Houston, There’s a Fox In The Hen House


In the years of raising chickens and ducks; I’ve learned that battling predators is part of the job. Our little flock has endured many attacks by many predators but the most active and dangerous are coyotes and foxes. Typically coyotes and foxes are night hunters that hunt in the countryside and usually tend to keep their distance from humans. That is until now!

Wildlife officials are becoming more alarmed by the recent behavior from both coyotes and foxes. They are adapting. They are changing their hunting habits.  The dry conditions and scarce food has brought both predators to hunt in broad day light and encroach closer into heavily populated  suburban environments.

Two years ago, we had a coyote enter the back patio of our acre property and attempt to pick up our cat Blue,  during a hot summer day.  By the time I noticed, the cat was already in the coyote’s mouth. Our cat  was a big 17+ lb cat and the coyote was struggling to pick him up. The coyote was covered with mange and was very weak.  I was able to split up the attack by pushing a large cat carrier over both of them. The coyote released the cat and the cat ran off. To my surprise, the coyote wasn’t afraid of us. It touted off after the attack and left the immediate backyard. I frantically called my husband and told him what happened. He called my neighbor who came over to help me find the cat or coyote. My neighbor rushed across the street in hunter mode with his cross bow in hand.  The coyote didn’t last very long since it refused to leave our yard  and was handled with by our neighbor who we now lovingly refer to as “Coyote Joe”. Six months later, we lost our cat Red to another ugly coyote attack.

This year the foxes have been relentless. They have picked up where the coyotes left off. These foxes, later identified as gray foxes are the size of a small dog, often hunt in packs and are California natives.

In this recent week, we’ve lost three of our flock. One adult female duck went missing, 3 days later I was seconds behind a fox attacking, killing and taking one of our ducklings. Then the next night, I heard my ducklings screaming again and ran out to multiple foxes attacking their coop and taking yet another duckling.

While these attacks aren’t fun; they are apart of our lives. They are a reminder to keep coop security up to par as well as how to think like a predator. As a result, we’ve learned to step up security and set up no kill traps and game cameras around the yard.  We’ve also staged a flashlight and cross-bow by the back door.


After only one night we trapped one! Once trapped, we called around to local wildlife officials to ask their advice. Since we prefer to not kill anything, we released it. We’ve had some success in the past with trapped animals being too scared to return to the property after their entrapment experience. If he comes back again, well that’s another story. Above is the picture of him after his release. Charming isn’t he?

We will continue to keep up security around the property and have added large, loud (but beautiful sounding) wind chime because unpredictable noise is one of the recommended methods of scaring off foxes. They’ve made one reappearance which was a stunning display of multiple foxes on the fence line calling and barking to each other as if to say, “We are leaving but we not afraid of you”.  Thankfully, (keep your fingers crossed) they haven’t been seen since!

Happy Hunting!


Restoring & Seasoning Rusty Cast Iron Pans


Want a pan that will stand the test of time? For over 100 years cast iron as been a traditional favorite in kitchens across America. These almost indestructible pans can easily withstand a lifetime of use and often survives longer than it’s owner. If you take good care of your cast iron cookware, it can be passed down and enjoyed by generations to come.

Got rust? Don’t toss out that pan, it can be fixed! Simply follow the instructions below for seasoning your cast iron cookware and it will once again look and perform like new.

Step 1:
Wash the cookware thoroughly with hot soapy water and an abrasive sponge. Rinse and dry it thoroughly.


Step 2:
Coat the entire surface of the pan with a layer of vegetable shortening or oil. I use a paper towel so I can be sure I’m getting the oil into all cracks and edges. Coat the undersides and handles as well. Start with a small amount and add to it as needed, too much oil will make your pan smoke in the oven.

Step 3:
Next, place the cookware upside down on the upper rack of a 350ºF oven, over a lower rack lined with aluminum foil, for about one hour or according to label instructions (if new). Allow the cast iron cookware to cool inside the oven before removing it. The iron will absorb the oil and help to repair any rust or bald spots in your pan. And viola!

Warning: This process is likely to produce significant amounts of smoke so you may need to leave some windows open and/or disable your smoke detector.

Suggestions for Use

  • The best way to clean a cast iron skillet is to sprinkle some coarse salt over the surface and then gently scrub it with a paper towel to remove the food and grease.
  • Avoid using your cast iron cookware to prepare tomato-based foods or other acidic foods containing lemon juice or vinegar. They will deteriorate the non-stick surface, and as a result, the cookware might need additional seasoning.
  • Always preheat your cast iron cookware before adding food. Test for readiness by adding a couple of drops of water. If the water pops and sizzles, the pan is hot enough to begin using. If the water immediately evaporates, the pan is too hot, and the heat should be turned down to allow it to cool to the appropriate temperature.

    Happy Frying!


Introduction of Our Fruit Trees: Part One


We LOVE fruit trees here on our little homestead! We have lots of fruits and lots of information to gave so for this reason I decided to break this post into two parts. Part 1 will be an introduction to our well established, in ground top producing trees. Part 2 will cover our potted, younger fruit trees we have on the property.

When my fiancee first moved here there were many trees already in ground, established and produce yearly if not year round. These include a walnut tree, a dwarf lemon tree, two apricot trees, 3 plum trees, a cherry plum tree, a peach tree and two tangerine trees.

The walnut tree (pictured above) is great! It produces a massive amount of walnuts every year! Unfortunately, we haven’t tried to harvest it yet but will when it’s in season again.

