Broken Crook Farm/Lorane Fiber 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/Lorane Fiber 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
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 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
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
Perendales are a relatively rare breed in the US, although they are fairly common in New Zealand (where they originated). They were developed in the 1950s as a cross between Border Cheviot rams and Romney ewes. They are classified as a dual-purpose (fleece and meat) breed. In many ways they display the best characteristic of both breeds: ewes are easy lambers, excellent mothers, and are thrifty (thriving on a grassfed diet with little supplementation), characteristics they inherited from their Cheviot ancestry.
From the Romney side they inherited lovely fleeces and good feet that rarely need trimming. They also exhibit good parasite resistance/resilience.
Staple length (typ. 5-7”) is consistent with Perendales’ classification as a “longwool” breed. A typical fleece weighs 10 lb unskirted. The micron count (~ 30-35 m) is towards the finer end of the spectrum for this category. Their finer fiber diameter confers greater softness; most Perendale lamb fleeces are “next to the skin soft”.
A Perendale fleece has a characteristic clear, even crimp different from that of Cheviot fleeces; the crimp is also somewhat finer than that of a typical Romney fleece. The lock should be definite and meaty, with even crimp throughout the staple and moderate luster. The handle should be full and springy. Fleeces come in both white and natural colored (NC).
Staple: 5-7 inches
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
Available from Amazon.com
The Teeswater breed is named for the River Tees in Britian. The breed is a combination of old Leicester and Lincolnshire lines and has itself contributed to the Wenslydale breed in a very positive way.
Teeswater sheep are one of the original longwools and are prized for their soft open locks. They are a big sheep with ewes going to #250-300's. They have one of the lowest micron counts of the longwools, generally in the 30-38 range which makes their fleece far softer than Wenslydale.
Teeswaters were never imported as a breed to North America, so are kind of the unicorn of sheep breeds in the USA. A small group of breeders in the West are participating in a breed up program which has proved very successful. Cherished by handspinners and felters this wool is gaining in popularity.
Locks are known for their lustre and smooth surface and come in a warm, clear, white color.
Staple Length: To 15 inches Annually
Fleece Weight: 10-15#
Named for Ian Coop, a college researcher in New Zealand, this breed was developed crossing Romney ewes with Border Leicester rams in the 1950s, the goal being to produce a hardy sheep with the following characteristics; fleece growth, fertility, lamb survival, and growth rate.
Coop was interested in a quality fine wool that also produced a big carcass fast. Since Coopworths have been registered based on characteristics and not percentage from the start, fleece can have different characteristics depending on where the sheep are from, in the US Coopworth Fleece standards are a micron count 45-50 making their fleece better suited to outerwear than next to the skin garments, but because Australian standards are more stringent fleece can be as soft as 30 microns.
So I guess the rule here would be feel the fleece before judging its use.
Staple Length: 5-8 inches
Fleece Weight: 8-18 pounds
Microns30-45 depending on development
Angora Goats (Mohair)
Both names that these goats are known by reflect their origins in what is now, Turkey. specifically the Anatolia region, in a town called Angora which is now the Turkish capital of Ankara. Oddly enough Angora cats and also rabbits hail from this area, as well.
They are documented in this region as far back as 1500BC. In 1849 James Davis brought the first goats to North Carolina and it has been a love affair with the fiber ever since. Mohair goats are cute, plucky little beings with a fairly mellow personality. Known for their long curly locks, this fleece is produced by no other goat breed. Because Mohair goats are not very hardy they are mostly raised in the southern US and Texas.
Daring breeders raise them throughout the US but they require a lot of care. Breeders blame their prolific fleece growth as part of the problem. Angora (Mohair) goats can grow ¾ of an inch of fiber per month which takes a tremendous amount of energy. Young goats grow the softest fiber so demand the biggest price but most Mohair is very soft making it perfect for blending.
Staple Length: 3 inches for each 6 month period
Fleece Weight: varies by age but Adults from 8-26 pounds annually
Microns; 18-40 depending on age and length. Average 20 microns