Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Halloween Memories & Decor

Happy October! I was over at the Heartwarming Authors blog yesterday with Catherine Lanigan blogging about spooky Halloween memories and sharing some pics of our Halloween decor this year. Mine includes a real black cat :). The comments on the post were really fun and interesting too. Pop on over and check out the comments and photos HERE!

We also announced our upcoming Facebook party that's going to be loaded with chances to win fabulous prizes. You can get details on which authors will be there and sign up to come HERE.

Hope to see you both places!

Rula :)

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Flock & Flowers Backyard Update

Sunflower in Rula's garden wrapped in Cardinal Climber
Happy Fall! This is my favorite season and I thought I'd post some of the garden and flock photo updates. This year's chicken flock additions are doing great, as are my ducks and geese. In fact, we've been getting a very small duck egg every few days. I'm not sure who is laying, but I suspect it's my Khaki Campbell female, Amber, who is the smallest (dainty young lady) of my ducks. As for my Brown Chinese Geese, you'll recall that their size and behavior as goslings had me almost certain that I had a male and two females. Well, now the middle sized one (as a baby), Galadriel, has caught up in size to the one I'm sure is a male, Gandalf, and her behavior has changed. Her knob is much bigger than Tauriel's too. Now I'm thinking I might have two males. I'm not sure, but we'll see. I may have to get more females, although my Pekin duck female, Spirit, has a total crush on Galadriel. Yes, romance in the flock. :) Scroll through the pics below! I included a few flower pics that I'd posted on Facebook, for those who don't FB. Sorry about spacing between pics in this post. Blogger wasn't cooperating.

Some of Rula's flock
Rula's geese...Tauriel on the left, Galadriel in the middle and Gandalf to the right

Rula's Brown Chinese Geese
Rula's geese: Tauriel (I'm sure a female), Galadriel (sure was a female when younger, now I think she's a male based on new behaviors, knob and 'she's' so loud), and Gandalf (was the largest gosling, always on guard and I'm pretty sure is a male)
Rula's sunflowers
The Cardinal Climber that wraps around Rula's sunflowers. The hummingbirds LOVE it!

Rula's butterfly garden

 And some may have seen my harvest last month on FB...

Asian pears and apples from Rula's trees.

A cool frog on Rula's window, backlit by an outdoor light at night.

Budding zinnia in Rula's garden

Zinnia in Rula's garden

Zinnia in Rula's garden

Zinnia in Rula's garden. I love that name. I might need to call my next hen 'Zinnia'.
 And a recent sunset...

September Sunset at Rula's
I also have a little public service announcement regarding cats. You may not have a lot of feral or stray cats around your place, but I'm surrounded by farms with barns. Recently, a mommy cat and her two kittens, plus a cat I think was dad, took up residence in our garage. The only problem is that we already have a TNR'd feral calico living there and she wasn't too happy about this. The new kitties were strays (very friendly), as opposed to feral. TNR refers to 'Trap, Neuter, Release'. We have a program in our county where you can trap feral cats, have them neutered/spayed and vaccinated, then re-released in the same place they were trapped. They get to live out their live this way, while also controlling the population (litter prevention). This also keeps them out of kill shelters. Since 'mine' were strays, I took them in to check for microchipping (they weren't) and they were put up for adoption. Mama has already been adopted! I would have kept them myself, but I already have 3 indoor cats and one outdoor. Please look into TNR in your area, especially if you don't have 'no kill' shelters. And if you want a pet, adopt!

On another note, for those who don't see my announcements on FB or Twitter regarding giveaways, I also try and post them under 'news' on my website. Currently, I have a Goodreads Giveaway going on for After the Silence (Sept 22 - Oct 9). Details HERE.

Oh, and before I get back to writing, I have my next title to share! This is for book #6 in the 'From Kenya, With Love' series..the one after Every Serengeti Sunrise. No cover yet, but the title is...The Twin Test. Something tells me there might be twins on the cover, but we'll see ;). Cover or not, it's already up for pre-order (release date May 1, 2018)!

