Sarah Jane Humke

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

Those of you that haven’t been reading my blog for a long time may not know that I wasn’t always an Iowan shepherdess.  I actually have a degree in Horticulture from the University of Florida and used to be in charge of a greenhouse outside of Apopka, Florida.  I tell you all of this so that you can fully appreciate the utter depravity of what I am about to share with you.

This weekend I planted my “garden”.  I say “garden” as it’s really just eight tomato plants.  For me, this isn’t really a garden, but this year I just don’t have the time for a proper garden.  Well, I could have time for a proper garden, but I would have to quit my full-time job in order to take care of it sooooo……..  I mean, I have over seventy sheep at this point, a house to take care of, three dogs to feed and nurture, a passel of farm cats awaiting breakfast and dinner each night, not to mention the never ending laundry that comes with farming.  Something had to give, and since I’m not keen on getting rid of the dogs or forgoing hot meals, so a large and proper garden got the short straw.

Part of the reason that I was so late getting them into the ground is that I didn’t have a good place to put it.  We have a lot of shade around our house, a by-product of mature maple trees planted all around.  The areas not shaded are usually grazed-down by the sheep (What!?  They are literally nature’s lawnmowers!  If it’s good enough for the White House, it’s good enough for me!).  The area needed to get enough sun for the tomatoes, be someplace that wouldn’t be easy for the sheep to get to (or at least easy to fence around), and close enough to water.  I discarded a lot of locations for various reasons and was just sort of stuck as to where to put them.

My brother and I were born four years apart.  I came along in that sweet spot of time when a lot of aunts and friends of the family had decided that they weren’t going to have any more kids.  Thus, I had a lot of hand-me-down toys and clothes.  One of these was my swingset, which was one of those late sixties a-frame affairs that I could get the legs to lift off the ground if I swung high enough.  It is one of those things that makes you wonder how I ever survived childhood.  I mean, we had no car seats, no bicycle helmets, no sunscreen, and my crib is now probably considered a deathtrap!  Anyway, sometime between when I outgrew this little swinging guillotine and when my brother was of the age to want one, my parents upgraded to a bigger, better, more dangerous deathtrap of a swingset, now with monkey bars!  This one was concreted into the ground, so no more lift-offs, but it had it’s own set of dismembering features.  The metal edges at the top of the slide were notorious for slicing little hands on the way down and the slide itself would get blisteringly hot in the full sun.

Anyway, this set is still in the North yard of the house.  The swings long ago cracked and fell apart.  The trapeze bar blew off in some grand Iowa storm.  All that really remained is the slide and the monkey bars.  As I looked at it, I saw supports, really solid supports that are even concreted into the ground, for tomato plants.  Talked to dad about it and he thought it was a good idea too, thus was born the swingset garden.


The bread crates and random piece of metal were to protect the tender tomato seedlings from the really persistent wind that we had blowing all weekend and also to give them a break from the sun.  I found the trapeze bar and one of the swing rings down buried in the soil.  Later, dad put up some fencing to keep the sheep out when they come this direction again.

The rest of the garden is potted and is all herb plants.  I can move them out of reach of the sheep quite easily this way.


It’s not pretty, but I think it’s going to work pretty well.  However, I’m reasonably sure that somewhere there is a professor or dean at UF sighing, “We really should revoke her degree…”

One thought on “They’re Gonna Take it Away

  1. says:

    I love this one too.

    Sent from my iPad


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