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Honour the Child

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BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Sunday, 31 May 2015
Things are really hopping around here!

As we await the birth of two new litters of bunnies in the next few days, it seems like a good time to take a breath and update on the developments of our little rabbitry.

First of all, we finally came up with a rabbitry name.  Naming things is a big deal in our family, and this one was hotly contested.  When we stumbled across the abundant folklore which links the rabbit with the moon we knew we wanted to work with that relationship~ look at the moon and you can see the rabbit shape, which in Japanese tales, is making sticky rice balls!  
Bigwig, Top Bunny in Charge (20 lb. Flemish Giant)

The problem is that the sparkly teenage vampires have taken all the good moon names!  We finally agreed upon Flying Moon Farm.
I have been around animals my whole life and spent a number of years active in the dog fancy, running a rescue and so on. But learning about the care and raising of rabbits has been a huge learning curve!  They are truly fascinating creatures.  I have had to let go of my dog & pet mindset as regards breeding and raising stock in order to be able to enter into rabbit raising both ethically and practically.
Rabbits produce. A Lot. And I'm not just talking about 'bunny berries' (poop!). They are made to reproduce~ our entire (North American, at least) ecosystem is based on rabbits being eaten by pretty much everything. SO they reproduce quickly and efficiently, adapting rapidly as needed to environment as generations blur past every 31 days.

This means I am developing breeding plans and goals and keeping a careful eye on keeping them on track. Temperament, breed type, purpose, size are all malleable pieces of a good program. And a plan for those who don't fit the plan. When a single doe could produce 70 offspring or more in a year, you have to have a plan for every one of them: pet, breed, cull, eat.

You can find the following image here: The Easter Bunny Problem
Yes, I said 'eat'. And that is a whole other topic. I have never eaten rabbit.  But when I had to do my first cull a couple of weeks ago, it was a terrible waste to trash a 7 lb. bunny. She had developed signs of an upper respiratory issue and the hard truth is it becomes the life of one rabbit vs. an entire herd. And it was hellishly difficult to do the deed with my own hands. But part of my commitment to these animals is humane treatment, which may include a clean, quick death instead of lingering illness. In taking on the responsibility for their lives I owe them that much. I said the learning curve was big.

I will say that watching them breed, kindle (give birth), develop, grow, interact and play has given me a whole new appreciation and deep respect for the species.  Every facet is fine tuned for their life.  To quote from our current reading, Watership Down:
All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies. And when they catch you, they will kill you. But first they have to catch you. Digger, listener, runner, Prince with the swift warning. Be cunning and full of tricks, and your people will never be destroyed.

At the present time, I am working on a Flemish Giant breeding program for size and temperament, as well as working in some interesting harlequin coloring (genetics is so much fun!) which I am calling my Giant Tiger Bunny Project~ we are keeping two does from Clover's first litter, Holly and Speedwell, towards this end.
Rowan is growing out her little Holland Lops and is going to try her first rabbit show in June!
She also hopes to keep a kit out of our Rex doe 'Spice' for the sport of 'bunny hopping' ~ agility for rabbits. And, oh my, the science she is learning without even knowing it!
Coco is always smiling!

If you want to follow our learning adventure you can follow Flying Moon Farm on Facebook and Instagram. ♥♥

{I've just got to say... I know that this topic can be controversial. Respectfully, if you don't like it, don't read it. Respectful dialogue is welcomed, but we reserve the right to simply delete comments that are harassing, negative or inflammatory.} So play nice or I will release the killer rabbits.

Sunday, 24 May 2015
I shared on a Waldorf based sale page on Facebook...
(I suspect sometimes that people figure that BTRT is not a 'small business' or that somehow 8 years means that we don't need their support... but for us, 8 years means skill, quality products, great service and a reliable shop to find great waldorf inspired toys!)

BTRT started 8 years ago when I couldn't find the types of clothing and toys I wanted for our daughter... Etsy was new and I jumped in! It has been a wild, amazing ride of self discovery, networking and creativity.

In the last year BTRT has enabled me to take a break from my 20 year career (much, much needed) and to focus on homeschooling and raising our daughter (twice exceptional ~ gifted with Aspergers, Tourettes and more letters ;)) while my husband works away from home.