The next time I post, we'll be enjoying favorite month. See you then!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Amazon Top 100 Bestseller List - Every Serengeti Sunrise

The title of this post says it all and I had to share! Yesterday, my upcoming release, Every Serengeti Sunrise, hit the Amazon Top 100 Bestseller list for Literature & Fiction with Animals, rising to #33 on a list filled with famous bestsellers ('s the link to the list: I'm not comparing my book...just saying that I'm blown away and both humbled and honored...and extremely grateful to my loyal readers who pre-ordered the book and spread word of the series to others. I'm truly, truly grateful and hope you'll love this next story.

I just slipped off the list today, but I've included screenshots of my rank below because...well, you know...when crazy stuff like that happens to you, you take photos as souvenirs because lists fluctuate. My moment of fame was relatively brief, but I'll take it! It lasted longer than I expected! Of course, if you haven't purchased a Kindle copy yet but plan to, if you do so now, it might pop me right back onto the list :). Of course, you don't have to, but if you do, thank you in advance.

A bit of backstory on my day yesterday...I was under a deadline to turn in the full manuscript for the book that comes after Every Serengeti Sunrise, so I had been averaging no more than 3 hours of sleep a night. Sunday night, I only got 2 hours and then woke up to being #99 on the list. One up from the bottom but I didn't care. The adrenaline had me going before I made it to the coffee maker! You don't want to know how much coffee I've had this week. The number of cups alone would give you heartburn.

Then, after telling my fellow Harlequin Heartwarming authors (because those gals are an incredibly supportive sisterhood), they took it upon themselves to spread the news to their readers! I'm telling you, these authors are truly 'heartwarming' and generous. The next thing I knew the book was at #63...then #41...then it hit #33! If it got any higher, I missed it. But here are a few screen shots to celebrate :).

At #33:

When it was at #63:

And let me tell you, I was a mess (I'm a scary sight in those last days of a deadline). But when friends celebrate with you and cheer you on, it's energizing. And when your book loving kids get super excited because they see one of their favorite dinosaur books on the same list (my 13 yo kept pointing it out lol), you laugh and dance and give him a hug. And then when your high schooler doesn't drive home right after school and you're about to get upset but he pulls the cutest elephant figurine out from behind his back because he went to the store to buy you a celebratory gift (and you all know my books include elephants and anti-poaching themes) cry and give hugs.

My kids are keepers ;).

My cats are too. I had to get back to finishing my deadline book, so one of my cats, Nimbus, picked his favorite place in my office to cheer me on. Okay, he cheered cat-style. As in his dreams while napping. But at least he likes sleeping next to my books and trophy. My loyal cat fan ;).

I did turn in my book yesterday and know I'll get revisions soon. In the meantime, I caught up on sleep last night and need to clean/restock the fridge and change the kitty litter. Ah, the glamorous life of a writer :).

I hope tomorrow kicks off a wonderful September for you. And for those of you in south Texas and Louisiana, I've been keeping track of Hurricane Harvey's devastation and am sending you prayers. I used to live in Texas, including in Houston, and have a lot of friends there and some of my friends have family there. Prayers and hugs to you all.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Another teaser & limited time deal!

Don't worry...not every one of my posts between now and December will be about my upcoming release. Promise! Besides, you all know how much I love autumn and I won't let it pass by without posting fall pics from my garden. But I just noticed that the second book in my From Kenya, With Love series, After the Silence, is on sale for only $1.99 (Kindle version) on Amazon! I have no idea how long the sale will last but I really wanted to mention it for those who may not have read the book yet.

Why? Well, all my books can stand alone, although the setting and characters are connected and appear in each one...and the next three in the series will feature the children from books 1-3 all grown up and facing their own obstacles to their happily ever afters. In After the Silence, you'll get to meet Maddie Corallis...the heroine in my upcoming Every Serengeti Sunrise...when she's a ten year old girl struggling to cope with a traumatic experience. In fact, you'll get to Haki Odaba and Pippa Harper (first appearing in The Promise of Rain, book 1) all grown up too.

I must say that writing a character as a child and then as an adult is an amazing experience that involves digging into their psychology, the events in their lives that changed them and seeing how it all shapes who they are as adults.

