Sarah Jane Humke

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

Squashed! September 25, 2012

Today I went down to the Lamoni Produce Auction.  My goal was winter squash and boy did I succeed!

I put the CD in the picture to give it scale.  Otherwise the squash looked like little ornamental gourds!  These 8 butternut squash weigh from 7.5 lbs to 8.5 lbs!  Huge!!!!

On the other end of the spectrum, I got 36 of these little baby butternuts.

They average of these little ones is about 1.5 lbs a piece.  There were also a few in the middle that were around 2.5 lbs.

I realize that I haven’t spoken about the Lamoni produce auction here before.  It’s more or less what is sounds like.  A produce auction held in Lamoni, Iowa.  The interesting thing about it is that the bulk of the sellers are Amish (read the link, it’s interesting).  Thus, much of what is done is with horse and wagon and man power.  Just seeing all the wagons and horses come through is fascinating!

The auction site itself has all the modern conveniences.  Electricity, phone, internet, but it also isn’t run by the Amish themselves.  However, they do work a lot in it and are obviously on-site during the selling.  I wanted to show how the auction is run without taking pictures of any of the Amish themselves.  You see, I’m not completely sure what this group of Amish’s beliefs are as they pertain to photos.  I couldn’t find any good way to photograph this experience without getting any of the Amish in the photos.  So, I compromised. Any Amish in the following photos have had their faces obscured if they were at all visible.  There are lots of pictures of the Amish online, but these people aren’t exactly strangers to me and I sincerely don’t want to offend them.  However I really wanted to show you all this as it’s really interesting.  It’s a tricky tightrope to walk and I hope that I have done ok with it.

You can see here that the wagons pulled by the horses go through an alley of sorts.  On one side of the alley there is the auctioneer with his motley crew of assistants that sort out what is being sold, display it, and record the sales.  On the other side of the alley are the buyers placing the bids for the produce.  It’s really a pretty slick way of doing it and reminds me strongly of the Dutch flower auctions!

In this photo you can see how the big speaker is really quite close to the horses heads.  It’s amazing how patiently they wait while all this bidding is going on!

The Lamoni Produce Auction is open to the public, if you would like to take a look.  However, if you want to bid on anything, be prepared to buy in large lots as it intended for wholesale sales.  At the auction today most of the pumpkins were sold in lots between 32 and 100.  Often, the produce is sold in groups of cases, so be prepared to eat a lot of whatever you buy!  In my case, squash!


Snapshot: My Office September 21, 2012

Here at Iowa State, much like at other US universities, graduate students often get an office in which to work.  The higher of a rank of grad student that you are the more elaborate the office usually.  In my case, I actually share an office with four other people.  Two of whom I’ve yet to see.  As you can imagine, this makes for a very utilitarian office space.

I don’t want anyone to think that I am complaining.  Far from it!  I initially didn’t think that I was going to be getting a desk at all so the fact that I have this little haven on campus is fantastic!  I’ve also seen some other graduate student offices and this one is considered spacious and positively posh by the standards of that department.  To give you an idea, it was so tight in that office that in order for one person to get out of their seat, the person behind them had to scoot all the way in under their desk.  This office by comparison has lots of space, A/C, a printer, and a little tiny fridge to stash Mountain Dews in!

My desk is right by the window which I adore.  Not only is this prime houseplant position, but it also makes it easy to work without a light on.

Anyone who knows me well would be able to identify that desk as mine.  Why?

African violets on the windowsill. Mountain Dew on the desk. And sheep on top of the computer.  The subway cup ironically is not mine exactly.  I fished it out of the garbage and use it to water the violets.

Some may ask why we get offices at all.  Well, a lot of graduate students in US universities help professors teach undergraduate classes.  It is a sort of training to become professors themselves.  As such, they are required to have office hours where students can seek them out for assistance with the class.  It would be really rather unprofessional to have students meet you at your apartment or home or some random place on campus.  This is also part of the reason why doctoral candidates get better digs than we do.  Often they are actually teaching classes entirely.  Plus they are just higher up on the food chain!

I hope to do more snapshots of my life like this.  I know that a lot of people have never gotten a good look into a modern US university and have no idea what life is like in one.  So I want to share just little snapshots of what “normal” looks like from my view!



Proof September 19, 2012

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Here is the proof that I have promised many of you.


I give you… pictures of my cheerleading years!




And as an added bonus… My senior picture with me in my FFA uniform!


*The first two photos were by Kent Larson, the last was from Voss Studios.  Please forgive the quality of all of them.  They are (ahem) old and I scanned them into the computer.



A Morning Ramble Around Central Campus September 18, 2012

This is what my world looks like right now.


Making me Laugh (Canine Edition) September 17, 2012

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I keep Dog Shaming up on my computer at all times.  It’s amazing just how many different things dogs will eat!  They update it throughout the day so you can keep up with what infractions are going down at all times.

This comic by The Oatmeal made me laugh so hard the dog barked at me.  Which made me laugh harder.

Meara’s utter disdain for the AAAE regional conference proceedings that I have spent so much time today ignoring her in favor of.

What’s making you smile today?


Loom Fairy September 16, 2012

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Whenever I was at my guild meetings and I would say, usually by way of introducing myself, that I spin, knit and crochet and that I don’t weave.  At which point there was usually a chorus of “yet!” added to it.  I didn’t figure that this was really going to happen as I’m not in a position to spend hundreds of dollars on a loom, and I don’t live close enough to the guild hall to go there and use their looms easily.

However, the loom fairy had other ideas about when I was going to learn how to weave.  She was up there giggling and clapping her hands in anticipation of today…

Yep, that is a full-sized (though not as heavy as I would’ve thought) working loom in the living room of my parents house.  A friend of my mom’s needed a new home for it so it is on permanent loan to us.

Well played loom fairy, well played.


Little Surprises September 13, 2012

One of the things that is most fun about being in school again is the little surprises that you encounter on a daily basis.  Directly outside the building my office is in is what they call “central campus”.  It’s an enormous green patch with the campanile and a few trees, but mostly grass.  It was here that they held President Obama’s speech and where there are frequently concerts and the like.  I knew that today the university was having a luncheon-type thing for the installation of the newest president of the university as I had seen it in the paper.  I remembered it as there was free food (I know, I am becoming such a student!) so I wasn’t too surprised about the marquee that went up and the activity for it getting set-up.  However, when I came out of the building after finishing my lunch, I was a little surprised to see an entire pep band blaring away complete with cheerleaders, baton twirlers and a set of flag wavers cheering and playing to the crowd of very unimpressed students waiting in line for their free lunch.

One of the things that caught my attention was just how loud the cheerleaders pom-poms were.  I don’t remember them being that loud when I was a cheerleader in high school!

In completely unrelated news (to the pep squad at least) I got my hair cut this week.  It was the first week where it was consistently cool enough that I could wear my hair down and not get totally sweaty.  As I was wearing it down, I realized how long it had gotten and took measures to correct it. I was also procrastinating finishing a paper.  I also tidied my room.

Last weekend I had to fulfill one of my main duties as the Vice President of the Weavers and Spinners Guild which was have the member booklets put together by the time the meeting started on Saturday.  With some help from CopyWorks here in Ames and editing assistance from members of the board as well as some actual assembly help from them as well, they were finished.  The covers were made by another member of the guild and are just adorable.   She used actual yarn on the spindles so it came in all sorts of colors!