My Corkscrewed Clown

A few months after delivering her first calf, my clown-faced cow “Lulu Belle” developed a debilitating foot problem called corkscrew claw. Thought to be hereditary, this Saler-Hereford cross is one of my favorite brood cows and is as gentle as they come. One of the few calves I got to name; she got her name because of the white tears under each eye. As a newborn calf, she looked up at me and those tears reminded me of the greasepaint clown tears you often see.

Corkscrew claw is a disease where the outside (distal) toe of a rear hoof twists; eventually placing the hoof’s sidewall in direct contact with the ground. The condition often begins to show itself with toes pointing inward instead of forward and leads to lameness due to improper distribution of weight within the toe. My large animal vet told me this disease is often hidden until after the first calf is born.

Almost always the first one to the feed trough, I first noticed her lagging behind the others. Two weeks later, she began to show signs of lameness. By the time I saw a noticeable limp, I knew it required investigation. Upon discovering the cause, I called the vet. Giving a pedicure to an 1,100 pound nursing mother is not something you normally try and do yourself. Unless you like getting kicked across the barn that is.

I’ll save you the challenge of getting a nursing mama to load onto a trailer without her calf; but after just one busted gate, we arrived a few minutes late. Dr. Sherman and his staff helped offload her and guided her to the tilt table. This hydraulic device allows the vet to secure the cow, and each leg to a vertical table. The cow is then laid onto its side so it can be evaluated and treated, ensuring safety for both staff and patient.

After evaluating her hoof, he began trimming off over three inches of excess. Then, the electric grinder came out, to remove more material and dress the hoof. That’s when the extent of the injury became apparent. Having walked on the outside of her hoof for several weeks, the interior hoof wall cracked and her foot became infected. Cleaning out all of the infection was a nasty, foul-smelling job, but necessary to allow healing.

Once the wound was packed with copper sulfate and a dressing applied, “Doc” gave her a shot of strong antibiotics and she was loaded for the trip back home to her baby. We kept her and her calf separated from the others for 10 days to allow healing to begin by keeping her out of the pond. Lulu’s favorite thing to do in the summer is to make her way to the “Texas Hot Tub” every afternoon and lounge neck deep in the stock pond for a few hours.

As I watched Lulu Belle closely over the next week, I kicked myself for not realizing the extent of her injury sooner. My lack of knowledge could’ve resulted in losing my sweet cow. While praying for her complete healing, God reminded me of the importance of using His gift of discernment in my life. I never considered how it applies to caring for my livestock.

I thought about how often we view others on what we see and not what we sense through the Holy Spirit. The spiritual gift of discernment (1 Corinthians 12:10 and Hebrews 5:14) allows Christians to judge well. For me, it manifests itself as the ability to sense when something, or someone, isn’t right.

Someone’s inside condition can be much worse than what you see. Complete healing happens from the inside out. Click To Tweet

The Holy Spirit reminded to me how His gift of discernment can be used to “sniff out” good versus bad, right versus wrong. Just as the infected material in Lulu’s foot had a distinct color and odor, God developed an instinctual ability to discern situations and people in me. While it’s not perfect, I’ve learned to heed those overwhelming feelings of despair, danger, and discomfort.

Those emotions become beacon lights to show me when something isn’t right about a situation. When it comes to people I meet, I see colored auras around them. In the same way my cow’s infection was hidden deep inside and had to be uncovered, we often do the same with our sins. Others may not see them, but be assured someone will sense them. Remember too that we can’t hide from God.

As I’ve learned to understand these spiritual cues, I often sense danger, sincerity, falsehoods and fake emotions, and desperation. In using the spiritual gifts God has blessed me with, I’ve been able to discern when to use caution or reach out to help someone troubled.

God used a lame cow to remind me of His gifts in my life. I treasure the myriad of ways He shows me His direction, patience, and love. My fervent hope is that you allow God to show you how to use one of the spiritual gifts He’s blessed your life with.

