Sarah Jane Humke

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

Herbert Has a Come to Jesus Moment December 31, 2017

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Literally.  Baby Jesus that is.

Every year our neighbors host a live nativity at their farm.  I’ve never gotten to go to it in the past as there has always been something else going on that night.  This year they asked if they could borrow some sheep for it and I agreed.
So of course I sent Herbert, Mr. Social himself, along with a couple of the wethered lambs.  Herbert is always a crowd-pleaser and the wethered lambs are still small enough that they look like lambs.

Since I didn’t have anything going on that evening, I went to see the live nativity.  Now, most live nativities in this area simply that, usually a bunch of people in costume standing around with a bunch of animals around them.  Sometimes there’s a real baby, often it depends on how cold it is (this is Iowa after all).  There’s usually some sheep, a donkey or two, and if they go all out, a few camels (camels get crazy popular around here this time of the year!)


This wasn’t that kind of nativity.  I would actually call this a pageant.  Everyone came in and sat-down on benches in the barn.  There were singers and actors and readers and a full-on sound system.  There was a donkey that reluctantly carried Mary in on it’s back.  There was a whole flock of little angels in costume complete with tinsel halos.  There was a King Harold complete with lit-up throne.  There was a person in the rafters of the barn shining very bright flashlights on the actors as the lighting department.  There was an angel (child) that was hung-out on cables and reeled back in after saying his lines. I mean, this was a full-on production.image

It was wonderful and touching and completely homemade.  There wasn’t a touch of the commercial about it.  It was simply my neighbors with their family and friends putting on this wonderful show for the rest of the neighbors and friends and anyone who happened to drive by and see the sign.  And in the midst of all of this, were Herbert and the lambs.


You can see the sheep down below King Herod (in purple).  Sorry about the fuzzy, I didn’t really want to use a flash during a production.

The little flock did well.  The lambs were more nervous than Herbert as this was their first outing away from the farm.  Herbert, however, was his usual calm and friendly self.  The only time that he got a little nervous was when all 100 plus people in the barn started singing “Silent Night”.  He’s not exactly used to group singing as we didn’t really serenade him at the Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival last June (though that is an interesting idea….).  He received lots of head scratches after the program was over from the kids and adults that were in attendance.


If the neighbors ask to borrow the sheep next year, I think that I will try to take part a little more.  I can walk Herbert around for people to pet before hand and probably keep him on his lead so that the shepherds can “shepherd” at least one sheep in with them.  Also, I will let them borrow my shepherd’s crook, for authenticity of course.


Chugging along January 6, 2015

I know, I’ve not been on here much of late.  Alas, there hasn’t been a lot for me to write about lately.  Winter is a time to hunker down, stay warm,  and plan for spring here.

Christmas was nice.  Lots of lovely and thoughtful presents.  I got a lot of books that will hopefully help me prepare for the coming year (I would like to get a few sheep and some laying hens).  I spent a lot of time with both my family and my boyfriend’s family.

New Year’s brought specken dicken at the Ackley Civic Center and colder weather.  No big parties or fancy nights out. That’s not really how I roll:-)

This past week I’ve been doing a big cleaning and rearranging.  Trying to make my space more useable and pleasing to be in.

I did, in fact, finish a bunch of knitted items before Christmas.  One, in particular, I am especially proud of.  I finished a pair of socks for the boyfriend made from hand-spun, 4-ply sock yarn.

Joel's Socks
This is a 80% Merino, 10% Cashmere, & 10% Nylon blend that was custom dyed for me by Diane Pals of Bugsnugger.  It’s a lovely blend that I took my time spinning.  I have more yarn like this and I will probably be knitting another pair of socks from it but they will hopefully go to the Iowa State Fair before going to their final home.

I also knit a pair of “normal” socks out of Kroy and Opal.Joel's Socks 2  I used the red Opal to finish off the socks as there wasn’t enough of the Kroy in the 100 grams for a pair of size 12 mens socks.

Here are the socks together:

Joel's Socks 3

There was also a scarf for my mother made from some of the ruffle yarns as well as an infinity scarf from Debbie Bliss Angel for my sister-in-law.  There were also another pair of socks for my boyfriend’s mother.  So, I was fairly busy in the days leading up to Christmas!



8 seconds January 16, 2014

There are days that I feel like I’m on a treadmill and then there are days that feel as though I am on an elliptical machine. In my universe, an elliptical machine is the devil.  Probably invented sometime during the Spanish inquisition by the same man who invented panty hose, SPSS, and stiletto heels.  I cannot use these machines at all.  I have tried two times and the second time I was asked to please leave the gym I was trial membershiping and not come back. I somehow fell off the elliptical  backwards and nearly took out a woman on a machine behind me. This is what happens when I am on one.  It’s like my feet and hands and the machine all work really effectively against one another in order to get me off of it as quickly as possible.  Seriously, I think I would have better luck bull riding than I do exercising on one of these machines (bull riding you only need to stay on for eight seconds!).  Anyway, that is a long winded way of saying that it’s been a little nutso of late and sometimes I feel as though I’ve gotten thrown on my ass in gym full of people.

