From the editor: After 23 years, Executive Editor Amy Maestas leaving Durango Herald

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From the editor: After 23 years, Executive Editor Amy Maestas leaving Durango Herald

Amy Maestas, The Durango Herald’s executive editor, gussies up a sheep at the La Plata County Fair in August 1998. Maestas joined the Herald in 1996 as a city government and business reporter. Next week, she will step down from her role after 23 years with the newspaper.
How hard can it be to groom curly hair?

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in The Durango Herald print edition on Aug. 16, 1998.The idea of a city slicker wrangling a sheep and grooming it to a high gloss is preposterous.
Movies and millions of dollars have been made poking fun at the farm-ignorant population that will go to great lengths to feel some sort of connection to the cowboy way of life.
I didn’t agree to be part of a rookie team Friday that participated in the La Plata County Fair “fit and trim” contest for that reason, though. I did it to prove I can make a sheep look good.
I’ll admit that I had second thoughts about confining myself to a public arena where farm folk would be watching with scrutiny. And because one co-worker told me the event really is for people who know how to groom sheep to laugh at people who don’t know how.
I demand respect, however, for reconsidering and sheepishly telling organizers I would indeed join the team. I realized it would make for a good story -- a much exaggerated story.
I assumed the hardest part would be catching the sheep. I’ve been told sheep are gregarious animals, but not being their kind I thought they would squeal like banshees and run like bulls. I was wrong.
When the starting whistle blew, I picked my sheep and headed straight for it. The sheep knew I wanted it; we had made eye contact. I squinted one eye and raised my eyebrow just like my mother did when I was a child. It meant “Come here right now.” (It also meant other things, such as “Stop acting up, or else.”)
With brute strength I swept the sheep off his feet, hoisted him over my shoulder and with one hand gently set him on the platform. I coaxed him into the headlock by promising him a fresh salt lick. He misinterpreted and lapped his tongue against my face.
I expected him to wiggle and writhe as three strangers bumped brushes while trying to fluff his wool.
“I feel your pain,” I whispered in his ear to calm him.
He stomped his hoof in disbelief.
“I know what it’s like to have thick, curly hair,” I added, trying to be his equal.
He returned a blank stare. He said something like “bah” – which I interpreted as, “Not like this, babe.”
The judges gave us 15 minutes to make the sheep spiffy. It seemed like an eternity. I don’t even spend that much time grooming myself in the morning. What could we possibly do to a sheep with all that time?
“You know, I don’t eat your kind,” I assured him, trying to win points.
His eyes didn’t light up. He said something like “bah” – which I interpreted as, “Yeah, but I know about your wool sweater fetish.”
Our team carried on, attempting to turn this once-innocent farm animal into a newspaper carrier. We wrapped a hawker’s apron around his belly and covered his head with a Herald ball cap.
“Here’s a little something to entertain you,” I said as I slapped a newspaper on his back.
He shook his head. He said something like “bah” – which I interpreted as, “I’m not a morning person.”
We finally let him loose. He quickly flocked to his herd mates; one dressed in Coca-Cola boxers and another dressed in train engineer overalls.
“See you this fall on some county road,” I told him as I was leaving with our third-place ribbon in hand.
He nodded in return.
“Ewe too,” he bleated.

From the editor: After 23 years, Executive Editor Amy Maestas leaving Durango Herald

Amy Maestas, The Durango Herald’s executive editor, gussies up a sheep at the La Plata County Fair in August 1998. Maestas joined the Herald in 1996 as a city government and business reporter. Next week, she will step down from her role after 23 years with the newspaper.

From the editor: After 23 years, Executive Editor Amy Maestas leaving Durango Herald

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