Our established dwarf lemon tree produces silver dollar sized lemons. Lots of them! It would take forever to make lemonade but they are great for add a little flavor to a dish or I enjoy using them in my own homemade household cleaners.


We have two apricot trees, one big and one little. The big one is the heavy weight champion on our property! It comes in at a whopping 75+ pounds of apricots every season!!! The smaller one produces probably around 15 pounds.


It’s because of this tree alone, that I’ve mastered making and canning apricot jam! We are still working off 2014’s fruit season even though I make it yearly.  I tend to give away lots of fresh and canned jams as gifts to our friends and family. That’s one of the blessings of this lifestyle. You can be extremely generous with your goods. If you’re interested in my canning adventures, click here.


Next we have 3 plum trees and a cherry plum! The largest plum tree is our biggest producer. It produces a heavy load of 45+ pounds of sweet, wonderful plums. We don’t can these because for some reason that get eaten way too quickly and are often a family favorite.


The cherry plum is a special treat too! The cherry plum has a sweet, full taste of plums only slightly smaller with a cherry pit. These are the best to eat right off the tree!


Rain rinsed ripe and ready to pick cherry plums! So delicious!

Our peach tree is another wonderful blessing. While it doesn’t produce much, what it does produce is amazing! We only get a few pounds per season but every season we consistently get more every year. Go. Peach. Go!

Next we have two awesome tangerine trees. We don’t know much about what type of tangerine they are. They both produce silver dollar sized fruit. One tree’s fruit has no seeds and tastes great. The other tree’s fruit has seeds and tastes even better than the seedless. Both produce fruit literally year round. Here’s a picture of each of the two trees!



Well, now you’ve got the skinny on our established and producing fruit trees! I hope you enjoyed hearing all about them. Stay tuned for our part two covering all our new additions as well as our top secret best place ever to buy fruit trees on the cheap!


The Best Homemade Limoncello You’ve Ever Had!


Limoncello is an Italian liqueur, traditionally served after meals, or sometimes as a welcome drink. It’s typically served chilled at the very least, and occasionally it may be so cold that it borders on Slurpee consistency (though it has to be a lower-proof version or an extremely cold freezer to make that happen).
Generally speaking, there are only three ingredients in limoncello: sugar, spirit, and lemon. Occasionally you might find one that adds a dash of rosemary or another herb to the mix, and, if that’s your thing, we won’t judge. It’s generally clear with maybe a little cloudiness, and yes, it’s super easy to make, you just need a little patience.

This is my tried and true homemade limoncello recipe. Our family loves it as a chilled treat for hot summer days plus a beautiful bottle of Limoncello make a wonderful gift for any occasion! Enjoy!


  • Zest of 6 or 7 large lemons*
  • 1 litre or quart of pure grain alcohol or vodka**
  • 5 cups (1250 ml) water
  • 3 cups (700 gr) sugar

*Homegrown lemons are free from pesticides and wax. If using store bought lemons use hot water to remove any reside of pesticides or wax; pat the lemons dry.

** Use 100-proof vodka or pure grain alcohol, which has less flavor than a lower proof one and be smoother. Also the high alcohol level will ensure that the limoncello will not turn to ice in the freezer.

Step 1:  Wash the lemons with a vegetable brush. Carefully zest the lemons with a zester or vegetable peeler so there is no white pith on the peel. NOTE: Use only the outer part of the rind. The pith, the white part underneath the rind, is too bitter and would spoil your limoncello.

Step 2: In a large glass jar (1-gallon jar), add the vodka; add the lemon zest as it is zested. Cover the jar and let sit at room temperature for at least (10) ten days and up to (60) days in a cool dark place. The longer it rests, the better the taste will be. I do the full 60 days! As the limoncello sits, the vodka slowly take on the flavor and rich yellow color of the lemon zest. There is no need to stir – all you have to do is wait.


Step 3: In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and water; cook until thickened, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Let the syrup cool before adding it to the Limoncello mixture. Add to the Limoncello mixture from Step 2. Allow to rest for another 10 days.

Step 4: After the rest period, strain and bottle: discarding the lemon zest. Keep in the freezer until ready to serve. Keep an eye out for cool corked bottles, I used an old Courvoisier bottle as seen below.


Kitchen Notes:                                                                                                                           Whenever I start a batch of limoncello, I always make a batch of lemon bars around the same time. Take the zested lemons and juice them. Strain well and bottle the juice to be used in future recipe like delicious lemon bars. Limon juice can be kept bottled in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.


The limoncello itself will keep for one to two years. Store it in bottles with a cap or cork in your refrigerator or freezer. For an additional touch, serve in a chilled shot glass.


I hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as we do! Ciao!


Love, Marriage & New Beginnings


While I originally started this blog two years ago, I never stuck with it. Life happened and we got ENGAGED! Wedding planning took over as the days turned into weeks which morphed into months. We were MARRIED on a beach overlooking Lake Tahoe a few short weeks ago! Now that I’m settling in as a housewife; I’ve decided this was the time to start it again. So this is my beginning. Again.🙂

Welcome! I absolutely LOVE this lifestyle and can’t wait to share it with you. I’ve learned so much from adventures coyote hunting, performing chicken surgeries, “black market” bartering and even emergency medical triage training. You’ll never know where this lifestyle will lead you!

Stay tuned for my next post as I introduce myself and welcome you properly to our little homestead.