Sarah Jane Humke

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

My birthday (a little late) February 7, 2013

You know you had a good time on your birthday when you don’t get to blog about it until a week later!

My day started normally enough until I got to the office where a very interesting box awaited me on my desk.  Given it’s dimensions, I was a tad apprehensive that my day was going to devolve into something Kill Bill-esque…


…until I opened it up.  It’s a beautiful tapestry that my friend Guang had his folks bring back from China for me:-)


When my friend Elise arrived, so did flowers…


doughnuts and a massive chocolate cake.


I also got another box in the mail when I went to the post office later.  It was a wrapped box…


…and it contained this.


It’s a Nexus 7 tablet.  A very kind friend sent it to me as a really big surprise.  A big surprise is certainly was!

That evening Elise and I went to Welch Ave. Station for dinner and drinks.  This is a college bar here in the Iowa State campus town that has been around FOREVER.  My free birthday drink was their Pissed off Japanese Minnow Farmer.  After that, well, things got a little interesting.


Yeah. That’s me. Putting away tequila shots like a full-on college student.  Which I guess that I am!


Believe it or not, after about 10 shots I still was able to walk out of the bar on my own two feet.  I didn’t get sick nor was I hung-over in the morning (in case you were worried).  I think the pizza, fried cheese balls, and cheesy bread that we had eaten earlier in the evening mitigated the potential for alcohol damage.  Don’t get me wrong, I was a rather cheerful Sarah leaving the bar that night, but honestly, I was walking better than Elise was and she’d not had a drink that night!

Today I received a package from my friend Tini in Germany.


In it was a sweet birthday card, 2 cutie sheep figurines, some lush spinning fiber, a bit of leftover sock yarn for my blanket and a little notebook that I am going to use to keep my spinning notes in, and a bunch of Tyvek bracelets like what you get when you go to a club or an event.  They are for marking yardage and such on skeined-up yarn that you are then going to wash.  Brilliant!


This evening I got yet another birthday present from my lovely roommate Des.  It’s the book Latvian Mittens by Lizbeth Upitis. Such a beautifully done book!

Weezy approved!

Weezy approved!

Thank you to everyone who made my birthday so wonderful.  Special thanks to Elise and Guang for a fantastic night out!  If this is what 35 is like, roll on 40!


Snapshots January 7, 2012

I thought that I would share a few random photos from my day.

She's too big to fit into my coat anymore (at least with me in it too!)

I never really believed the stories about the farmers squirting milk directly into the mouths of barn cats before. Now I do. This is Mama Cat who has become part of my retinue for the Red feedings.

I wish I could capture one of her little hoppy jumps as she walks beside me!

This CANNOT become a habit because if there is one thing more annoying than a dog jumping up on you it has to be a large goat (which I think Red is going to be).

It's hard to see (because most of it isn't in the picture!) but Red's new favorite way to feed is sitting on my lap.

Milk Moustache!

Weezy on the ice. Parts of the creek are still frozen despite the very warm weather because they never get direct sun.

The Freshwater Mussels that formed the "mother of pearl" button industry in Iowa at the turn of the century are still found in creeks and rivers all over Iowa.


A short walk on a cold winter day December 23, 2011

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I took Malcolm and Micheal down to the creek today for their walk.  Meara and Weezy were originally excited by the idea but quickly changed their minds when they understood just how cold the wind was.

The snow from yesterday has stuck around making the cold seem appropriate.  It also causes the landscape to appear a tad less harsh.

The creek is only partially frozen.  There is still moving water in parts of it while it is completely frozen over in other areas.

The sun tried valiantly to overcome the winter gloom.

Malcolm wears his “please don’t shoot me hunters, I’m a dog” vest every time we go further than the front yard now.  There are often many shots heard from deer hunters in all directions.  There “shouldn’t” be any hunters on the land we are walking on, but I feel better with him geared-up like this.  Plus it makes him a lot easier to find in this brown/white landscape!

Sweetie Pie wanted to know where the heck we had been when we got back!


Christmas WIP’s November 4, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 9:59 am
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So, Christmas is fast approaching.  For anyone not believing me, just go into any department store and check-out the Christmas displays and music piping from the ceilings.  Christmas is on it’s way people!

This year, Christmas isn’t going to be a big one for me.  With the move and no job and everything else going on in my life right now, it doesn’t really make sense to go crazy this year, even a little bit.  However, there are a couple of little kids in my life, and I hate for them to not get anything from Auntie Sarah.  One is really too little to care still, but one is right in the beginning of when Christmas is a magical time of the year and Santa is real and all of that wonderful stuff.

