!! And believe it or not, the kids still love a good rock with their mama at 9 and 13 ❤

October 9, 2017 - 7:13 pm

Gigi I agree – the gliders are not the same. I’m not sure why? And I have a challenging time finding pillows for them too. I need to make some, I guess, if I can figure it out.

October 9, 2017 - 6:45 pm

Regina Oh I love rocking chairs. I have a rocking chair my husband gave me, when we were expecting our first daughter. That was almost 23 years ago! Now those glider “rockers” to me they aren’t true rocking chairs. There is something about them that just isn’t right. Anyway, I have a hard time finding back and seat pads for my rocking chair. I might have to figure out how to make one.

October 9, 2017 - 4:33 pm

Our Home of Many Blessings Oh how lovely…we have quite a few rockers as well.iv always had them in my home and just love them.I love rocking sweet babies out on the porch early in the morning before the day has began.