I know I shared the back cover blurb in my last post, but here's a more detailed teaser for Every Serengeti Sunrise:

Elephants, Africa’s wild savannah and three best friends…

When attorney Maddie Corallis returns to Kenya to fight a humanitarian vs animal rights case, the last thing she expects is for her childhood friend, wildlife veterinarian Haki Odaba, to be the very man she’s up against. Loyal and protective, Haki would never turn his back on the elephants he’s devoted to saving, any more than Maddie could abandon the native tribes she’s come to protect. An impossible battle…but nothing compared to the fight they face when old feelings surface and the soul-deep connection they’ve always shared threatens the worst kind of betrayal...that of their dearest friend Pippa. The one Haki is expected to marry. 

Denying their feelings is torture, but giving in is not an option. Not with the suffering it would cause. Besides, Maddie left Kenya once and she’ll be leaving again soon. An ocean, a case and a friend between them. Maybe love can’t always find a way…or can it?

 And for those who haven't read After the Silence yet, here's its blurb:

Does following her passion mean losing her way?

Marine Ben Corallis is an expert at facing death, but nothing comes close to the terror that grounds him when his wife is killed in a car accident the day he returns from duty. He's left to raise an infant, a toddler and a ten-year-old girl who hasn't uttered a word since her mother's death.

It's hard not to care for the widowed marine with three young children. Yet he's still grieving, too burdened with guilt to fall in love again. And Hope Alwanga's future as a doctor awaits her on the other side of the world, in Nairobi. If two such opposites can't agree on a common country, how can they ever create a safe place to call home?

Also, apart from fall pics and backyard flock updates, stay tuned for big giveaways this fall. All four Harlequin Heartwarming December release authors (myself included) have lots of fun planned!

And now I'm off to take care of back-to-school errands (my kids start next week) and get more writing done for book 5!

Have a wonderful rest of August!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Cover for Every Serengeti Sunrise!

Those of you who are signed up for my newsletter got a sneak peek at the cover for my upcoming December release EVERY SERENGETI SUNRISE ('From Kenya, With Love' book 4, Harlequin Heartwarming). However, at the time, I had not yet seen the back cover blurb, so I couldn't share it in the newsletter.

Well, guess what I woke up to this morning? The email with my official photo files! So here it is...cover and blurb. I'm writing this post just after 3pm and as of a few seconds ago, the blurb wasn't up on Amazon yet, so you may be getting a first look at it here!

And for those of you who have been following the series and wondering which young characters from the first three books are all grown up in this one...and which three are involved in an impossible love triangle...this blurb will be your big clue ;).

Elephants, blazing skies and her two best friends…

Maddie can’t wait to return to Kenya! Until she learns the bill her law firm has sent her to fight is the same one her friend Haki helped write. At first, her work feels disloyal to Haki, but soon the sparks flying between them aren’t anger…but something more. Much more. Which is another kind of betrayal. Her cousin Pippa has been counting on a proposal from Haki for years. But to Maddie, denying her love for Haki also means betraying herself.

Available for pre-order at:

or your favorite online bookstore!

Paperback - ISBN-13: 978-0373368648
ebook - ASIN: B06ZZLXH4C

I must admit that my inspiration for Haki was a young Chiwetel Ejiofor with a little stubble and a bit of a outdoorsy/rugged in this article (or really any of the actor's image of my favorite actors) and the cover model looks much younger, but the cover does have a romantic feel that I love. My inspiration for Maddie was inspired by a young Ashley Greene like here (not with her Twilight makeup lol)...and they got her spot on. Overall, I can't resist a gorgeous sunset. Such a romantic time of day.

So what do you think? And for those of you who have been following the series, I have to ask...Team Maddie or Team Pippa?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

RWA 2017 Conference Photos

I'm back from the Romance Writers of America 2017 conference and, as promised, I have pictures to share. In fact, too many pics for one post, so I've split them up. My friend and blog sister over at Harlequin Heartwarming Authors blog, Catherine Lanigan, and I just posted a photo recap of the conference and it includes TONS of pics, from casual gatherings to the famous Harlequin Party held at the Waldorf Astoria! I'll post a few of those, plus additional photos here, but rather than duplicate the posts, here's the link to that one...which we can call RWA17 pics part 1 :). Please check them out because I was up well after midnight putting those photos and the post together!

And we can call the pics here, part 2 ;). These pics will include a few of my faves (you might see both places), as well as some with my author friends who aren't with Heartwarming (but they're just as special to me of course).

