Saving the Discards

Runt, throwaway, cull, lung-er, reject, discard—all words that speak of little worth in this world. Ranchers use these words to describe calves born with defects or challenges that will require extra care, and sometimes still result in death. “Rowdy”, born just a few weeks ago, is one example of that. After being born with a cleft palate and rejected by his mother, he was left to die alone in a vast, lonely pasture. That was until the godly spirit of one rancher resulted in a chance to live.

When calves are born in less than perfect condition, many ranchers make the choice to destroy the animal. They consider it an acceptable loss when a sickly calf requires more care and resources than a healthy one. It blessed me when my ranching friend and Christian brother, Mr. Donnie Bookout, chose instead to put God’s words into action.

Unable to nurse, “Rowdy’s” mother followed her natural instincts and abandoned the little calf. Without his mother’s nourishment, he would not last 24 hours. When Donnie saw the calf being pushed away by its mother, he knew intervention was needed. Sometimes, you can place a mama in a squeeze chute and allow its baby to nurse. Upon arrival in the pasture, my rancher friend saw the reason for the mother’s rejection.

“Rowdy” was born with a cleft palate and only one formed nostril. When Donnie realized the calf’s tongue was hanging out the right side of its face, he feared the worst. He inspected the spunky little calf and tried his best to get the mama to allow it to nurse. The old rancher had a decision to make; destroy the calf or pray. His decision was to give it every opportunity for life.

So on a cold, damp afternoon, my friend Donnie carried the little calf in his arms and got him into a small corral leading into the barn. There, he finished cleaning it off, dried it as best he could, and prepared some colostrum. He didn’t even know if the calf could drink from the bottle, but his gentle heart told him he had to try. With manipulation to the nipple, he got the newborn calf to ingest the needed formula. As he sat with the calf, he prayed.

I can’t tell you what my friend Mr. Donnie prayed; I’m certain it was along these lines. “Lord, help guide me to do the right thing to help this little fella. Help him Father to get him the nourishment he needs to survive the next hours, the coming night, and the next day Lord. Father God, help me speak life into this little calf.” That night, as he checked on the calf, he found it sleeping on a bed of fresh hay. Knowing my friend, he prayed again.

When morning came, Donnie rushed out to check on his little bull. In his heart, he knew to expect it would be dead. To his amazement, the calf was standing and peering through the fence for his new mama (Donnie) to come feed him. Donnie prepared another bottle with replacement milk and sat down and fed his new baby calf. This ritual has continued four times per day for the past month; and this week, we expect “Rowdy” to eat small, pelletized cattle feed as he moves to solid food.

In praying for my friend and his calf, God has been revealing many truths:

  • All of God’s creations have value; in God’s kingdom there are no discards.
  • The words we speak and hear should come from God and not the world.
  • God doesn’t promise that His answers to prayers will be what we ask for, but will be according to His will, not ours.
  • Speaking life into God’s words through our prayers; putting God’s words into practice in our lives through our actions, pleases God.
  • Similar to calf development, young Christians must move from milk to solid food if they are to grow and mature.
  • The reward comes in the effort put forth, not the result.
Do the words we speak, hear, and act upon, reflect God or this world in our lives? Share on X

Recently, I’ve thought about how many times I’ve heard words of brokenness and rejection spoken into my life by others and sometimes myself. I think also of times in my life where my adopting parents spoke loving, God-inspired words into me. I thank God for those, and the many times since, when my wife, family, and friends lift me up in their prayers or send words of encouragement as I journey through this life of faith.

Like my dear friend Mr. Donnie, I pray you speak life into others by using the words God has written upon your heart. I hope you gained a little insight into a side of ranching very few ever see or understand; what makes Christian ranchers such a special breed.

God’s blessings,

62 thoughts on “Saving the Discards”

  1. Awww, such a caring man Donnie is. I have been there trying to saving and feed a rejected goat kid. Like you, I believe God created animals for our care, even the rejected and sickly ones. And like these animals we have all been rejected in some way. It is up to us as Christians to love and care for those who are rejected by the world because God doesn’t give up on anyone.

    1. Amen Ms. Stephanie. We are each placed here by God to be caretakers of all He’s created. Satan has subverted so many to believe it more important to take care of themselves first. You are right my friend; it is absolutely up to each one of us to show God’s love and God’s light in this darkened world. We can’t do that if we are focused inward ma’am. Loved your post this week. Thank you so much for sharing much-needed words ma’am. God’s blessings.

