Sarah Jane Humke

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

The Return of the Rental Ram January 7, 2018

Technically, he was a leased ram, but rental ram just has a sound to it doesn’t it?

The rental ram in question is the same one that I used last year, the lovely Nuuk from Sommarang Farm.  He won Yearling Ram at this years MSSBA show at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival.  Last year he was just a ram lamb and I was a little, um, dubious as to if he was up to the job of taking care of my ladies, but he did just fine.  This year, as a full-grown ram, there was no question from the get-go as to his ability to handle the job he was being hired for.

I picked Nuuk up at the beginning of December and I returned him this weekend in the back of my Honda Fit.  It’s about a four-hour drive from here in Iowa to his home in Wisconsin.  This year I took Dusty with me to keep me company, so this was my company driving up there.

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Yep, two snoozing boys.  I think that Nuuk was just worn-out from his job the past month combined with the warm car and he was out for most of the trip like a light.  Dusty is usually out like a light in the car so long as he doesn’t think that we are going to the vet.

Most of the time my view was something like this:

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Not the most exciting landscape, especially in the winter.  But Wisconsin still yields great barn watching opportunities and it was a pretty nice, though cold, day to be driving up there.

On the way home I always try to stop at The Cat and Crow in Mt. Horeb, WI.

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It is such a lovely shop to peruse.  The ladies that run it are just lovely to talk to and they really do a great job of supplying locally produced yarns and fibers.  If you are ever in the area, I strongly suggest that you stop by and check out their wonderfully curated selection!

 

 

 

Settling In June 9, 2015

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The last couple of weeks have been all about learning about and getting used-to the new members of the farm. The sheep are getting not only used to us, the humans,  but also to the other animals.  They are fascinated by the farm cats and will start a small stampede following one of the poor nervous felines right up to the fence!  Dusty, my little fuzzy white dog makes them all pause and investigate as well much to his discomfort.  If I sit down, often they will come right up to me and sniff my neck and nibble my hair, which I take as a compliment.

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The flock is remarkably quiet.  Everyone on the farm knows if someone has gotten out of the fence because one of the girls just goes nuts.  She has a high-pitched bah and if the flock was a high school class then the noisy one would be that one girl who always (loudly) said, “Hey! You aren’t supposed to be doing that! Wait for me! Wait for me! I’ll tell if you don’t wait for me!!!”  But honestly, that is about the only time that they make a noise other than chewing (they are loud chewers) or belching (ditto).

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Memorial day was all about worming and vaccinating.  I didn’t take any pictures.  You’re welcome.  We also moved the flock which didn’t go all that well (ahem).  Shetlands aren’t one of the strongest flocking sheep breeds around.  Plus most of these are young ewes.  All in all you have a recipe for some cabbage in the garden to be eaten!  We probably shouldn’t have tried to move them when we were tired from all the vaccinations and worming fun and they were all keyed-up from being vaccinated and wormed.  Lesson learned.

set 3set 4However, we do have a flock leader now.  Her name is Abigail and she can be by turns both amazingly easy to work with and a complete brat.  We’re still working out the kinks in the relationship:-) Only a handful of the sheep have names at this point.  Buddy, the big black wether, Abigail, Herbert (his scrapie tag is 1938, during the Great Depression [though I know not during Hoover’s administration, but he looks like a Herbert too]), and Liberty.  Her scrapie tag is 1976.

Miss Abigail being good.

Miss Abigail being good.

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Abigail and Herbert.

The sheep are amazingly good at keeping the lawn mowed and seem to relish their job.  They are also insanely curious about the chicken flock who have been moved to temporary outdoor quarters with the sheep (electric fencing and jealous wethers are added protection from the ravenous raccoons we have around here).  So far our county hasn’t been hit with the avian flu so we are keeping our fingers crossed that we can keep these girls alive since the cost of eggs has skyrocketed already.

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Slacking* March 29, 2015

Spring is usually busy, but this year is even more so than usual for me.  First up, it was my brand new niece’s baptism last weekend.  I decided to make her a Christening Shawl/blanket for the event.  I then decided that it should really be hand-spun Shetland laceweight.  With wool from Shetland of course!  Well, I’m sure that you all can see exactly where this is going…

I ended-up finishing casting-off at around four o’clock on the Saturday before.  I blocked it on my bed that evening.

slacking 4Luckily it was one of those super easy things to block and all I had to do was kind of pat it into place and let it dry for a bit.  I have a heated bed so that helped to move things along a bit:-)  It was dry and ready for the baptism that morning.