God’s blessings,

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44 thoughts on “My Corkscrewed Clown

  1. Your lessos from cattle continue to amaze me. Spiritual cues and discernment from a suffering cow. The outside often reflects so much of what’s going on inside. Thanks for much to digest today.

    1. Very true Ms. Marilyn. Sometimes hurting people can be very visible. We can’t always know what’s going on inside of someone though. I think that’s why God shares His gift of discernment with us. He allows us to “look deeper” so we can help lead people to His complete healing. Great thoughts ma’am. Thank you! 🙂

  2. It’s been several weeks since I’ve had time to read your posts. Doing so this morning made me realize how much I miss them. You bring me out onto the ranch and gently teach me something about cattle, God and myself. I am grateful.

  3. This is a beautiful lesson. With faith and trust in God we can all heal. Hope Lulu is completely healed and healthy. God’s blessings be with you.

  4. She does look like a clown, but a cute one even with painted tears. 🙂 Another powerful analogy. The outside is often misleading as we try to keep the outside of the cup “clean” and pristine. But underneath it all our sins are still there. The Holy Spirit desires to “make her (the bride of Christ) holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word” (Ephesians 5:26)

    1. Amen Ms. Karen. I see folks, many who claim to be Christians, paste on a fake smile and try to appear strong, faith-filled, and righteous. My heart breaks though when the Spirit reveals to me how badly they’re hurting. I pray each day that God brings me someone I can encourage, pray for, or help strengthen their faith in some other way. God’s blessings my friend.

  5. Discernment is an important gift God gives us. I also have the gift of discernment as well. I didn’t understand it at first, but have come to appreciate it. Thank you for your post today. I have had a lot of family situations going on which have kept me out of town and busy. It was good to read your posts again.

    1. I’m so glad you were able to join in our conversation today Ms. Stephanie. Have been praying about your family situations; and asking God’s blessings for all your efforts. I find that while I’ve learned to trust those instinctual feelings, I’m learning more about how God can guide my life through His gifts each day. Thank you for your encouraging words ma’am.

  6. God’s lessons are everywhere, J. D., when we take the time to look. I’m so glad that Lulu Belle is on the mend – she has such a sweet face! And discernment, for sure, is one of God’s greatest gifts.
    Blessings!

    1. It sure is Ms. Martha. While I usually keep what God shows me about folks to myself, I’m pretty certain many know what God has shown me about your heart ma’am. What a blessing it is to call you friend and sister in Christ.

    1. Yes ma’am. That Lulu Belle is something special. I get such a kick out of how she nuzzles me each morning. It’s as though she’s say “I love you Papa.” You can’t help but stop and thank God for all His blessings in moments like that.

  7. Wow! How do pull such amazing lessons from every day life, J.D.? I think you are incredibly discerning? God has given you many gifts, friend.

    Peace and grace,
    Tammy

    P. S. I’m so glad LuLu Belle is healthy again.

    1. I’m glad she is too Ms. Tammy. I’m warned that this can happen regularly now that it started, so I’ll be watching for it. With her and her calf. Of course, she had a little boy this year. He’ll fulfill his destiny as a steer in another year or so. As for how I come up with the lessons I share? I just leave it up to God. 🙂

  8. That was an interesting post! I’ve cared for horses who’ve had hoof problems and it takes vigilance.
    As far as using the gifts that God gave us, I believe mine is teaching kids. Even with all the obstacles the government puts in our way, I have to find a way around to serve the Lord.
    I hope your little clown girl heals perfectly – and that is God’s gift.

    1. I believe you’re right Ms. Jackie. You are a wonderful teacher and have such a gentle way with children. What a blessing ma’am. Please remember that you have many wonderful spiritual gifts, and when you use them together, wonderful blessings abound my sweet friend.

  9. Such a wonderful reminder and confirmation for me. My daughter just gave birth to her first child and while the doctors told them certain things, there were some things that just didn’t sit right with me. Not wanting to butt in I kept it to myself only to find out they were told the wrong thing and what Holy Spirit was nudging me about was in fact from Him. I learned my lesson! I will mention it and allow them to listen or not!!