  2. The world doesn’t like the “Donnies” out there. People like him spend too much time and effort on something or someone that statistically isn’t worth it. We should be thankful God doesn’t run a risk assessment analysis on us because we are all born with the same defect, sin! The Son of Man came to seek out those “throwaways”, namely us. I’m so glad He did!

    1. How very true Mr. Ben. The world is so busy thinking about itself that it has little time to think about how they might be able to encourage, lift up, help, or bolster another. Many are so blinded by the “what’s in it for me” mindset of this world, they fail to realize the long game of the need to make investments in eternity by our good works in God’s name during this very short time we are on this earth. I thank God each day that I am only “in this world” and no longer “of this world.”

    1. Exactly what I thought too Ms. Ann. When I went over an met “Rowdy” for the first time, he stuck his little head through the fence and if to say “Hello, pet me please.” He was dancing around and just so happy to see his new “mama” out there with me. It was so endearing. God’s blessings ma’am.

    1. I wish I could tell you how this story will end Ms. Diane, but this much I know. If “Rowdy” has any chance at all and surviving long term, it will be because of the efforts of my friend Mr. Donnie.

  3. J.D., this post made me cry. It moved me to sorrowful tears that Rowdy was born “less than” and his mother abandoned him. So greateful for Donnie’s heart to take him in and help him survive and thrive.

    It’s a great lesson for all of us to speak words of life and not death. To remember the acceptance of Jesus trumps any rejection we’ve endured…even from ourselves.

    1. Never meant to make you, or anyone, sad by this post Ms. Karen. Sadly, though, with livestock death is always a part of the cycle. I too am most grateful for folks like Mr. Donnie who will go above and beyond to try and help one of God’s creatures. It’s a wonderful testimony to what God can do in a man’s life if we’ll just surrender it to God. Thank you so much for commenting ma’am. I love how you always contribute to our conversations and make them better.

  4. Diane Wininger

    This is such a wonderful post about doing the right thing by our good friend, Donnie. It would have been easier to say “he’ll never survive” and ended Rowdy’s life. Instead, he went the extra mile, not because he had to, but because he wanted to give Rowdy every opportunity.

    He is the prime example of what being a Christian is supposed to look like. Both he and his wife, Debbie, have been true blessings in our lives.

    1. Yes ma’am. I couldn’t agree more. God has certainly blessed our lives with wonderful friends and brothers and sisters in Christ we can learn from since moving to TX hasn’t He my darlin’?

  5. Jeannie Waters

    This statement you wrote challenges me and encourages me to put more of God’s Word in my heart that I might share it wisely and more frequently: “I pray you speak life into others by using the words God has written upon your heart.” Thank you for another ranch lesson and reminder of the importance of prayer and the way we treat and speak to others.

    1. The amazing thing is Ms. Jeannie… you do this every day ma’am. 🙂 God’s blessings dear friend. Thank you for being such a great example for our world to learn from.

  6. “In God’s kingdom, there are no discards.” Oh, I’m so thankful for that–because I know I deserve to be a discard–a cull. We grew produce for many years–to sell. We only sold the best quality. The culls we ate, gave away, or threw away. Thankfully, God doesn’t look at us that way. He sees us as we can be, and guides us to be more than we ever believed possible. And, he loves us through it. Love your story. Mr. Bookout is my hero!

    1. Yes ma’am Ms. Katherine. Our entire lives ma’am, this world teaches us that anything less than perfect is worthless. How different is that from what God teaches us. I am with you ma’am; without God’s grace, mercy, and endless love, I would have been discarded many years ago by this world.

  7. As someone who grew up in ranch country, I know Mr. Donnie is a rare and special man. What a beautiful representation of God’s own mercy for those who are weak and unworthy by worldly standards. I love the points you’ve shared with us, J.D.

    Peace and grace,

    1. What kind words Ms. Tammy. I’ll be sure to pass them along to my friend Mr. Donnie. He is a real blessing in my life; and a wonderful example for young people (and old guys like me too) to learn from.

  8. Tears. I have tears streaming down my face. Your message reminds me to show love to all of God’s creations. We are created by Him and He loves humans and animals. God bless Donnie for taking such great care of the little one.

    1. Awww. I’m praying their good, cleansing tears Ms. Melissa. Such a gentle spirit m friend. Thank you for being the wonderful Christian writing friend you are. Folks like you make my journey so much more enjoyable.

