National sheep industry publication moves to Wyoming, releases first issue in MarchWritten by Christy Martinez
The Shepherd is now owned by Cat Urbigkit of Pinedale and Pete Arambel of Rock Springs – only the third owners of the publication. Because of their distance from each other, the official address for the magazine is Farson, the midpoint between them.
An idea begins
“Two Ohio couples owned the publication before us, and they decided that they couldn’t do it anymore,” says Urbigkit, who found out last fall that the magazine was in its final days from Sharon O’Toole of Carbon County, who writes a column for its pages.
“Then the December issue came out with the announcement that it was the last issue,” says Urbigkit.
“It really fills a niche,” says Urbigkit of the magazine. “When the last issue came out, Pete and I got together and talked about what a shame it was to see it end, and we thought about the possibility of submitting an offer, realizing we had a very short timeline.”
Two months passed while the offer was submitted, accepted and went through a legal process. Urbigkit and Arambel also formed a business partnership in that time, now known as Long Draw Publishing.
“My plans for working on another book for the last few months went out the window,” says Urbigkit, who has several children’s and nonfiction books to her name.
“We bought the magazine and its assets, which include the subscriber lists, its good name and 56 years of back issues, which we don’t yet have in Wyoming,” she adds.
The Shepherd has three regular columnists, and most of the content is provided by sheep researchers, ag extension specialists and others in the industry.
“From my work in the publishing industry, I felt confident I could round up enough content, and I’ve spent a lot of the last month reestablishing and making contacts for our content,” says Urbigkit.
Urbigkit, who has been a loyal reader, says she has about 12 years of back issues on hand, because of the information they contain about nutrition, animal husbandry and other sheep issues.
The Shepherd has a 48-page format that is delivered monthly to subscribers, and it continues to be printed by the Ohio publishing company that’s been in business since 1881.
“They’d put out a wonderful magazine for a long time, but hadn’t kept up with technology,” says Urbigkit of the previous owners. “They didn’t have a website, so subscribing has been difficult – you actually had to see a copy of the magazine to get a subscription form. It was ready for growth.”
Since obtaining the magazine, Urbigkit says they have now made a digital edition available online for two dollars per issue.
“When we bought the company, we found there were foreign subscribers, and they had to pay a lot of money for delivery each month. We have U.S. subscribers who pay $25 per year, and the foreign subscribers have to pay $60 per year for postage. I wanted to provide another option, and we found the electronic edition is the best way to do it,” she explains.
The Shepherd can be found online now at theshepherdmagazine.com, and Urbigkit expects the website to grow in the future.
“The letters and emails we’ve received have been touching,” notes Urbigkit, mentioning a letter from a man who was friends with the magazine’s original founders and who is set up with a lifetime subscription. “He has a small sheep outfit in the Northeast, and he’s been with the magazine all along. We’ve had a lot of great support so far.”
Urbigkit says they are honoring all existing subscriptions, and the two editions that were missed in January and February will be made up.
“There is a real personal satisfaction for both Pete and I in bringing this magazine to Wyoming, because we consider Wyoming an important place in terms of the sheep industry,” says Urbigkit. “It’s satisfying to bring a national magazine to Wyoming.”