We are working on self sufficiency in a very small home in the woods and have started a small rabbitry this spring. BTRT is a work of passion for me, flowing from a commitment to encourage and support gentle and simple childhoods. It is also the means by which we put food on our table and shoes on our feet (when we wear them!) while we adjust to living on much less.

I'm sharing this with you so you will know a little of the person behind the business~ BTRT is very much a family business, every silk is dyed in my kitchen. 8 years doesn't make us a big business, but I am grateful that it has made us a strong one, rooted in quality and community.

Being in Canada we face challenges like high postal/ shipping rates and paying at *least* 30% MORE for our supplies (shipping, duties/ taxes) than our American artisan friends. But we keep at it because I love to do it~ that has been my commitment to myself from day one, don't love it? don't do it!

So thank you! Our gratitude extends to each of you who have made our family's work part of your family's play!  In the 'Tag Sale' spirit~ We have set aside nearly 50 items, including some new patchwork fabric crowns at a great 'thank you' price in our anniversary sale section of the Etsy shop.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015
Over the winter, my mother found her childhood autograph book.
Do you remember those?

We'd exchange them at the end of summer camp, or the school year
~ getting signatures from all of our friends and favourite teachers?
"By hook or by crook, I'll be the last to write in your book" or my favourite,
"1 1 was a racehorse,
2 2 was 1 2
1 1 1 1 race
2 2 1 1 2".

Having found her book on December 16 (2014), she was touched to find within its pages a note~ from her very favourite (great) Aunt Rachel, written on December 16, 1961 when my mother was 9 years old. Rachel's home on the hill was one of my mother's beloved childhood haunts.
A spinster, Rachel is also remembered in our family as being the aunt with the beard.
Like a full on ZZ Top beard.
She figured that is the way God made her, so let it be!

Touched by Great Aunt Rachel's verse, in her familiar hand writing, my mom made a photocopy for each of us in the next generation. My first thought was that the verse was lovely, and worthy of stitching up.  Then it occurred to me that I could replicate Aunt Rachel's own hand!

I snatched up some natural cotton and gave it a good soak in some boiling tea (with salt) to create a more antique tone.  I enlarged the photocopy to the desired size and using my disappearing ink pen, I copied the text on to the cloth (having taped everything to my brightest window~ I don't have a lightbox).

{I prefer to use the disappearing ink, as I have found that some thread colours will run onto my canvas if I use the washable ink pen~ especially the red based colours.}

The letters were challenging, and I found, after several attempts as finding a stitch that worked for the handwriting, that a twisted backstitch did the trick.  The flowers I added freehand, choosing colours on the fly~ I didn't have a particular palette in mind, but I was trying to choose what might work in my mom's home, her kitchen is pear green with red and yellow, as well as what would suit the period of the original writing.

After a thorough steam pressing, careful not to flatten the flowers, I hooped the finished piece in a natural wood frame.  The photocopied verse was added to a piece of paper inserted into the back of the frame.

Now I just need to drop it in the mail!
Do you have any special words you would like to see finished in a loved one's hand?
My next project is a little note from my grandmother to me. ♥♥
Monday, 27 April 2015
I'm not sure that this is Wonderland, but I have definitely fallen down a rabbit hole.

I feel like I should apologize for the spotty blogging this year (whether out of sheer Canadian-ness or otherwise) but then I stop and check myself.  I am working really hard at not feeling guilty over not meeting expectations (my own or others). It is a bit of PPSD (post-pastoral stress disorder, and yes, I made that up, but it feels real enough!) and a bit of mid-life crisis, maybe? I don't know, but I am struggling to embrace the moments, sometimes whole hours, of downtime that I have in my life these days. But that is another blog post.
So, sorry not sorry on the lack of blog activity!

Homeschooling is taking more time these days.
Rowan is turning 10 and the school demands are increasing each year~ between working on areas of challenge, and keeping up with my gifted child in others, it is a big job!
We have also been taking part in group therapy for her anxiety & OCD, which has meant many trips to the city through the spring.
I am just now emerging from the 6 month crunch of Christmas/ Easter for Beneath the Rowan Tree and keeping busy with custom crown requests and fitting in a little felted art experimentation, too.
And now the bit about the rabbit hole... we sidelined our plans for ducks in exchange for rabbits.
A lot less mess and a lot more cuteness (except for my raging allergy to rabbits... hmmm).