  9. Very touching example of how we should treat those of us that have been rejected or shut out from families and society. We should never give up on people, but continue to pray and assist when God gives us the opportunity.
    God bless your friend Donnie!

    1. Thank you Ms. Cherie. My friend Mr. Donnie is most certainly a special blessing in my life ma’am. His wife (I call her “Nurse Debbie”) and you have much in common. She taught clinical nursing (if I remember that right) in college. Thank you both for your heart about caring for others. God bless our nurses and other caregivers who are sacrificing their own personal needs to help others.

  10. What a touching story about Donnie’s love for this calf.This is how God loves us all; no matter who we are or our circumstances and we need to love and help each other. Especially now in these times of uncertainty in our world.

  11. This is the sweetest story. It’s heartening to learn of a cattle rancher lovingly caring for a “reject.” I know Donnie’s act of sacrificial kindness made Jesus smile just like it did me. The verse it brings to mind for me is “whatever you did for one of the least of these…, you did for me.”

    1. Perfect verse Ms. Candyce. I am so blessed to have wonderful friends like Mr. Donnie who look after and care for my cattle with the same compassion I try to show them. It makes it much easier when I am away from the ranch a few times each year to leave when I know I have men like him looking after things.

  12. J.D.,
    As I read this wonderful post, I thought of how sometimes God draws sinners to salvation in our churches, and we don’t think they fit in too well. Oh, we clap to welcome them in, but instead of “feeding” them (and often one-on-one discipleship is needed), we leave them “to die in the pasture”. I found this thought so convicting. God forgive us!

    1. Amen Ms. Gena! I love seeing how God is using His words to bring so many lessons to us in this one simple act of kindness and goodness by one of His children. I love also how each of here are finding a different lesson in the same message. Oh to be used for His glory. 🙂 God’s blessings ma’am.

    1. Thank you Ms. Beckie. I pray each day that God will help me to become the man so many of my friends here believe me to be. What a blessing it is to be able to share with each of you each week. I hope I continue to be worthy of your support and encouragement. God’s blessings

  13. Hanging on every word to find out what happened to Rowdy. Hope you tell us more in a future article! But for today I thought about how many new Christians struggle with “defects” from past sin, past hurts, etc. that make it harder for them to ingest God’s truth. And how a more mature Christian can take the role of Donnie and give them a bunch of extra care at the beginning…so they CAN grow and thrive.

    1. Amen Ms. Barb. I’ll be sure to keep everyone informed as to “Rowdy’s” progress. In fact, I’ll probably call my friend Mr. Donnie later today to do just that. And yes, Satan loves to try and use our past against us. He’s a master deceiver (the chief liar) and he’ll do anything he can to try and derail our faith. #StandStrong my sweet friend. Thank you so much for contributing to our conversation.

  14. I once nursed a thoroughbred foal whose mother died. His name was Fahrenheit. He survived. I have a 19-year-old cat now that I found (with 2 sisters) abandoned. I nursed them all with bottles as well. I would expect more of this from a woman, so a double blessing on Donnie. May God do something wonderful with this little bull-calf.

    1. Have done the same Ms. Jackie. I think gentleness is a spiritual fruit that is also given to us at birth. Yet, as with all spiritual fruit, we must cultivate it to help it grow and produce more fruit. Am so grateful to have friends like you, Mr. Donnie, and so many others who have a “gentle heart.” Being gentle and meek doesn’t mean soft or weak. It means we are more concerned with those around us than ourselves. God’s blessings ma’am.

  15. Thank you for this beautiful story of love and compassion that was shown for little Rowdy.
    May God show us all how to love others in the same way..
    God bless you and keep up your wonderful work. Thanks

    1. Thank you Ms. Joyce. Am glad you enjoyed the post ma’am. Thank you always for your kind words of encouragement. You keep reading and commenting, and I will do my very best to be worthy of your time to read each week. God’s blessings ma’am.

  16. J.D. thank you for posting this uplifting message to all of us this morning. Love the calf’s name…Rowdy…that and Mr. Donnie’s compassionate heart and willingness…but especially our God’s love of life is reason enough for each one of us to contemplate what message He wants us to learn from this beautiful story in the midst of surrounding fear and chaos. What a reminder we serve a God of order…a God who loves us and loves to hear the sound of our voices. Our God who is sovereign over all things.

