About the Farm
In The beginning - 3L&S Farm’s Romneys: Owner/ Shepardess/ Fiber Artist- Penny Swearingen
Year 2019 marks the 40th year that Penny has been engaged in Sheep Production and the 30th year as 3L&S Farms raising Purebred Romneys. Penny is an Illinois native having grown up on a grain farm in East-Central Illinois and received a Bachelor’s in Animal Science from the University of Illinois. While attending the U of I she worked at the U of I Sheep barn which was her introduction to sheep, working border collies and hand spinning wool. In addition to Livestock Management Penny also studied Meat Science and was on the Meat Judging Team. Upon graduation Penny launched her first flock of purebred sheep, Hampshires. It was also during that time that she coached 4H livestock/meat judging kids on Breeding stock, Meat Animal and Carcass Evaluation.
The Romney’s introduced themselves when Penny was admiring all the Fleeces in the Wool Competition at the 1985 North American International Livestock Exhibition (NAILE) while anxiously awaiting the completion of the 4H judging contest. What sparked the next 30 years was the Reserve Champion Fleece, a gorgeous silver Romney fleece from Oregon. Three years later (1988) a starter flock of Romney ewes unloaded into Mercer Co Illinois and that is where the tale begins.
Meet the Family
The Family Farm is only complete after all the players have been recognized. Penny Swearingen is the matron of 3L&S Farms. 3L&S stands for her two daughters and son who were raised with the Romney’s and worked very hard with their mother during their 4H and FFA years. They showed them at the county fair and oddly a bit of Romney wool infiltrated the 4H Arts and Craft exhibit in form of Knitted blankets, Dream catchers and felted teddy bears. In 2002 the flock and the youngest child moved with Penny from Illinois to Michigan. It was at that point that her son wanted to expand his show career by dragging the Romney’s beyond the Hillsdale County fair to the All-American Junior Lamb show and even to NAILE.
Now all three children have grown, married and spawned a new generation of Romney enthusiast as the first round of grandchildren showed for the first time at the 2018 Michigan Fiber Fest.
The Man behind the scenes who is main dog sitter and water “boy”, well that is Penny’s husband Neil Hasbrouck. Neil and Penny had worked together in the Meat industry for 12 years when Neil came out and gave a helping hand through the winter of 2014 and the tornado damage that summer. They married in 2018. They attend Saint Luke’s Lutheran Church, Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, Jackson MI.
The story is not complete without recognizing the behind the scenes working of the Dogs. The Border Collies and Great Pyrenees who carry a lot of the daily workload. If you are fortunate enough to visit the farm, Ivy the main working border requires sticks to be thrown and Metro and Mikki the Pyres need to meet you prior to visiting the sheep.