Our Sheep

Broken Crook Farm Sheep grow happy fleece.... The ewes spend their days on 38 acres of grass in coastal Oregon where the temperature is moderate and the shade is plentiful. They have their lambs in April on pasture and raise them in a flock, as sheep should. The Rams though busy for one month can be seen doing essentially the same thing grazing and napping the lazy days away... these are the important parts of growing great fleece.

 

Exceptional Breeding, Solid breed specific Out-Crosses, Good Nutrition, a stress-free existence, and a dry place to curl up if the weather is inclement. We shear the first week of March so that the sheep are fleece free to lamb in April, lambing causes wool break so it is important to get the wool off before labor sets in. Most all of our sheep are only shorn once a year. We do this so that spinners can depend on a long staple. The farm is gently rolling and walking up and down hills helps the ewes stay in shape and helps the lambs grow big and strong.

 

We sell breeding and starter flocks of Blue Faced Leicester, Border Leicester, and crossbred fleece animals. We always keep a whether or two in case you are buying a ram and need a buddy. 85% of our sheep are registered with only planned crossbred fleece pairings. Make an appointment to tour the farm and choose your flock Tuesday-Thursday noon to 3pm (except holidays and winter months) tours by appointment only.

 

We are a proud importer of UK Blue Faced Leicester Semen so are home to some ewes and rams not related to anything in the United States. As one of 17 producers in North Americal we pride ourselves on a large, hardy, flock of Blue Faced Leicesters that can lamb on pasture, resist parasites, make good use of forage, have good feet, and grow great lambs. Broken Crook Border Leicesters, Gotlands, and Crossbreds grow some of the nicest fleece in the PNW. We are happy to offer outstanding animals to budding shepherds.

Blue Faced Leicester

A relatively new breed primarily developed to produce” Mules”; a systematic cross of three British Breeds Blackface Mountain, Cheviot, Welsh Mountain, this pairing not only produced a pasture grass meat breed but some of the finest fiber in the history of fiber. The BFL Ram is crossed on ewes from the above groups the resulting ewe lambs are then crossed on a heavier meat breed to produce meat sheep.

 

The BFl itself produces a fine fiber that resembles finely wound springs, even though it is a long wool, its springy appearance is called, Tightly purled. When this wool is spun it will produce yarn that can look like a string of glistening white pearls. Incredibly versatile, BFL wool is also very uniform and predictable in micron count, grade, Fiber length, and fleece weight. Fine enough to be worn close to the skin, durable enough to wear well, shiny enough to take dye well, and moderately feltable. It also blends well.

STAPLE LENGTH: 3-6 inches

Micron Count: 24-28

Sheep
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Border Leicester

One of the oldest sheep breeds and the standard sheep of Britain, its origins are the results of crossing Teeswater and Cheviots. Developed in the late 1700’s careful crosses resulted in the Border Leicester that arrived in the US around 1920.

 

For most breeds wool is an afterthought, but BL wool is so important that the sheep are shown with growth in order that the fleece is judged as well. An upright, reliable sort of wool finest can vary from a soft 24-28 microns to a coarser 30-38. Fleece will feel heavier than BFL but it is friendlier and easier to prepare and spin it is the workhorse of the textile industry. It is durable in nature, feels good in the hand, has a bit of a halo, is a willing felter and the lower micron fleeces will rival Romney or Dorset in feel, durability, and resilience.

Staple Length: 4-10 inches (full year)

Micron Count 24-30

Gotland

Gotland is an unusual wool that rivals fine mohair or English long wool. It is comfortable for next to the skin fabric and can be spun into heavily textured yarns. The prominent colors are a range of grays to black but there is a hybrid white Gotland in the US derived from careful crossing with Wensleydales. Different Strains have different characteristics, but most are shiny with a good feel to the hand.

 

The original Gotland’s were produced in Switzerland but since have traveled all over the world. A favorite with spinners for the long staple and the softness. Gotland can be a little challenging for the beginner spinner.

Staple: 3-7 inches

Microns 18-mid 20s

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Wenslydale

Wenslydale may be the only sheep breed that can be tracked to a single ancestor. In 1839 a ram lamb was born in North Yorkshire to a Mug ewe (an old type of Teeswater), the paternal ram was a New Leicester. The offspring had the blue head and ears and was named Blue Cap by his owner. Blue Cap was used over Teeswater Ewes for several years to produce todays Wenslydale. They grow a long lustrous shiny wool with an incredible staple length.

 

The fiber is known for its long locks that hang in tight ringlets. Wenslydale is on the higher end of the micron count so is better for outer garments and crafting that next to the skin uses. It is an unwilling felter but is used for doll hair and other crafting creations.

Staple Length: to 12 inches when shorn annually

Microns: 30-36

Perendale

Commonly referred to as New Zealand Merino, this breed is known as a fine wool with considerable crimp. This bouncy wool will spin up with a considerable spring, so it is perfect for blending.

 

Generally, it will not be as shiny as some of the long wools but with its reliable crimp will produce a lightweight yarn with good warmth

Staple: 4-6 inches

Microns: 28-35

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Two Sheep

Shetland

The Shetland Islands in the north of Scotland are home to this dynamic little breed. In fact, they are named for them. Shetland sheep have evolved in this harsh destination for a thousand years. The breeds origins are the subject of much debate and no conclusive agreements.

 

Shetlands offer the spinner a sheepy smorgasbord of wool options with fibers ranging from 10 microns to 60 microns and every color of the Rainbow. There are 11 defined colors, and 30 subset colors. The best uses for Shetland are chosen by the spinner and then finding a fleece that suits your needs.

 

Shetland colors are the thing. The only true Morritt (Red ) based fleece and every color in between, belong to the Shetland breed. From lace to rug you can find it in a Shetland fleece. A willing felter this wool is prized by artists of all sorts.

Staple: 4 inches

Microns: 10 (neck fleece) -60 (pre 1927 lineage)

 

 

 

Source: The Fleece and Fiber SourceBook; Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius; Storey Publishing Copyright 2011 

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