First off, I finally finished some socks that I started over a year ago.  I worked on these socks in my Psych 230 class (that I thoroughly enjoyed despite myself) but messed-up the toes and had afterthought heels planned that I never got done.  Since I was already ripping them back, I took them all the way back to the heel spots, put in traditional heels and reknit the feet and toes(correctly).  I realized how many socks I had under my belt from the time that I started knitting this particular pair until I (ahem) finished knitting them.  It’s interesting to me how things like Kitchener stitching the toes and turning the heels has really become something kinda second nature to me now.  Anyway, these turned out really nicely and very nearly identical despite, well, everything!


I also mailed off some (very late) Christmas packages.  I know that this might sound odd, but I honestly prefer to get packages late as it extends the surprise and the number of days that you get to open packages!  I LOVE opening packages!!!!  Anyway, I thought I would share with you how I apply postage to the USPS flat rate boxes.  These two boxes are both the medium size and currently cost $12.35 to mail anywhere in the Continental United States.  I usually start off with a few higher denomination stamps, but the rest are generally valued at around $.05.  I have some as low as $.005 (yes, one-half of a cent of postage. Even the postal workers stopped at that one.) and a few in the $.30 range.   But a lot (and I mean a LOT) are in the $.03, $.04, and $.05 range.  The reason for this is simple.    There used to be a lot more stamp collectors than there are currently.  Many of them are dying or no longer collecting and their collections aren’t worth any more than the postage that the stamps are worth.  However, most people don’t want to fool around with six stamps just to mail one letter, so when sold on ebay or other websites, go for less than full face value for perfectly good postage.  Some of the stamps that I am using are from the 1930’s and 1940’s.  Most are newer, a lot from the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Still, the bulk of the stamps on these packages are older than I am.  Both of them have the same general theme; Old, dead, (mostly) white men.  One went to Alabama, so it got some Civil War stamps thrown into the mix (I thought that it still fit the overall theme!).  When I was mailing off Christmas boxes that were going to be reasonably on time I used a general theme of Christmas Stamps.  It was very festive in a USPS kind of way (which, really, is kind of an awesome kind of way!).



I received an early birthday present from my roommate Elise this week.  I have been eyeing these sheets for months and when I finally made up my mind to buy them at the store, they were out.  She was there and they had them back in stock and she got them and gave them to me right away because it’s bloody freezing in my room and they seem like a good idea in January.


Anytime you can snuggle down in a bed made-up in flannel sheets covered in dogs wearing clothing and a heated mattress pad, you know that you are on the right side of any battle that the world may throw at you the next day.  Plus, bonus cute knitting project bag that the sheets came in!


Speaking of birthday presents, I made one for Elise’s birthday on Monday.  Since she saw me knitting it and had requested it specifically (and it’s cold outside) I gave it to her a few days early.  It is a “Jayne Hat” inspired by the one worn on the short-lived Sci-Fi show Firefly by one of the characters.  I used three shades of Vanna’s Choice that seemed to be there best representation of the colors on our TV screen.  The exact colors used are here in my Ravelry page as well as the actual pattern I used.  It was an easy knit and fast.  I’ve gotten used to making things out of fingering weight yarns so knitting something out of worsted felt as though it was just falling off the needles!


Another knitting project I made was a pair of thrummed mittens.  These were made in response to the news of the impending polar vortex to descend upon our little piece of heaven here in Iowa.  I actually managed to get them finished prior to the big chill actually getting here, so that was actually a new feeling for me!  Once again, knitted in worsted weight wool, these just flew.  They are far from perfect and if I made them again I would make them a little bigger (like one more completion of the thrumming round) but they work and work well at keeping my hands warm which was the whole purpose.  Details of the pattern and materials are here on my Ravelry page.  I’ve had so much fun showing them to people and then turning them inside out and explaining that they are like Uggs for your hands:-)  I know, I’m easily amused.

This was my whole outfit to take the dogs out during the worst of the polar vortex.

If I had been a good girl and updating like I should be, these would have all been a separate post.  But I am naughty and haven’t been.  Though I really need to write more here.  I am doing a lot of academic writing which I sometimes feel as though it is killing my natural writing voice.  Academic writing is extremely dry and formulaic.  I feel that it was designed for people who are not very good writers to be able to get information about their study (or whatever they want to talk about) out without exposing that they suck at writing.  I’m not saying that I am a Neil Gaiman of blogging or anything like that, but I can at least (generally) communicate what I am trying to say.  Often in academic writing, the language is very dense and obscure and there is a ham-fisted approach to using big words in order to camouflage the fact that there is little or no real results from the study (or whatever) that the author is writing about.  It seems to be elitist and it’s no wonder that people who are not in academia often misinterpret what these papers mean.  There’s a whole ethical discussion that I could get into about this (we are supposed to be doing research for the good of the state/nation/world but we often don’t put our results in a language that a lay person could read and understand) but in short it hurts my brain to write too much of it at one go.  I understand that results need to be in a format of sorts, but does is really need to be this????

