Sarah Jane Humke

The life of a traveling, reading, writing, spining and knitting shepherdess.

Heartbroken February 28, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 9:16 pm
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There are times that being a farmer really sucks.  No, strike that, when being a human really sucks.  Those times that make you realize that life is way to short and way to precious and can be taken from you in an instant.  This is one of those times for me.  You see, early this afternoon Red died.  It was extraordinarily sudden, even for a young animal.  At morning feeding she was her normal loud, hungry and insistent self and by noon she was seriously ill and shortly after she died.

I never thought that I would fall in love with a goat.





Edited to Add:

The vet decided that Red died from Enterotoxemia or “Overeating Disease”.  It was unusual that a kid as old as she was succumbed to it as this tends to be a disease of very young kids and lambs.  There is some great information here about it.  The rest of the kids are being vaccinated against it make sure that none of them die as well.  Red had gone to the vet on a prior occasion for diarrhea several weeks ago but had not had any symptoms right up until her death.


Underground February 25, 2012

Sorry for the radio silence of late.  The job has finally kicked into gear and I was out and about most of last week.  Also, my apartment in Ames is partially underground.  I don’t know if this is the reason that the internet has been slow for the past few days or if there is just some dork trying to download porn ahead of me or something, but it has been twitchy enough that just getting my emails has been a challenge some days let alone posting a big, long blog post!

So when I got back to the farm Friday I had a fun pile of mail waiting for me.  Most of it was too banal for you my dear readers, but there was one piece that I thought that y’all should have a look at because it is beautiful.  It was a lovely birthday present from Jon at Easyknits.

It is the first edition of his Spin Love fiber club.  Isn’t it lovely?!?!?  Honestly, I don’t think that I will ever be a good enough photographer to be able to capture these colors with all the intensity they possess.   Both of the braids are 100% New Zealand Polworth wool and are soft and squishy.  I am really looking forward to spinning these, though I feel I should really come up with aplan for them first!

My little Traveler wheel is going to be getting some more miles put on it in the next few weeks as I plan on taking it back and forth with me to Ames.  I don’t have a lot to do there at night since I don’t really know anyone in town anymore so I can see me getting alot of spinning and knitting done in the next few months!

In other news, I have ordered new glasses and contacts for the first time in a few years this past week.  I’ve needed to do this for a while now, but I wanted to wait until I had a regular paycheck coming in before I got them.  I’ve not worn contacts regularly for the past several years (read 10+) so the options out there have really changed a lot!  I guess this means that I will have to start paying more attention to my eyebrows than I do now as my current glasses more or less completely obscure them from sight!


As If February 22, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 7:11 pm
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However, kudos to Hy-Vee for having actual fortunes in their fortune cookies.


Philatelic Tendancies February 17, 2012

I’ve written here before about my love of writing letters to people.  You know, real letters, with stationery and envelopes and stamps.  I often try to do a theme with the letter, matching the stationery to some stickers on the envelope and, if possible, to the postage stamps on the outside.  Because of this, I have a fair number of stamps.

I’m not a stamp collector as I actually use the stamps that I buy as postage.  Eventually.

I have stamps going back to the late 90’s in my stash and because of this  I often need smaller denominational stamps in order to make-up the difference in postage rates.  So when I saw a lot of unused US postage stamps on eBay I bid and won them, not knowing how much actual postage was on them.

Yesterday a little envelope with a smaller glassine envelope inside arrived with these inside it!

The majority of the stamps were around 4 or 5 cents but it was the breadth of  topics that they covered that nearly took my breath away!  Here are a few examples:

The American Woman (1960)

This stamps says around the picture of the woman and girl: Civic Affairs, Education, Arts and Industry.

Finland Independence 1917-67 (1967)

During the cold war, Finland was a very important ally for the United States.  Who better to know how to deal with the Soviets than a country that shares a border with them that has managed not to get taken over by them.  And who better to get Finnish stamps than an American who has Finnish friends!

The Homestead Act (1962)

The artwork on this one is pretty amazing in my eye.  Here they have put a sod house on a stamp, something that is truly not all that sexy, and have still managed to portray the spirit of independence of the people in front of it.

Antarctic Treaty (1971)

Apparently this so captured the US postal services imagination that they made another one in 1991 to celebrate 30 years!

National Parks Centennial (1972)

The engraved artwork on these stamps is absolutely amazing.  It’s difficult to see, but there are 2 elk in the foreground and the details of the mountain itself are spectacular.

Humane Treatment of Animals (1966)

This stamp was issued to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the ASPCA here in the US.  The saucy looking dog on the front was a mutt owned by the artist, Norman Todhunter.

Rural America (1973)

I love that they put “Angus Cattle” at the bottom of the stamp.  I also really digging just how fierce they made that bull look.  This is not a “normal” picture of cattle at all as there is no placidity in either his pose or his physical stature.

Emily Dickinson (1971)

Plant for a more Beautiful America (1966)

Just such lovely artwork!  Plus, the planting theme makes my horti soul sing!

Family Planning (1972)

Imagine my surprise when I saw this in my pile of stamps!  This is a stamp about family planning from 1972!!!  And we still have a panel of men sitting in Congress talking about this in 2012??  Really??

Now this last one is actually going to get framed.

America’s Wool (1971)

What a great stamp!!!  It has me thinking about Christmas gift ideas.  (Yeah, I know I just made you throw-up a little with that statement.  Sorry!)