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Thanks to my SIL for taking this photo. I wasn’t able to take many photos with my niece IN the blanket as I was supremely busy that day with the lunch for the family after church.

I was amused by two facts during the baptismal sermon.  First, I’m not in church all that often and that Sunday I was sitting in the front row of a pretty full church.  The second was this:

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Yep, the whole sermon was about sheep and goats:-)

For those interested, the shawl/blanket is a strongly adapted version of a traditional Shetland Christening shawl pattern.  I skipped the edging and added a picot cast-off in its place.  The yarn was spun from about 284 grams of the Jaimeson and Smith Shetland Supreme combed roving.

I just happened to finish it when I was helping out my friends Ellen and Wanda at their booth for their shop Fiber Curio and Sundries at Fiberpalooza in Winterset, Iowa on Saturday.  I took absolutely zero photos as my hands were busy the entire day long either setting up or knitting the shawl.  However, it was a really fun event to both attend and sell at and I had a good, though very long, day.

Thursday and Friday were involved in the final classes for my Annie’s Project course.   I think that now is a good time to share with you what the business I was taking this business planning class for is.  I am getting sheep.  Or to be quite precise, I am getting about 20 or so Shetland ewes.  It’s a bit of long story, and I’m not a hundred percent sure that all the parties would like me to share it, but I can say that it’s kind of one of those things where karma has come full circle.  I have booked my flights out to Montana where the sheep currently reside and will drive back with them.  So there is a lot to do on the ground here to prepare for them.  Fencing for one.  These ladies have not been in fences a lot in their lives, which could be either a good or a bad thing.  Currently I am working on an area that will be somewhat permanently fenced for when they first get here and probably for parts of the winter as well.  I am going to purchase some electric netting so that I can move them around and graze the different areas of the farm and keep the grass and weeds down.

This is honestly, a kind of dream come true for me as I have wanted some ever since I visited the islands in 2010.  I adore their wool, I find the sheep to be appealing in their durability and size and I enjoy the variety of colors that they come in.  I have hesitated to write about it here as I wasn’t sure that it was really going to come to fruition.  But now with plane tickets booked (thank you frequent flier miles!) and making plans for fences and trying to find a livestock guardian animal, it is all starting to feel very, very real.  If anyone knows of someone looking to re-home a donkey in the Iowa area, please let me know.

Dusty got “sheared” one of our warmer days.  It wasn’t a perfect job as he wanted to chase cats and I didn’t want him to chase them but it worked out ok.

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Before: “Look at those cats making fun of me!  Must chase them!!!!!”

See what I mean by "shearing"?

See what I mean by “shearing”?

After

After: “The cats are laughing at me.”

I would have saved it to spin had I given Dusty a bath prior to his spring shearing.

I would have saved it to spin had I given Dusty a bath prior to his spring shearing.

I’ve been destashing a lot of mini skeins of sock yarn on Ravelry.  If you are interested (and the link doesn’t work) just go to the group “Mini Mall” and the thread called “Random Sets”.  I still have a lot of sets available and am willing to mail wherever you want in the world (with a few small exceptions:-).

On top of all of this has been seed starting and garden planning (in that order, it doesn’t always go in the order it should have you know!).  This year we are having a fifty foot by seventy-five foot garden.  Should be exciting!

Oh, and I got a full-time job finally.  I start in April and it will involve a lot more commuting than I am used to.

*For the irony impaired, I haven’t been slacking.  Quite honestly I’ve been as busy as a one-armed paper hanger!!!

 

Random randomness. June 2, 2013

Random has been sort of my catchword of late.  It feels as though my life has become a host of things unrelated to one another except through me.  I could make a concept map to explain this, but I’ll save y’all the horror:-)

I’ve not posted here in a while.  Partially this is because, quite frankly, I was tired of writing.  I write a lot in grad school and by the time I make it home, all I want to do was sit and watch something that didn’t tax my brain powers at all and have dinner.  And knit or crochet, of course. This makes all forms of communication other than texting (short and usually grammatically incorrect, thus fits into the stupid qualifications) rather difficult to find the motivation to engage in.

There were also other things going on that were really too sad to talk about for a while.  My lovely Meara died quite unexpectedly in the middle of December.  This threw me for a lot longer than I even realized.  It may be corny to mourn a dog, but she had been my nearly constant companion for over a decade.