I am the proud owner of two Flemish Giants and a litter of 10 kits.  As if that wasn't enough, we also added more rabbits this week, bringing our current total up to 17 bunnies, although our 'permanent resident' status will be more like 10.  Rowan traded her ducks for Holland Lops, which she is breeding for show and pets, and Andy, not to be left out, has a pair of Californians, Royal and Rayna.  Rabbtitry building plans are underway, and I'll keep the cute fluff coming!

(And please note I agreed to getting ONE rabbit this spring. )
That's the quick update... I'll be back with some more fluffy bunny stuff and more. ♥♥
Thursday, 26 March 2015
As we approach our 8th anniversary at Beneath the Rowan Tree, we are looking to celebrate 8 wonder-full years!

Happy customers who tell the story of their personal experience with our toys are the very best kind of marketing we can get!  And we have been blessed over the years to be part of the imaginative play in so many families worldwide. 

This initiative is being held on Instagram~ although we do have another opportunity coming up for non-IG folks.  You don't have to have been a BTRT customer (yet!) to participate, but we are seeking families who share our vision of natural, open-ended play and gentle, open-ended childhood.  So please consider applying and spread the word to others you may know who fit the bill.
Look for the image above on our Instagram feed to enter (see it directly right now HERE)~ be sure to follow each step (it isn't onerous, but in order to gather your info and get a feel for fit, you'll need to take a few minutes).
Closes April 3. ♥♥
Tuesday, 3 March 2015
A BTRT Easter tradition...
I could show you more, but why don't you take a peek?
Stocking now and through the next 2 weeks or so....
Monday, 23 February 2015
The Usual Mayhem blog is an eclectic mix of homeschooling, nature, crafts and every day life on gorgeous Manitoulin Island (Ontario, Canada).
As a blogger, one of my greatest joys is to share the work of other artisans and bloggers~ to introduce you to some of the very cool and interesting people that connect, in one way or another, to my work  at BTRT.  The connections and the community are the part of my work that feeds my soul~ I hope that you are as inspired by these women and their stories as I am!

It has been truly a pleasure to 'meet' Erin from The Usual Mayhem.
In part, because she is a kindred spirit who happens to live within 500 km (much less as the crow flies) of our home and shares our Northern Ontario spirit, but also because she is an experienced homeschooler, a fledgling off-the-gridder, and a nature lover. And if you don't know it, there is something very magical about people who live on islands (and I can say from experience that Manitoulin is an amazing island!).  So here is your chance to meet Erin, too!
The Usual Mayhem is very much a family affair.  Erin and her partner (a work-at-home software developer/ corporate trainer who also has his own blog) live on a large plot of land with a ten-year self-sustainability plan. They have three children~ a 22 year old entrepreneurial homeschool graduate, a 14 and a 7 year old.  Their spring plans include doubling their current garden and adding ducks, chickens, goats and sheep to their current critter count of 3 dogs.  Brave souls (14 ducklings coming our way has me trembling!). With everyone pulling together, the family also plans for wind turbines and solar panels to reach their goal of independence (although Erin admits she is willing to become an heiress if anyone is accepting applications!).

Erin began blogging while living in the province of Quebec, which has the unfortunate reputation of being very difficult on homeschoolers.  Her blog was a way to document their schooling and their progress.  Since the move to Ontario, she has continued to blog with the support of her family, near and far.  Blogging, like life, can have its slumps~ and a very serious health crisis last year truly shook the family to its core.  But they are returning to strength, leaning on one another, and striving once more towards their goals. Growing The Usual Mayhem blog is more about sharing than earning (a commitment I share wholeheartedly!) .

The Usual Mayhem is full of rich resources for homeschoolers,  with reviews, sections on 'Five in a Row', Unit Studies, and Erin's particular specialty, Nature Studies.  Along with crafts, hikes and adventures on the Island. With a recent change towards the Waldorf style of education at home, there are lots of handwork with natural materials and festival celebration ideas to enrich your own schooling efforts!  Be sure to take a peek at the Nature Studies Pinterest board Erin curates!
All this mayhem keeps Erin busy, along with her part-time work.  But she makes the time to pursue her hobbies~ favourite among these is buying and selling vintage furniture and antiques, inspired by their history and the stories they could tell. The family enjoys leisure time outdoors, and Erin notes that no matter how foul your mood, it is bound to change when surrounded by wildflowers or when struggling to keep your balance on a slippery rock!

