Sarah Jane Humke

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

Countdown May 2, 2015

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In less than a week I will be flying out to Montana to get a flock of sheep.  I have not had a lot of spare time to write here of late as I have started the new job and it is taking even more of my time than I thought it would. It is good to have some money coming in but it would also be nice to have a little more time to get things done around here.

I have also been trying to get things ready for the incoming sheep.  This means, of course, fencing.  I have put up a semi-permanent paddock for them with cattle panels and t-posts.  I am also getting some electric netting that I will use to move them around the farmstead soon.  This way they will be able to graze all around the farm for shorter periods of time.

Oh, and did I mention the garden????……………..


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.

dlsvkrt 11

slacking 7

slacker 8

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:

slacking 5

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.


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: “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!!!


Farm Report May 19, 2012

I know that I haven’t been on here very much of late.  A lot of this is due to the aforementioned work + travel.  Some of it is because it is spring and that means GARDENING!!!!  I’ve not been able to have much of a garden for a few years now and I never really got the hang of gardening in Florida (the seasons were backward, instead of being too cold it was often too hot, etc., etc.)  Anyway, I am glad to be back in a place where I understand what the seasons are doing and know when to plant things.  Thus far we’ve planted: A lot of onion bulbs, radishes, beets, 8 cabbage plants, a lot of potatoes, 28 tomato plants and 10 pepper plants.  Still to be put into the ground is: 3 kinds of winter squash, zucchini, lettuce, strawberry plants, lots more onions (I went a little crazy buying them!), some more tomato plants (ditto), some more peppers plants, sweet corn, pole beans, bush green beans (we really like green beans), pumpkins and maybe some gourds (not sure about them yet).  A lot of the viney and large plants like the zucchini, squashes and pumpkins aren’t going to be planted in the “garden”.  They tend to take things over and make a big headache for everyone.  So instead, they are going to have mounds made in various places around the farm (including by the ditch near the road) where we will plant them and let them grow to their little hearts content.  Our main worry has been, will a raccoon find this tasty?  If yes, it needs to go in the garden at the front of the house, if no, it can go in the back 40.

The old board is there because that was a particularly muddy spot under the mulch for a while. No big horticultural secret or anything.

The pots contain herbs for the most part (with the exception of some geraniums [I LOVE geraniums!]).

Do you have any idea of how hard it is to take pictures of onion plants? Not the most photogenic plants in the world, especially when mulched liberally!

We’ve planted a LOT of tomatoes of many different varieties, some of which are heirlooms tomatoes. However, the bulk of them are Roma or Roma type tomatoes.

My mint boxes.

We’ve also had a second explosion of baby goats!  Around May first, there were 5 new kids on the block born to 2 mothers.  The triplets were born to a  goat who has looked uncomfortably pregnant since about February and the twins were born to one that no-one knew was pregnant.  Surprise!  The triplets were all born super healthy and doing good but the twins were sort of a different story.  There was one boy who came out huge and all red and one boy who was super tiny and the more normal white and red.  We all pretty much figured that the little one wasn’t going to make it (he was about half the size of the other twin) but he’s more feisty than we gave him credit for and he’s been doing well.  He’s actually a master of finding hiding places in the old equipment dad has stored out in the grove.

He may look familiar, but he’s ALL boy!

I may be little, but you’ll never find me in a game of hide and seek!

Really? Did you HAVE to headbutt me?

Our own Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger. (The little guy is muddy, they are all outside now…)

The one female of the 5. Yep, 4 boys and 1 girl…

One of the triplets. Without checking “under their tails” they are remarkably hard to tell apart!

It’s fun getting to watch little ones play again!


One of the other things that has been going on is the push to get the corn planted.  We’ve had perfect weather this year and thus dad was able to get the entire crop into the ground in under a week.  This is a new record for him I think.  So, to that end, I don’t have any pictures of dad planting the corn as most of it happened while I was in Ames.  Sorry, you’ll just have to look forward to it for next year:-)  So, I give you a picture of corn shoots just out of the ground.  I haven’t found a way to photograph it yet, but at this stage, when you look out over a field, it looks like green fuzz.