Let's start with the fact that I finally got to meet my extraordinary editor, Claire Caldwell, in person! Every time we've tried to meet over the past year or two, something has happened. I had to leave the New York conference early in 2015 because of a death in the family...then when she attended my chapter's annual retreat the following spring, I couldn't make it because it coincided with my eldest's Senior Prom and my husband was out of town. Well, this year it finally happened! I knew she was super nice, patient, smart and plain brilliant as an editor, but she was even more so in person!

Catherine Lanigan (also one of Claire's lucky authors) and amazing editor Claire Caldwell. 

Claire Caldwell and me at the Harlequin Party. Sorry for the red photo. Mood lighting!

Claire, myself and Catherine
Okay, I'm posting a little backwards here, since the party wasn't until Friday night, but my other post on the Heartwarming blog goes in chronological order, I promise.

One of the best parts of my conference was getting to see my close friends and annual roomies, Harlequin author Jeannie Watt and her daughter, author Jamie Dallas. Jeannie received an award for reaching 25 books with Harlequin and Jamie had just found out she'd won a Stiletto award (Contemporary mid-length for The Wrong Brother) at an event right before the party! You go girls!

Jeannie Watt, me and Jamie Dallas

Jeannie Watt and Jamie Dallas in front of the Harlequin sign honoring their award recipients. Beautiful ladies!
Jeannie has written for Harlequin Superromance and American in the fact she was my favorite cowboy author long before I got published and, for those of you who follow my posts, you'll remember her as my mentor and the author who made me pitch the book that ended up being my first sale and debut :). I'm so excited that she'll be bringing her cowboys to the Heartwarming family!

Jeannie on the end with her 25 book award. There were more awards afterwards...all the way up to 150 books!

Jeannie and Jamie with her Stiletto contest award.

The lovely and sweet Miranda Indrigo, who is always there to answer any questions we Harlequin Authors have.

Okay, this one's on the other post too, but I had to tease you with how gorgeous the room and dessert set up is at the Harlequin Party. More pics if you follow the post link above!

Authors Cari Lynn Webb, Amy Vastine, Jennifer Snow and Carol Ross at the party.
See that giant screen in the back? Well, Harlequin had book covers rotating through. See my other post of the Heartwarming covers that made it on the big screen. Here's one of Jeannie Watt's 25th book.

Catherine Lanigan and me on our way to the Harlequin Party.

Catherine Lanigan and Kate James. We shared a taxi to the party :).

Our traditional pic! See the other post for the one we took back in 2014!
And then there was the Reader's For Life Literacy Autographing which is open to the public and raises funds for literacy. Check out the other post for pics of all the Heartwarming authors signing. I didn't this year because my next book release isn't until December. Here's a shot of Cari and Jeannie who sat next to each other last year too. These two are a riot. They had me laughing so hard and readers loved them. One reader even brought Jeannie a specially made gift with her book cover on it!

Always great to see Donna Alward at the conference!

And I was excited to see Nancy Holland. It's so fun to run into people you usually see online.

I ran into so many friends and I don't have pics of them all. Some have been shared on Facebook and Twitter though, if you hang out there or lurk. Gosh, if I try and post names, I know I'll miss someone, but a few were Karen Foley, Cathryn Parry, Barbara Wallace, Tanya Agler and so many more! If I forgot to list you, it's from sheer exhaustion...not because I don't love you.

Again, I posted many more pics at the above link to the Heartwarming blog, so I'll leave you with this last (somewhat blurry one). I love it because, although we attend the conference to learn at workshops, meet with our editors/agents and find out about publishing trends, the conference is also about getting to see friends (sometimes only this once a year) who understand what it means to be a writer and who are always supportive and giving.

Kate James, me and Catherine Lanigan
So now that I'm back home, I'm feeling recharged and inspired (albeit tired from travel). I'm working on book 6 in my From Kenya, with Love series, due at the end of the month. Book 5, Every Serengeti Sunrise releases in December (and is up for preorder). I just saw the cover for it and it's very romantic. I'll be doing a cover reveal in my newsletter by tomorrow, so anyone who wants to get an early look at it, sign up soon on my website!

I hope you all get a minute to check out the pics on the Heartwarming blog too. Thanks for visiting and checking the ones I posted here!