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School got a lot harder this past semester than it had been the previous two.  More graduate level classes as well as T.A.’ing a class that was pretty time intensive.

I have been knitting. Lots of socks:

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These are my “Eye of Jupiter” socks. I used the vanilla pattern from the Yarn Harlot and the yarn I dyed last semester at a Workspace class. They are inspired by the “Eye of Jupiter” paintings that Starbuck painted on BSG.

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Yes, these are my first Monkeys. Knitted mostly on the way to and back from Columbus, Ohio for a conference. Done in Socks that Rock lightweight, unknown colorway (mill-ends grab-bag).

This is how I roll when being driven:-)

This is how I roll when being driven:-)

It wasn’t all socks, there were shawls:

Damask by Kitman Figueroa knitted in Swans Island Pure Blends Collection in Seasmoke.

Damask by Kitman Figueroa knitted in Swans Island Pure Blends Collection in Seasmoke.

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There was a LOT of sock yarn blanket work done! I’m actually running into a real threat of running out of unique sock yarn leftovers! Hence the reason I am suddenly feeling the urge to actually knit socks! I have a lot of sock yarn, but a lot of it is really nice stuff that needs to get knitted into something else and have leftovers used rather than just instantly becoming labeled “leftovers”.  If anyone has any little balls of leftover sock yarn, I will certainly take them off your hands.  I also have a lot of “mini-skeins” that I am willing to trade for new yarns. Just give me a shout!

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Photo taken this afternoon. Trust me, it is a fair bit larger than it was in the first photo!

Photo taken this afternoon. Trust me, it is a fair bit larger than it was in the first photo!

Of course there were baby goats too!  This was a set of twins born to a doe not really interested in them. When I put these photos on Facebook I said,  “You know that you are at an Ag University when this is your Saturday night…”  So, so true! Both of them ended-up in good homes and are happy and healthy (no, I did not keep them long-term in my house. They were there for a weekend!)

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Amongst all of this, I actually did some school work! One of my favorite assignments this past semester was a presentation I did for a technology class on how to incorporate Ravelry into the classroom. I had fun making the display:-)

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Yep, that’s the sockyarn blanket, project bags from various Ravelry meetups, and mini skeins of sockyarn!

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I’m wearing buttons from various meetings and events I have attended. There is also a “concept map” about fiber in the background that I made for another class.

My brother got married in April and he and his fiance (now wife, obviously) decided to do it in St. Marteen. At an all-inclusive resort. Yay!

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Seriously, this was taken in the middle of the day with no editing. That was what the sea looked like from our hotel!

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Happy, happy!

There was a visit to the farm by my roommates dog, Dusty (so NOT a farm dog:-))

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A poster abstract I had submitted got accepted to a national conference. Thus the trip to Columbus, Ohio a couple of weeks ago.

Most of the ISU group at the AAAE National Conference.

Most of the ISU group at the AAAE National Conference.

This was the row of Iowa State posters. We took up an entire row. I'm not sure that any other school did that:-)

This was the row of Iowa State posters. We took up an entire row. I’m not sure that any other school did that:-)

My poster. It was about an energy workshop held for teachers.

My poster. It was about an energy workshop held for teachers.

I even had to go out and get a suit for this conference! Haven't had to look "professional" in a long time!

I even had to go out and get a suit for this conference! Haven’t had to look “professional” in a long time!

This week I found a sewing machine at the side of the road waiting to be hauled away by the garbage collectors. I couldn’t let it happen just for the cabinet alone!

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There is a little spot in the cabinet where you can slide the foot peddle into it and there is a lever that opens out so that you can control it with your knee!

It’s an antique Necchi, which when I did a little research, I found out is an Italian brand that was really mostly known for their industrial machines, but that they also made really excellent machines for the home as well. These still go for $100’s of dollars in working condition, which this one is. They are known as very tough machines.  Yay for me being a garbage hound!  I did replace the power cord, as the one on it looked like it had been melted time and again and made me very nervous.

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So that is a really brief synopsis of what has been going on in my life.  Of course there is a lot that I have left out.  Like how many times I fell on my arse this very long and very snowy winter (a lot). Or how many pages of papers I graded (many hundreds, if not low thousands). Or how many text messages I’ve sent and received (ummmm, don’t want to talk about that….). It’s been busy, but I am hopeful that the summer will allow time for more blogging again.