What are you looking at?? May 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 5:32 pm
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I’m sorry that I’ve not been on here much.  My internet at my apartment in Ames sucks big-time and the past few weekends I haven’t had a lot of time at the farm for stuff on the computer.  I promise that I have several posts that I hope to get up this coming weekend with lots of pictures of what I have been doing and where I have been going.  Suffice it to say, it is spring and I am busy!

However, I don’t have the time to do a proper blog post right now, but I am going to leave you with some fun goat pictures.




Doctor Strangelove April 6, 2012

Today I made an appointment for little Miss Sweetie Pie to get spayed next week.  Since it is warming up rapidly, I want to get her out of my room!!!!! She is a teensy bit destructive and annoying and I am tired of being scratched and bloody (it’s how she shows her affection… purr, purr BITE!). However, I can’t put her outside in her current state as I’m sure that she would be preggers faster than you can say, “What’s your sign baby?”.

What are you lookin' at?

In other news, I will be attending my first fiber festival since being back Stateside.  It’s called Shepherd’s Harvest and it’s held in Lake Elmo, Minnesota.  My mom is going with me and is thinking about taking a weaving class while there.  I’ve never gone to this festival before and I’ve never gone to a fiber event with mom, so this should be interesting on several different levels!  I heard about it because Deb Robson tweeted that she is going to be there and I plan on catching her talk on Saturday night.

I have been hooking and knitting, but that crazy thing called “having a full-time job” has seriously cut into my crafty time.  (Not that I am complaining, I am very happy to have gainful employment, it just means that the crafty doesn’t flow quite a quickly as it was!)  I finished this scrapghan this weekend.

It’s a little different from my usual version in that I experimented with fringe.  I think that it adds a bit of a playful aesthetic to it, but I doubt that I will do it again.  It just got in the way a lot and was really time-consuming in the end.  It’s going to be raffled off by the Ackley American Legion Auxiliary in the coming months as a fundraiser.

Remember this?

I thought for sure that it was headed for the frog pond because I couldn’t find any more of the red yarn.  I looked in Michael’s and JoAnn’s and Hobby Lobby and not one of them carried this particular shade of red.  Guess where I found it.  Wal-Mart.  I detest going into that store, but it’s really the only thing sort-of local and while I was in there looking for something else I just moseyed down the yarn aisle and there it was, bright as day, just sitting there!  It’s a good thing I really didn’t want to rip it out as now I have enough yarn to finish the blanket!  Woot woot!  And, I am planning on taking a little weekend trip out to Chicago to see Sarah and her crew in the next few weeks so hopefully I will have it finished by the time I get there and can give it to the little guy in person.  Just in time for summer…


In which I sound cryptic and mysterious (when I’m really not) April 1, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 9:21 pm
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Quiet.  That’s not what my life has been lately.  Unfortunately, not a lot of what has been going on with me has been blog-able.  Work has finally kicked into full-gear and truth be told, I don’t feel like I have a lot of time to myself anymore.

However, I’ve not forgotten you, my determined blog reader!  I have an idea for a sort of series of blog posts about things that I see as I am traveling all around Iowa.  Hopefully, interspersed amongst them will be posts about the normal tidbits of my life.

Spring is speeding forward at record speeds here.  There were parts of the state that got into the 90’s today!  It’s the first of APRIL!  Mom and I are planning a garden and I’ve gotten some onion sets and seed potatoes to get started in the ground.  My brother moved the goats out into the pasture this weekend.  The little ones kept trying to go back to the shed where they lived as they had never known anything else.  However now they have figured out that grass=good and are staying put.  I’ll try to get some pictures for you next week.

Otherwise, my life is still one big transitional mess with a bunch of stuff going on that I cannot talk about (yet).  Suffice to say, I have some things that I am working on but nothing that has been finished or finalized.

Sorry.  I’ll get back on here a bit more when I have more to say:-)


A Good Day to Be Born March 23, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 12:50 pm
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In the field over the road today we have lambs being born in:



And Three’s!

The score so far (it’s a little after noon) is 2 singles, 2 twins and a set of triplets.  9 so far today!

(sorry about the photo quality, long range lens with little moving things….)