Until next time,

Rula :) (who really, really missed getting to see Victoria Curran. Wish you were there!)

Monday, July 24, 2017

Ducklings, Goslings & Coop Addition

Hey, everyone! I'm sorry that it has been awhile since my last update, but I hope this post makes up for it. A ton of pictures are involved but there's no such thing as too much cute. Right?

'Are you my mommy?' (One of my Brown Chinese Goslings)

I've had a lot going on this stuff, medical (though everyone's fine now), deadlines etc...and that's largely why I was missing from social media for awhile. But if there's one thing I've learned, it's that when life gets crazy and you don't have enough time in a day and you're physically and emotionally exhausted, that's when stopping...even for mere do something you love...something that brings you joy and a sense of so important. If you don't recharge, you won't be able to help others (you all know the airplane oxygen mask rule about putting yours on first). For me, raising backyard chickens isn't just about having organic, pasture raised eggs, organic pest control, an endless supply of compost and the satisfaction of knowing I'm taking steps towards permaculture. Chickens make me happy. They have funny personalities and watching them free range is a beautiful sight. It's bucolic and serene and grounding.

So, naturally, I added 6 ducklings and 3 goslings to the family. What? You don't see the twisted logic in all that? I'm betting some of you backyard poultry keepers out there totally get it lol.

Oh, and I got Jersey Giant and Welsummer chicks too (3 of each) because I'm dying to try the breeds and eventually narrow down to a few favorites. As for the quantities, that in part had to do with minimum ordering laws around here. Bottom line is I had a lot of babies brooding in the basement in March/April!

'You know I'm irresistible'. (One of my Pekin ducklings)
I know you're wondering why I'd go and add more work to my schedule when I'm so busy as it is. For one thing, I've been wanting to try my hand at raising ducks and geese. I have so many pics to post that I'll have to leave all the reasons why they're great to raise for another time, but suffice it to say, I'M IN LOVE! I wish I'd gotten them years ago. Now, I still love my chickens, but I have to say ducks are flat out hilarious, geese are like puppies and both are incredibly smart and easy to train. I still struggle to get my chickens in their coop for the night, but all it took was 3 days to train my waterfowl and they caught on. Now, all I have to say is, "Go home. Go to bed." In fact, the ducks/geese are so smart that when they see me urging the chickens in their coop, they get in their house on their own and wait for me to lock the door (my birds free range but get locked up at night for safety).

Anyway, I won't keep you waiting on the pics. I've included some of the duck/goose house we built too. I'll go in chronological order, so first up are the chicks I got (all female). I did post some pics back in May on the Heartwarming blog, if you want to check them out too (not nearly as many as here though). of 3 Jersey Giant chicks

One of 3 Welsummer chicks 

I had to order the ducks through my local farm store and (after much breed research and not being able to decide) I got 2 Pekins, 2 Rouens and 2 Khaki Campbells. These were unsexed so I had no idea what I'd end up. Turns out I have a boy and girl from each breed! I picked up the ducklings on April 12 (they were about 2 days old).

Pekin and KC napping

I love how they make eye contact. Remember, ducklings and goslings imprint (something I didn't experience with chicks.) You can see the rouens in the background.
So here they are in a giant plastic tub brooder. I have a giant dog crate that my birds graduate to before the tub gets too snug. Let me tell you, ducklings and goslings grow much faster than chicks! Like, freakishly fast.

So the Pekins were named Spirit and Karma. The Rouens are Lapis and Lazuli (because of the color they get on their wings) but my kids insisted on naming one Nathan Drake, so Lazuli is only his middle name. The Khaki Campbells are Amber and Topaz (because of the gem color but also because of the 'top'...he ended up being crested). 

The pic above gives you an idea of how I set up the dog crate as a brooder. I had read up on all the different methods folks use to keep them dry (ducklings + water = mess) and went through a series of trial and errors. This first set up used old towels (reserved for pets). The water is on a foil covered pan with paper towels. I got tired of taking the real towels out two-three times a day to hose off and hang dry. Plus, it was kind of gross. The thing is, I'm very smell sensitive so I tend to keep my brooders/coops very clean. Also, to waterproof the crate and to keep the little ones from escaping or getting their heads caught, I cut up an old box in strips (vacuum box) and taped it around the crate then lined the bottom and a few inches up the walls with empty feed bags.