    1. Absolutely Ms. DiAne. I too was blessed by the actions of my friend Mr. Donnie. Driving home from meeting “Rowdy”, I couldn’t help but praise God for the many blessings He brings into my life through others. God’s blessings ma’am; and thank you so much for being a part of our conversation. 🙂 I love it when you share your wisdom and insight my friend.

  17. A sweet story! I am so touched by Donnie’s concern for Rowdy. In the past few years, I’ve started to understand how the work/effort can be as much a reward, if not more, than the end result. I think it is important to find peace in the moment, instead of always dreaming about the result. The result is not guaranteed, anyway.

    1. Amen Ms. Robin. The only “guaranteed result” I know of is the one when we are sealed by the Holy Spirit upon our true salvation through Christ. If we do good works for His glory, then He’ll see that we are rewarded. It may not be in this lifetime, but this is but a vapor anyway isn’t it ma’am? God’s blessings.

  18. I love how this post encourages us to see with “God’s eyes” instead of our own. Often, we look through the lens of our own selfishness and comfort. Thanks for sharing!

  19. This is such a beautiful, heart-warming story. With all the darkness that’s going on in this world, I was so encouraged by the story of little Rowdy. May we all hear clearly the words God has put on our own hearts, and speak them with courageous hope.

    1. So glad you appreciated the article sir. I was just talking with Mr. Donnie; and he was telling me he plans to start hand-feeding “Rowdy” small amounts of solid food tomorrow, and just moved a little heifer calf with him to give him some company. I pray we all listen for those good words from godly sources and then pay them forward into others. God’s blessings sir. Looking forward to your debut next Monday evening on #PJNET TV.

  20. Wonderful post, JD. Thank you. And wonderful friend you have in Mr. Donnie who extended such kindness to one of God’s creatures. So grateful that Jesus sees value in and goes looking for the less than, the broken, and loves us, works with, and restores us.

    And oh, yes, “life and death are in the power of the tongue.” God spoke creation into existence and He is The Word. May our words be God guided, gracious, and life giving. Love your admonishments toward the end. -God bless you and yours, JD, and your friend.

    1. Thank for your all your kind words Ms. Rachael. Mr. Donnie and his dear wife have been such blessings in my family’s lives. We are just proud as punch to be able to support and share with one another. Love your “life and death” comment ma’am; so very true. May each of us endeavor to always “Speak Life!” God’s blessings my young friend.

  21. J.D., what a beautiful story of redemption. Thanks so much for sharing it. We made an appointment for our puppy to see a surgeon Friday. Praying his damage is limited to one shoulder. Your story encouraged me.

    1. Ms. Debbie, I am so hopeful that everything goes well with your surgeon and that your “Strider” has a long, happy, and healthy life ma’am. We become so attached to our “furry family” that it’s often hard to discriminate between them and other loved ones. At least it is for me sometimes. I do hope you continue praying for God’s guidance as you move toward reaching a godly decision ma’am. God’s blessings.

  22. Christian ranchers. I never knew what a blessing they were and the extent of the sacrifices they make until last year when I visited a ranch. You’ve been a blessing to me, J.D., so many times. Once again you’ve touched my heart and made me weep. Weep for love God has for us with all our imperfections. Weep for the compassion God has placed into the fabric of Christian ranchers who give of their finances and their precious time and energy when they are already exhausted beyond words. I am moved by the photo of Rowdy being fed affording me just a smidge of how God cares so deeply for us, His beloved flawed creatures. Your teaching matters. May your friend, Donnie, be blessed by God in exponential ways.

    1. Such kindness Ms. Karen. Your weeping gives away the gentleness in your heart sweet friend. Know that I never pray my words cause folks to weep, but I do pray God can use them to bring joy, encouragement, understanding, correction, and peace. And those things are the things I hope He brings to me also. I’m so pleased you enjoyed the article about my dear friend and brother in Christ Mr. Donnie. I’m hoping to go and visit with him (just a couple of miles away) and “Rowdy” this week. God’s blessings ma’am.

  23. J.D., this is such a wonderful story of compassion and tender care. I pray Rowdy continues to thrive.
    I saw your picture of him standing in the trough eating solid food. Praise the Lord!
    So true— baby Christians need to transition from milk to solid food in order to grow and mature.
    Thanks for this sweet post showing such care and hope and its important spiritual message.

  24. A lovely story, J.D. I’m thankful Mr. Donnie stepped in and gave Rowdy the attention he needed and hope he continues to do well. I’m also thankful that we all have value in God’s kingdom.

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