Doing it the Finnish Way! February 14, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 7:51 am
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Valentine’s Day is a holiday pretty much designed to make at least half of the adult population of the United States feel grumpy.  There is not a holiday that I have essentially said “Bah Humbug!”  to more.  I was single for a good long chunk before I was married and each v-day seemed to come around on a particularly non-dating patch in my life.  I’ve had anti Valentine’s parties where everyone was supposed to wear black, I’ve had “fuck it! No one else is gonna buy me flowers and dinner!” nights where I bought myself flowers that I wanted (hint: it is so not roses. As part of the horticulture industry I know all too well how these flowers are handled up to the big day and why they seem to last all of 15 minutes after you get them. But that’s an entire other blog post…) and had a romantic dinner alone.  I’ve completely ignored the day acting as though it didn’t exist at all and have had a few where the other person and I sort of half-assed it with a card or something and candles at dinner.

However, last year I ended-up spending Valentine’s day in Finland with Malin.  I really felt badly about taking her away from her (then) boyfriend on this big romantic holiday until she explained something to me.  In Finland, Valentine’s Day is about friendship not romantic love-dovey crap.  I wanted to move to Finland right then and there.  Finally a country that gets it!  And gets it RIGHT!  I mean, isn’t friendship the basis of love?  If you are in a romantic relationship with someone, shouldn’t they be a friend first and foremost?  And if there is one thing that I have learned in the past year is that friends are so very important in our lives.  In some ways, much more important than the romantic relationships that we enter into.  Having friends that have your back no matter what is so much more important than having someone to date.  I wish that I had understood this when I was in my 20’s.  It would have made my life a lot easier.

So this year and from now on out, I am declaring this.  Valentine’s Day, for me, is going to be all about celebrating the friendships in my life.  Fuck the candy. Compost the roses. Give Mr T the jewelry. Drink the champagne with your friends and let them all know just how much they mean to you.*

So Happy Valentine’s Day!  Celebrate the Finnish way, which might also involve some vodka…

*I’m not going to diss cards because A.) I love greeting cards with a passion that borders on the insane and B.) there are lots of non-romantic Valentine’s Day cards available and they may be a really good way to tell your friend that you love and appreciate them.  In a friend way, of course.  Unless you love-love them, in which case you need to just sack-up and tell them to their face, ok?  That would be an inappropriate use of greeting card technology.  Even if you use one of the recordable greeting cards.


Spinning Allison February 10, 2012

A few weeks ago I went to the care facility in Allison, Iowa to do a spinning demonstration.  My mom usually goes to this particular care center and gives little talks about the places she has gone to and brings pictures and stuff like that, so I had been here before and kind-of knew the drill already.  Usually it’s between 10 and 15 people who show up and it usually lasts around 30 minutes or so.  So when asked if I would do a demo with my wheel, I figured it would be about that many people and last about that long.

You know what they say about assuming things don’t you??

I had closer to 30 people show up for my demonstration.  I wished desperately that I had done a little more prep for it so I would have known how long spinning wheels had been around and how fast the fastest hand spinner is.  But all in all, I think it went quite well.  As is normal, the guys that attended (and I had more than one!) were most interested in the mechanics of the wheel and the physics behind how wool is turned into yarn.  They asked a lot of really quite good questions about why my wheel doesn’t look like the wheels that they have seen in the past and about where it came from and who made it and how old it was.  The ladies of the group were generally more interested in the fibers that I could spin as I had taken a bunch of samples of different spinning fibers to pass around. The most fascinating one for the group at large was the puff of recycled pop bottles that I passed around.  One of the ladies had brought some lovely colorwork sweaters that an aunt of hers from Norway had knit which were absolutely beautiful and over 50 years old at this point!  Anyway, by the end of it, I had spoken for nearly an hour and I stayed after a little bit to answer some more detailed questions, so I was there for at least an hour and a half by the end of it just talking about spinning and sheep.

One of the people who works at the center was kind enough to take some pictures of me.  Remember, I’m giving a talk and spinning at the same time (I don’t usually talk and spin that much as I’m normally alone when I’m doing it) so there was definitely no posing for these pictures!

I spun a single first to give them an idea of what that looked like at the beginning of the talk.  Towards the end I plied the single that I had spun with  one I had spun previously so that they could get an idea of what plying looks like as well.  When I was done, I left the sample of yarn there so that the residents could have a chance to look at it more closely when they had time.

This was the first spinning demonstration that I had given to a non-spinning audience and I think it went pretty well.  I had a lot of fun and I kind of impressed myself a few times with just how much I knew about my wheel and it’s construction.  I hope to do more of these in the future to wider audiences around this area.  There are a great many historical sites and societies around so perhaps I need to learn how to spin in a corset?  That could be interesting… Ye Olde Spinning Sarah!


Lucky Woman February 9, 2012

So yesterday I got yet another birthday package in the mail!  It was from my friend Sarah who lives in Chicago with her 2 adorable (and very active) children and her husband and it contained goodies inside for me!

There was a TON of cotton yarn!

Oddly enough, that is a kings ransom worth of dishcloth cotton in some parts of Europe.  They just don’t have something all that similar.  Anyway, the center ball that has a slightly different label?  It’s SCENTED!  For real!  It smells like lavender.

Anyway, Sarah knows that I love to make dishcloths, especially when I’m traveling so this was an extremely thoughtful gift.

Also enclosed in the package as a lovely birthday card and a Jimmy John’s gift card.  When I would be visiting from England, Jimmy John’s was one of the first places that I would make Sarah take me!  Since I am going to be living part-time in Ames, where they have one, I have a feeling that the gift card is going to be used-up with the quickness!

Thank you so much Sarah!