"Mommy, play with us, please!"

Here they graduated to drinking from a plastic container with holes cut in the top. It's weighted down with a few river rocks. I think I read about this idea on and it worked great to keep the kids from jumping in for a swim.
Happy ducklings! They're about 1.5 weeks old here. See how fast they grow in just a week?

Very soon I switched to a jug with holes (again, not my original idea). The marker around the holes seemed to help them see where to stick their heads (at least 'till they caught on). Notice how they all started pairing up by breed?  They're about 2.5 weeks old here. Same crate. Much less room.

Swimming outside at about 3 weeks
So remember how I got tired of using towels? I ended up using pee pads. I got the largest 'human' sized ones on sale (cheaper than puppy pads) and changed them out as often as needed. Now, I'm all about recycling and composting and minimizing what goes into landfills, but the towel washing situation was just more than I had time or energy for after awhile. Plus, we're on well water so all that washing was using water and electricity (pump). I hated using disposable pads, but I was desperate and OMG did it make life easier. More expensive, but a huge time and labor saver. And btw, I did try pine shavings (which I use in my chicken coop), but they kept eating them. I mean, really eating them, so I stopped.

Confession: I had convinced myself that I could wait until next year to try geese. I flip flopped a bit, but I missed the ordering date and figured that was that. But then my farm store went and posted on FB that they had some extra goslings. I needed to pick up bedding anyway for the chickens and figured I'd just take a look at the babies while I was there.

I came home with three.

I'm sorry but I couldn't resist. I figured the fact that I missed the order date, yet the store still ended up with a few and I just happened to see their post about it...was a sign. I was meant to take them home. Don't you love backyard poultry keeper logic? My husband hates it lol.

Anyway, these were Brown Chinese goslings and I'd read about how they're guard and weeder geese. There was one who I immediately suspected was a male. He was so much bigger than the rest (but still a baby based on no feathers)...bigger head and acted bolder and more curious. He would not take his eyes off me. He had me at hello. That imprinting thing is powerful both ways. So I got him along with two of the smallest, dainty looking goslings (presumably female). Now that they're older, I can tell you I got the sexes right. The goslings were less skittish than both the chicks and ducks from the start. In fact, they begged to be held and wanted nothing more than a lap cuddle. I'm telling you, feathered puppies!

That's my boy right up front. Can you tell? I named him Gandalf and his two ladies are Galadriel (the larger female, who he's bonded with the most) and Tauriel (who's very attached to me...she's on the right).

I started them in the plastic brooder, but this time I have a pee pad in there.

Gandalf on the left, Galadriel on the right and little Tauriel in the middle.

Only about a week old and you can already tell who's boss.

They're so fluffy but feel completely different than chick fluff. They feel dense like a my kid's stuffed animal dolls (had to clarify there;).
They literally would try and climb out of the brooder to get to my lap. You know you're doomed when you start singing the 'Goosey, goosey gander. Where shall I wander?' nursery rhyme to goslings in your lap.

First day outside! Notice the cage? It's an old rabbit cage I got when we had guinea pigs. I use it for transitioning chicks outside, so the older birds can watch without pecking.

Gandalf on the left, Galadriel up front and Tauriel in back. Notice I put a hole in the lid of a butter tub for water.

Yum! Clover!

By the way, even before they went outside, I was clipping clover, grass and dandelions etc...and putting them in their brooders. I give all my babies (meaning chicks too) fresh greens from outside, along with dirt (as well as some chick grit), crumbled eggs and other nutritious foods. I'm not one to stick with just bagged feed. I also use things like oregano, other herbs and organic apple cider vinegar in the drinking water for gut health and to help prevent parasites (since I raise them organically and don't use chemical wormers).

The ducks on the same day. They're about a month old here. Notice the crest on Topaz's head? It's also really easy to tell boys from girls at this point. The girls quack loudly and the boys sound raspy like they want to quack but they've been smoking for too many years ;)...or like they have laryngitis.

The goslings in the back are two weeks old here. They all get along. The ducks were sweet and welcoming from the start! So different than my chickens who are ready to attack newcomers. I read somewhere that ducks have a 'let's party, the more the merrier' attitude. So true!