Erin's attitude of thankfulness and the team spirit of her family are truly inspiring.
{And her sense of humour is delightful... I have to know more about this 'Hoser Hen'!}
In the coming year, the family plans to begin selling some of their creations on Etsy~ particularly the childrens' handmade fabric art.  And, says Erin, they are "open to whatever comes our way and aligns with our values". I suspect the goats, sheep, garden, dogs, business, blog, chicks, ducks, kids, work, play and adventures might keep them busy~ all that usual mayhem!

Please visit The Usual Mayhem, explore the many homeschooling resources from an experienced educator and follow along to be part of the learning adventure! ♥♥

Sunday, 22 February 2015
Did you know that ducks rival chickens in every way?
If you are looking for egg layers, you may want to check this out!
Photo Credit:
We are still buried under the snow, but our spring plans are underway!
We are expecting 14 day old ducklings mid-April.
Yep. Ducks.
For eggs.
photo credit:

Rowan has been planning for her own flock of egg layers for nearly two years.  She has saved her money and done her research. We have listened to chicken talk almost daily.  We chose a coop style (the Woods Open Air) and we were prepared to start building as soon as the snow clears.

I started looking at the (few) hatcheries available to us, and for those which could provide the heritage breeds Ro had chosen for cold-hardiness and egg laying.  Having grown up raising chickens for meat, I was not enamoured of the species, although I was willing to allow that raising egg layers *might* be a very different experience.  I was also quite concerned about our long winter and keeping chickens safe and warm. In my secret heart I wanted a couple ducks, and figured I could sneak them in on our order.

Concerned about our lack of a pond and the co-dwelling of hens and ducks, I dug a little deeper. And woah. Woah. Hang on one minute.  Ducks ROCK.  Check out this article for starters: 10 Reasons Why Raising Ducks Might Be a Better Choice.

Photo Credit: Bainbridge Farm Goods on Etsy

They love the rain and can tolerate (and even enjoy) the cold and snow.
They don't need a pond, just access to water (ie. kiddie pool).
They are quieter than chickens, lay longer and some even lay *more*!
They are social and many enjoy handling and being pets.
They are pros at bug control and foraging without destroying your garden or yard.
They don't roost~ coop design is so much simpler.
Drakes can co-exist.

{Not in love yet? Check out this infographic from , click to view larger}
Now, it isn't all perfection.
Ducks (domestic) are much slower on land, and lacking the ability to fly are more at risk from predators.
They are social and may enjoy hanging out on your porch.
This, combined with the fact that they are much messier (wet everything!) than chickens can be a turn off. (I'm told my grandmother waged an ongoing, and losing, battle with the ducks and their mess on her porch on the farm).
From anecdotes of other duck lovers, the mess is worthy of noting twice.
Photo Credit:
Rowan was an easier sell on ducks than I had imagined~ her dreams of becoming an Egg Baron happily embraced the idea of being the only duck egg seller in the area (vs. competing with many chicken eggs) and our acre (fenced) is quite suitable for pasturing ducks in daytime and housing them safely at night. And given that last summer we had goats on the shelves in our back porch and on top of our BBQ, we aren't too concerned about dealing with ducks.  {More on duck eggs in a future post}.

So we took the plunge!
The hatchery required an order minimum of three per breed (sexed, thankfully!) and we ended up with 4 breeds, three hens each and two drakes. Given the relatively few ducks in our area, selling ducklings may be a reasonable offshoot of the egg plans.
Here is what we chose:
The very prolific egg laying Khaki Campbell duck (3 hens):
Photo Credit:
The friendly and broody Cayuga Duck (3 hens + drake):
Photo Credit: Nik Mortimore via Pinterest

The Indian Runner (hilarious, right?)~ great egg layers (3 black hens):
Photo Credit:

The hardy, medium yield Buff (3 hens + drake) :
Photo Credit: McMurray Hatchery
So what do you think? ♥♥
{Not convinced? Just look at this post and fall in love!}
Saturday, 21 February 2015
We all know Sharpies are amazing.
And we all love a craft that makes use of basic supplies we are already hoarding.
(it *can't* be only me!)
{at this point, I have to tell you that this craft was the result of haphazard pinning (follow BTRT on Pinterest) ~ I saw some gorgeous Sharpie art with the erroneous comment saying it was done on canvas... so I plowed ahead and *then* actually looked at the pin... it was done on ceramic tiles! There is a big difference between ceramic tiles and canvas~ so here is our canvas version}

It is also worth noting that the canvas, being more absorbent, was probably a better choice for kids who like to doodle and add details. The canvas allows much more time, less smearing and a slower bleed when the alcohol is applied.

