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.


Getting to Know You (all over again) July 2, 2016

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Right now I am having to get to relearn my entire flock.  After shearing, all the animals look completely different.  Like, I can’t tell who they are without reading their eartags.  A few I can tell, of course.  The boys; Herbert, Greyson, and Buddy all have horns and (now) all have bells.  When we change to fresh grass, it sounds like a demented windchime being tossed in a storm.

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Buddy giving me the, “Are you really going to photograph me in the nude?!” look

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Herbert is back in jail for too many escape attempts.

But the ladies are more difficult, as many of them look very similar to one another without their big coats of wool.  One way I can tell is, ironically, by their lambs.

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Others I just have to try to read their name tags.  I really wish I had taken a photo of each sheep just prior to shearing so that you could see the shocking difference in coloring that is under those big balls of wool.

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This is Jolly.  I can tell by the coloration on her face and belly. Before shearing she was a reddish color, now she appears to be brown with a white belly.

Even the lambs are in on this color changing thing.  About half of them are starting to clearly change colors from those they were born with.  The ones born the same colors as their mama’s seem to be keeping those colors, especially the black lambs born to black ewes.  This lamb isn’t a particularly good example of this, but does show another new thing in the flock.  The lambs are now all eating grass and looking adorable as they chew their cud!

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