Also, I start saying things like, “My personal self-efficacy belief as to my ability to maintain ownership of my animal-based fiber headcovering has quickly plummeted.”  That was in response to losing my wool hat.  Seriously.


Make do With What’s on Hand July 12, 2013

So, today I nearly finished my most recent monkeys, but I had left my sewing-up needle at home.  However, I really wanted to get the almost completed monkeys off the needles so I could cast on another pair.  What to do?

So, I thought about what I had around me.  I was at the ISU agricultural mechanics shop out at the 450 farm.  So, I procured a couple of little pieces of leftover  mig  welding wire, transferred the stitches onto them, and voila! Rough and ready stitch holders!

Make 1

The rest of the sock isn’t visible as this pair will be a future gift for someone who might actually read this.  Yes, I am working on the Christmas presents already! 🙂  If you want to see them, pictures are available on my Ravelry page.

However, I have started on another pair, this time for me, thus I can show them to you!

Make 2

And this is one day later!

And this is one day later!


I’m totally adoring that green, grey and teal together. Can’t wait to wear these!!!


The End is Near April 27, 2012

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I feel like I’ve been working on this blanket for little Matthew forever, even if it really hasn’t been all that long.  It’s just that it’s, well, boring.  With my normal scrapghans, I can change color whenever I feel like it, thus alleviating the boredom of non-stop half-double crochets.  However, with this blanket, there’s no such relief valve.  It’s either Hot Red or Bright Yellow 24/7 and it’s making me want to rip my eyes out.  However, I have decided that the end is neigh for this unholy blanket of boredom!  I am adding one more yellow stripe to it and then it’s going to get another thick red end and I am done with the hooking.  However, I hope that I can still find the fabric to be sewn onto one side of it.  I put it back into my storage unit when I decided to frog it a few months ago.


Anyway, it is going to be done and done one way or another by the end of next week.  I am declaring it so!

In other news…  Miss Sweetie Pie is back from her big visit to the vet to become a grown-up cat.  Which, in case you didn’t know, in the case of a female cat is called a Queen.  So, I guess you could say that her crown has been taken?  However you want to say it, she has been spayed and is recovering nicely.  She spent a night at the vets and was quite ready to come home today.  She’s moving slowly, but doesn’t seem to be in any pain and the stitches are the dissolving kind, so all that’s left is to keep an eye on her for a few days.

One thing that is amusing is that she is clearly annoyed with the shaved part of her tummy.  Each time she seems to get fixated on it I keep telling her it’s her, “Summer Haircut”

She’s not buying it.


The Surprise January 26, 2012

After having a pretty rough week today I got the nicest surprise in the world.  It was a Christmas/Birthday package from my friend Barbro in Finland with all sorts of lovely goodies in it for me!

There were these awesome wrist warmers (which I put to use as soon as I took the picture of them!).

There was an awesome pair of socks which fit perfectly!

There were yarns!

There were even BUGS!!!!!

There was a beautiful project bag.

And a scarf knit from handspun yarn, with a skein of the same yarn!

There was a tiny mitten keychain so little it barely fits on my thumb!

There was 2 different chocolate bars along with a package of tiny dog themed buttons, a hand painted heart ornament, a ceramic fox button and a little tractor themed pot watcher!

This one is white chocolate and blueberries!

Near the bottom of the box there was an amazing kit from Riihivilla yarns.  This is a Finnish yarn company that specializes in using Finn sheep wool and using only natural dyes to dye it.  I bought a skein of their sock yarn when I was in Helsinki with Malin a couple of years ago and it is lovely, lovely yarn.  (BTW, the instructions are both in English and in Finnish in case you were wondering!)

And the thing that my mom tried to claim for her own (but I didn’t let her) is an amazing shawl.  The pattern is the Red Dragon Shawl by Tuulia Salmela.  You can find more information about it on Barbro’s Ravelry page about it.

I already want to make one.  Mom really wants me to make one!

Thank you Barbro.  It couldn’t have been more perfectly timed!


Christmas Babies December 25, 2011

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One of my brother’s nanny goats had twin kids either last night or this morning.  I haven’t gotten to see them together yet and I didn’t get a good picture of either one of them as I didn’t want to freak their momma out any more than I already had.  I’m sure that y’all will get to see lots more of these two (and the many more that are on the way!) in the next few weeks.

This little guy was out and wandering around in the sunshiney Christmas day!

His brother or sister is wisely cuddled-up in the "baby barrel". This gives the really little ones a place to go that is safe from all the bigger goats.

It's really hard to be this freaking cute!


Merry Christmas from the farm!