Age: 3+ (these markers are permanent!)
Time: 15 minutes +
Supplies Needed:
• art canvas in desired size (we had some dollar store ones in stash)
• Sharpie markers
• rubbing alcohol
• syringe, q-tips, paintbrushes, spray bottle... other applicators of your choice
• protective base in case markers bleed through onto work surface (we just laid paper under our work)

• The Sharpies on the canvas will bleed in a more controlled manner than on cotton tees or ceramic tiles.  Concentric patterns (that work out from a center point) are the most effective, especially if kept to 2-3 colours and 1-2" in size. Too many colours, or too large patterns will end up muddy and they are harder to get to bleed all the way to the edges.
• I highly recommend using one canvas to experiment with your markers and alcohol application~ different marker colours spread in different ways, and some patterns are more effective than others.
1) Once your surface is protected (and the kids, if needed), simply pass out the canvas and markers and start doodling.  Rowan made a lot of words and long designs which were less effective than her smaller patterns.
2) Once your doodles or designs are done, it is time to apply the alcohol.  It can be applied in many ways~ painted, dripped, sprayed, splattered.  We had some syringes, which were perfect for putting one drop at a time in the center of each design, working our way around the canvas.  If a pattern didn't bleed as much as we liked, we added a little more alcohol.

3) Let your canvas dry and then find a place to display your kids' creations!
Easy peasy! What our work may lack in visual appeal, it made up for in doodling fun and the 'ooohs' and 'ahs' of the alcohol application and the pride of the child in creating their own art! ♥♥
Thursday, 12 February 2015
{{Congratulations to Winner :: Lily Panyacosit!}}
Waldorf dolls are undeniably beautiful~ each so unique, warm and natural.
If you are a doll lover, a doll giver, or an aspiring doll maker, you need to know about Reggie's Dolls (if you don't already!).
Reggie's Dolls is a full service doll shop~ offering custom made dolls and doll clothing as well as everything you need to make and clothe your *own* dolly!
With a special love for helping newbie doll makers get started, Reggie has made it possible for a beginner to get everything they need from one shop~ which as an artisan, I applaud and appreciate!
Reggie, like me, is an 'Etsy old-timer'~ having begun her shop in 2007.
In 2009, she sold her coffee shop business and made Reggie's Dolls her full time work~ relishing in the personal freedom to create and work on her own schedule.
Today, she makes about 6 custom dolls a month, in addition to sewing, pattern writing and seeking out top notch supplies for her loyal customer base.
Reggie lives in Oregon, with her two adult daughter's living nearby.  Her love of sewing doll clothing began young, at the knee of her Grandmother Hila who would let Reggie play all weekend with her sewing machine. Reggie remembers going home Sunday nights smelling like Avon bubble bath and toting new dresses for her dollies.  Now she makes her living with those early skills, sometimes turning her hand to making dresses for her grown up girls (the true sign of a cool mom!).

As you browse through Reggie's Dolls, you will experience Reggie's passion for natural materials. Her virtual shelves are stocked with wool felt and soft cottons.  The coats and dresses sport shell and coconut buttons. There are patterns for shoes, dresses and tights... and coming soon? A pattern for making doll clothing with upcycled wool sweaters.
Please take the time to visit Reggie's Dolls~ but beware, you will not be able to leave without really wanting to make your own doll!
{And Reggie makes it sooo easy!}

Reggie's Dolls is offering this week's amazing giveaway!
Open to entrants worldwide.
 Cotton Dress + Wool Shawl + Wool Felt Shoes
fits 16-18" dolls
1) Like Reggie's Dolls on Facebook and comment HERE on this post that you have done so.
2) Like Beneath the Rowan Tree on Facebook and comment HERE on this post that you have done so.
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