In 1973, Gibbs Smith Publisher relocated from California to Utah. Gibbs and Cathy Smith spent that first summer converting an old barn (built in 1916) on the Smith family farm into offices. Smith never forgot sharing the barn with cows those first few years. “You could hear them mooing through the walls,” he would say with a smile. “People could hear them over the phone, too.” Gibbs was proud of the firm's international aspirations, founded with Western roots. More specifically, a barn in the Rocky Mountain West.
The Barn is surrounded by residential subdivisions. And as good as Google Maps is, it doesn’t get a visitor to our doorstep. In fact, you’ll be knocking on the door of an unsuspecting homeowner a block away.
Directions to the Barn usually start with, “The first thing you’ll see is our sheep out in their pasture.” Many years ago, our little sheep herd was much larger and growing. One day, our Managing Editor, Madge Baird, was on the phone with an author when someone came in and told her a lamb was being born. She told the author “gotta go” and hung up (calling her back later). Now, the flock is at a more manageable size of three. They share the fenced pasture that has tall and short grass, dirt, sunshine and shade, protective structures, and water flowing through the middle of everything.
Recently, we lost our oldest, Mabel, who was well over 20 years old and bow-legged from arthritis. Her breed was Columbia, and she was definitely the matriarch of the group. The barn humans are trying to adjust without her, and so are the three younger sheep. There are two Suffolk sheep sisters, each 8 years old. Wilma is the bravest sister and Frannie the shyer sister. And the newest member of our sheep family is Morning Glory, a three-legged Columbia who is 2 years old. Her injury happened when she was a wee one, before we adopted her. She has no clue she is “different” from the other sheep, and she can outrun any of them!
While the sheep stay in the fenced pasture, the chickens get to roam around the barnyard grounds all day long. There are 4 small bantam hens with fancy feathered feet. Smoky, the oldest at 4 years, is a gray Pekin. The other 3 hens, all 2 years old, are semi-Silkies; yellow Sunshine, gray Stormy, and gray Tag-along. The four provide the Barn employees with cute half-sized eggs!
The Barn may best be known for its cats. Although most live with us in our offices, three rebels prefer to stay outside. Charlie, a white & black shorthair, about 12 years old, has a sweet personality. Cola, a little larger black and white shorthair, is over 10 years old, and aloof. And Pouf, aka Fluffy, is a gentle, cream-colored longhair, also over 10 years old. They have cozy cat houses made for them, century-old farm structures to hide in, and, of course, the pasture to play in. But most of the time, they like hanging out on cushions covering the outdoor chairs and benches.
Our office cats have the best of both worlds. They hang out inside and yet go outside whenever they want. The grand dame of the Barn cats is Rose. A sweet, loving, gray-white-orange shorthair, she is over 20 years old. She loves lying on laps and shoulders and hanging out on her special bench outside when the days are sunny.
Misty is a 10-year-old gray-and-white shorthair. Some call her “talkative,” and others just call her “attached.” Misty picks a favorite human and waits by the front door until that person arrives for work each morning. Should that favored person ever leave for “greener pastures,” Misty gets depressed.
Stewart, or Stewie for short, is a white-and-gray shorthair who is afraid of his own shadow. This 6-year-old is the epitome of “fraidy-cat.” But get a little catnip in him, and he gets a little bit braver and more social. Then it’s back to nap time for him, where he usually snores his way to pleasant dreams.
Cleona is a 15-year-old gray tabby. She is distinguished looking, extremely clever, and has the roughest tongue of any of the cats at the barn.
Miss Kitty is a kind little one who is a friend to all. The 7-year-old with gray medium hair loves to disappear into the nearby swamp-pond for days at a time each summer. Food? Who needs food. I want EXCITEMENT!
Finally we have Oliver, or Ollie for short. Ollie is a 4-year-old Siamese who likes his own space. So much so that he lets the Publisher of the company use his office all day long. But at night, it is his.