Sooooo....big piece of advice. These Brown Chinese are a swan goose. They get tall very fast. I had to move them to the big dog crate, only I still didn't have the duck/goose house done. But the ducks were too big for the crate. Which meant I had to get creative for a week with the ducks in the basement. The pee pads helped but I still ended up bleaching the area/floor when they moved out at the end of that week! These guys can make a swimming pool out of a single drop of water.

Advice? Have their outside home ready to go before you get them!

The good thing is ducks are easy to contain. Chickens would have flown out of this in a flash. I had left over bubble wrap insulation and taped it into a 'play pen'. I was constantly giving them water (they drink tons) so I used the jugs in waiting to help brace the walls. The red bin on the right is the bottom of the old guinea pig cage. It helped contain the water a little.
We did finally get the house done. It's attached to our chicken coop, which we also built from scratch. you can see some of that process in this old post HERE. The area is on an incline, hence the concrete blocks for leveling. It's also screwed into the back of the coop, which sits securely on 4x4's in the ground.

The steps aren't made yet, but they've been getting in by hopping on this plastic platform and some cinder blocks.
I had coated the floor of the chicken coop with Blackjack 57 roof sealer (another tip from It made washing the coop out so much easier. So I coated the entire inside of the duck/goose house so that I can easily hose it out if needed. Keeping their water outside really makes a difference with keeping things clean. I also started with straw, but found out what's available has herbicide in it. I switched to the same pine shavings we use in the chicken coop and it has worked out well. I compost and I don't want my birds or my garden beds getting an herbicide dose.

One thing I did this time around is that I don't have a lip at the front. This way, when I wash the house out, everything can flow right out or get raked out (the compost is a few feet in front of  it, which makes that easy). I don't have to worry about much bedding falling out because these guys don't scratch like chickens. Also, since this house is lower to the ground (the way ducks and geese like it), I didn't put big windows like the coop has because I didn't want my dogs looking in at night. Instead, I used corrugated roofing sheets that let light in.
Also, note that I had not drilled/cut the extra side and door ventilation in this pic but they were done before the kids moved in.

Roofing sheets on top of hardware cloth. I put hardware cloth first for predator proofing. The corrugated sheets allow extra ventilation along the edges as well. The window in the back is part of the 8x8 chicken coop. The duck/goose house is 8x4 but I also put a mesh divider in the middle to keep the ducks and geese separate. It only took a few minutes for me to see that the geese would trample the ducks if I didn't (not on purpose, but because of size). They can see each other and chit chat though ;).
All vents are covered with hardware cloth attached with washers and screws.

And a few more pics...
Gandalf the Great
BTW, although my geese are named after Lord of the Rings characters, sometimes I refer to them as 'Guardians of the Galaxy'. After all, they're guard geese ;).

Wing color coming in!

Taken recently...

Geese eat grass like nobody's business. They love weeds too.

One of my favorite shots when they were getting their feathers.

'Don't you dare forget about us!'
(Baldy...who is finally growing new feathers)
Sorry, I know that was a ton of pics, but I hope you enjoyed them. If anyone has questions about any of the above, feel free to ask in the comments. I'm not an expert, but I'm happy to share my experiences or what I've tried. I will add, for those thinking about waterfowl, you don't have to have a pond or lake. I have a creek, but they haven't been there yet. They do, however, need to be able to wash up, submerge their heads, preen and just have the kind of water fun they deserve to have. I bought a plastic kid pool on sale (less than ten dollars and now I saw some for less than five) and have another tub that I rinse/refill three times a day (they muck the water up). I move them around so that no particular area ever gets muddy. So far, so good.

That's all for now! I need to get back to working on book 5 in my 'From Kenya, with Love' series. Book 4 releases December 2017! It's titled 'Every Serengeti Sunrise' (my working title stuck) and is up for preorder. I haven't seen the blurb or cover yet, though. I will say that these next three books revolve around the kids from the first three...all grown up.

I'm also headed to RWA Nationals 2017, so I'll post pics soon. I'll be posting some on the Heartwarming Authors blog on Tues, Aug 1st with my friend, the lovely Catherine Lanigan too.

Stay tuned and take care :)!