There are a few fiber-peeps that I’ve known since the beginning of my knitting journey, and Kami Noyes is one of the few to have this distinction. She runs Ranching Tradition Fiber and she was one of the first shepherds to agree to an interview many years ago. I am so pleased to now have her yarn in the Flock Farm Yarn Shop! Kami is from the great state of Montana—where I love to go backpacking—and I’ve warned her that one of these summers I’m going to stop over to see her, the sheep, and the Copper K Fiber Festival . . . For now, we keep up a fine correspondence on Facebook, messenger, and email and I’m always excited to hear about her latest plans, newest fibers, and now, her own indie dyed yarn. In fact, she sent some her gorgeous Tobacco Root Valley yarn down to Illinois for me to test out a couple of years ago. I knit up a sweet little fade sweater in all of her pretty blues.
So, without further ado, I present a little interview with Kami about sheep, yarn, and everything in between! I hope you enjoy getting to know Kami and her flock. We have Tobacco Root Valley DK weight yarn in the Flock Farm Yarn Shop!
Interview with Kami Noyes
KTS: Can you tell us a bit about being a 5th generation rancher? How did your family get into the business of raising sheep?
Kami: Sheep have come and gone in every generation of my family thanks to droughts, predators, or, finding help, the sheep were sold. When I was young my dad had sheep, I loved helping him in the lambing barn or moving them to summer pastures. He had to sell them due to predators and time. I brought sheep back to the ranch about 19 years ago. My kids were young and we started with bottle lambs. Lambs are fun to raise with little kids, just smaller animals and easier to handle. We kept bringing in bum lambs until we had enough ewes to start raising our own lambs. Being a rancher, I love all animals but sheep always have had a special spot in my heart.
KTS: What breeds of sheep have you raised and how did you settle on your current flock?
Kami: I raise Targhee-Rambouillet sheep. I love the breed for their wool, meat, and hardiness. They like our Montana weather. In the first few years of raising sheep, I learned a lot about wool, breeding, and what I wanted to achieve with our herd. I started breeding for good mothering, fine wool, and most importantly a long staple. It has taken a long time, but we are finally getting our herd to be where we want it.
KTS: What is the Copper K Fiber Festival?
Kami: The Copper K Fiber Festival is an event I created six years ago. It is located in the Copper K Barn that my sister Lacee remodeled into a wonderful event venue in 2015. When I was young, we used the barn for lambing, so that's what made me think "what a great place to hold a fiber festival" and you could say the rest is history. This year we will host our 6th annual festival. We have over 30 vendors, workshops and just pure fiber fun out in the country. The barn is located 7 miles south of Whitehall, Montana and has become what some call “Montana’s destination fiber festival."
KTS: Would you be willing to share a story about ranching life? Something funny, touching, or memorable?
Kami: I have many memories from ranch life, most are touching, split seconds moments with the animals or with family. I am very blessed to be surrounded by a family that works hard together and supports each other. They have supported me throughout my sheep and fiber adventure. I also couldn’t do what I do with out my fiber supporters. When I have days of wondering if that post or email even reaches anyone, I seem to always get a message from someone telling me how much it means to them hearing about my weekly “adventures.” So, to share just one story or memorable moment in writing would be tough. Ranching is in my heart with the land, animals and family.
KTS: What are you most looking forward to this summer/next year?
Kami: I have just become a part of the new Montana Fibershed and I am excited to see that become a place for rancher and fiber artist to connect. I am always excited for the Copper K Fiber Festival. It has become a sort of Fiber reunion and I love seeing everyone. We're all so happy to spend time with like minding fiber people. And, as is true of most ranchers, I am just praying this year will bring rains.
KTS: Where can makers find you online?
Ranching Tradition Fiber Website - Fiber Artist and Supplies | Ranching Tradition Fiber
Copper K Fiber Festival - Copper K Fiber Festival
Montana Fiber Shed - Montana Fibershed