Because of the lack of incoming funds and the fact that I have a metric ton* (which is 2,205 lbs for those of you curious) of yarn sitting in a storage unit now I figured that I would make 2 blankets before Christmas.  One is for a small(ish) child (he’s big for his age) and one is for a baby.  I think it’s do-able!  I’ve already gotten not quite a quarter of one of the blankets done (it’s one of my trademark scrapghans) and I have found the yarn and fabric for the other which is more of an accomplishment than it sounds like it should be:-)

Here is the progress on the scrapghan with Malcolm for scale:

And just to be fair (and to torture the dog a bit more:-)) here is the progress on blanket #2:

Please don’t think that I am a total lazy butt as the bed has been made once today already.  Malcolm and Weezy really don’t like it when it’s all nice and flat like that.  Both of them paw and work at it until the entire bed looks like a towel someone threw on the bathroom floor.  Then they are both happy with the bed!  Meara on the other hand just sort of slips under the covers near the pillows, not really disrupting them at all.

All of my knitting has been put on hold for the moment.  My crocheting is faster (I only started that blanket a couple of nights ago) and these need to be done asap, whereas the knitting is all for me and thus can wait for a bit.  I made a trio of dish cloths as well (for the mama of the two kids) prior to starting these blankets, so I’m not turning homo-craftual in case you were worried:-)


*I don’t really have 2,205 lbs of yarn.  I don’t think…


Random Bits November 3, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 11:31 pm
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My dogs have adopted a kitten.

Please excuse the lack of sheets. I was washing the bedding that day. I didn't have the heart to kick them off they were being so damn cute!

I have to watch Weezy when she is around the kitten as she tends to get a little exurberant with her face cleaning sometimes flipping the kitten over!

So far, we are calling her Sweetie Pie as she is very much one.  Meara does not like her and wants nothing to do with her.  If anyone is interested in adopting her, I would love for her to go to a good home.  As you can see, she gets along with dogs:-)

My friend Tini is still podcasting.  Check her out here or on iTunes!

This week I helped my mom give a little talk about Finland to a local nursing home.  I would have never guessed 4 years ago that I would be a local expert on Finland!

I stopped-by a Salvation Army center this week to drop-off a bag full of toiletries that we found around the house.  Most of them were the little travel sized ones from various hotels that my mom has stayed at over the past few years.  These are good for folks that are coming to a shelter.  Anyway, I was there at lunch time and was amazed at the number of people coming in for a hot meal.  And most of these folks were elderly.  It’s almost time for the Salvation Army bell-ringers to start their work.  Don’t just pass these folks by while you are out doing your Christmas shopping.  If you have enough money to buy presents, you can dump at least a little change in their kettles.  Really, I got to see first hand what this money is going to.  I think that everyone should.  So get in the Christmas spirit and help someone down on their luck.  It is only by the grace of God that we are not there ourselves…


Harvest October 22, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 2:38 pm
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So the past week or so has been all about getting the corn (maize) out of the fields.  I figured that I would share with you a few photos of it…

This is the combine with the head up. The head is the front part of the combine that looks like a demonic comb or fingers. You put the head up when you aren't actually harvesting, like when you are trying to get from one part of the field to another.

Here it is with the head down, ready to start harvesting the corn.

The combine cuts the corn plants off a little under a foot from the soil surface and then "ingests" it eventually separating the corn kernels from everything else, which gets ejected out the back-end of the combine.

There is a lot of organic material left behind the combine. Farmers used to disk this all under every fall but now most leave it on top of the soil as it helps to prevent erosion.

I don't have a lot of chances to get pictures of the combine this time of the year when it's not moving. They had a flat tire, which is why it's in the farm-yard. Here you can see the head clearly. This combine can harvest 6 rows at a time. There are combines that are out right now that can harvest 12 rows at a time. They are HUGE and have to remove their heads before they can go on the road.


This is what it looks like between two of the fingers on the head. You can see the chains with the teeth that grab the cornstalks and drag them in. These are why you don't want to be wandering around out in a field when they are harvesting! (Well, one reason at least!)

This is the hopper where the corn kernels go. It's a lot bigger than it looks in this photo.

A view from the driver's seat.

When the hopper is full, the combine unloads the grain into a truck or wagon. It used to be uncommon to see grain trucks being used but now pretty much everyone uses them as they are much faster than using a tractor and wagons.

Gratuitous cute shot!



The Creek October 17, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sarah Jane Humke @ 5:45 pm
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The corn down along the bottom land has been harvested so we can get to the creek now.

This time of the year it’s pretty low, perfect for exploring with some little dogs!

I’ve found a nice sandy bend which is out of the wind and sort of hidden from the world.  We are obviously not the only ones enjoying these characteristics!

Malcolm loves walking around in the water checking out all the angles.

Weezy gets excited over every little sound.

Meara and Micheal are really not interested in coming down here and have to be coerced into coming down the bank.

Malcolm seems to think that the water in the creek tastes better than anywhere else!

Meara is skeptical about this claim.