By Betty Jo Gigot, Publisher

Back home after a fabulous summer traveling the country, I may have arrived a little early since the temperature today is 107 degrees in Phoenix. I know you will all envy me come January.

In this business, sometimes, you wonder if anyone is really paying attention to what you publish from one issue to another, so a call from Alberta, Canada, recently, amused me. The gentleman called to tell me that he read CALF News on his computer, so he didn’t need a printed copy. He went on to say that he was disappointed to find out that there wasn’t an airport in Maple Hill, Kan. It turns out he lives in Canada but winters in Mexico and, after reading last issue’s “Where’s the Exceptional Beef?” about the NextGen Chop House, he was planning on stopping there on his next trip south.

My trip south through the reservations and desert is one of my favorites, especially if I stay overnight in Santa Fe. Turned out we were there for a special occasion. It was the annual kickoff for the Fiestas de Santa Fe when they burn a 50-foot-tall effigy. Zozobra, Old Man Gloom, represents gloom, and when burned, its flames take away all of the worries and troubles from the present year.

Nature got involved this year with a couple of fierce rainstorms in the middle of the ceremony, but thousands came from all over the world to cast off their worries at $10 per head (sponsored by the Kiwanis) and celebrate in Santa Fe.

Zozobra reminded me of a conversation I had recently about a presentation at a church in Colorado. The speaker, a local football coach, had the congregation think back on one thing in their lives they would like to change or apologize for, or just regretted. The ushers then passed out yellow sticky pads and asked the people to write it down on the paper. It’s kind of scary to make a permanent record of something so personal. Never fear, the ushers then passed out wastepaper baskets to toss your writing away, along with your memory of something you should just forgive yourself for anyway. Not as flamboyant as a 50- foot effigy but same effect.

The focus of this issue is on new developments in the cattle community, and our staff has written about advancements in technology and equipment. As we developed the topics, I came to realize the industry is in need of several Zozobra or yellow-sticky-pad solutions. We need a simple way to do an “out with the old and in with the new” without a complete breakdown of the system.

As negotiations move forward on NAFTA and other long-time accepted trade agreements, we get more and more scrutiny on the effect of long-time accepted health products on human health, and the packers as well as end-users like McDonald’s or Walmart speak words like sustainability and tell us what processes they will and won’t accept, it’s probably time to set fire to the 50-foot elephants in the room. COOL would certainly come to mind as well as the disputes over the use of National Beef Check-Off funds.

Change is never simple and we are an independent lot, but our job is to produce a safe, healthy product for our families, the nation and the world. Simple as that.

The staff and I are excited about the upcoming December/January issue because the topic will be people, people and people. We will be writing about mentors, leaders and favorite characters in the cattle community. It’ll make for an interesting read. Watch for it.