    1. Thank you Ms. Ann. I’ve long said, “Where science fails, God prevails.” The best scientific data and methods cannot overcome the wisdom and knowledge of the Creator. Like you, I’ve trusted doctors, lawyers, and folks much more intelligent than me, even when the very fiber of my being was telling me they were wrong. I’m still learning to trust my instincts ma’am. God’s blessings.

  10. What a great story! I loved all the details about Lulu Belle and her lameness. And the lesson from this story is so apt as we seek to be discerning Christians! I pray Lulu Belle will recover completely!!

    1. Thank you very much Ms. Kathy. Grateful you enjoyed the post ma’am. God teaches us great lessons out here in “His country.” Lulu Belle has recovered nicely, but was warned it was recurring sometimes, so I’ll be watching closely now that I know what to watch for. Learning to trust God’s leading does become instinctual the more we surrender ourselves to Him. Very well said indeed ma’am. So glad you’re a part of our conversation. God’s blessings ma’am.

  11. God is so wise in using a plethora of ways to teach us. Cows, horses, dogs, bugs, weeds–everything in God’s creation, He uses to teach us. But you point out a really important point. We must be ready to look and listen so that we don’t miss these valuable lessons. Glad LuLu Belle is recovering and that you were receptive to the lesson and shared with us.

    1. So very true Ms. Katherine. God, the Creator of All, has a limitless capacity to speak to us, show us His truths, and communicate with us. I believe, like you I think, that He’s always out there offering His wisdom to us so we might come to know Him better. The key, as you point out, is that we have to be willing to listen. It seems that the closer I become to God, my Abba Father, the more I can hear and understand. Thank you for all your encouragement, prayers, and support. I am truly blessed in this life to be able to share it with other Christian brothers and sisters like you. It makes a body want to help more find their way to God so our family can grow larger and more impactful for Him.

    1. OMGoodness Ms. Barbara. His living water certainly does cleanse our innermost and removes the stubborn stains of sin. Thank you so much for keying on that important point ma’am. Removing the infection of sin for our soul requires strong medicine too ma’am. It’s called Grace! Hallelujah! We can be cleansed through our Savior, Jesus Christ. I’m moved to tears when I think of all He’s done for me.

  12. You had me smiling and chuckling all through this story, J.D. A mama cow has maternal instincts that contain wise lessons. She sounds very special, especially the way she gives you a nuzzle.

    And I love how you wove in your gift of discernment–I can also relate to that–and how God used it for LuLu Belle’s healing. Every day I pray for God’s wisdom, discernment, understanding, and knowledge. Such priceless gifts!
    Blessings, my friend.

    1. You and me both Ms. Karen. I thank God every day that he led my wife and I to this little “peace” of land. We’ve grown so much closer to God in these past seven years; and it is such a blessing to be His “caretaker.” It’s a duty that I hold almost sacred. To care for the land and creatures He spoke into creation is such an honor. I like to think that I glorify Him by caring for His creations.

  13. Like I said in PJNET before I read your blog, “You can’t always judge a book by its cover.”
    People saw me after both of my cancer surgeries and said how good I looked. I usually just smiled and thanked them. But after awhile, I started saying, “That’s why you don’t judge a book by it’s cover.”
    Thanks JD for your tilt-table talk!

    1. So very true Mr. Ben. Without God’s gift of discernment, we can never perceive what is happening within someone. I think back to ambushes I avoided, problems I side-stepped, and challenges I didn’t have to face in life, and I thank God for His precious gift. It’s one I am still developing, as I’ve walked headlong into far too many problems because I didn’t heed the warning, but at least I’m still around to grow. 🙂 God’s blessings sir.

  14. I agree that we need God’s discernment in every area of our lives because He sees and knows what we do not. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Oooo, lots of responses from a wonderful and educational J. D. insight. I’m so glad you got that clowny cow fixed up. I love the photo of her taped up foot. My husband calls it the “red badge of courage” when I do it to my dog. Guess Lulu’s would be the “hot pink badge of courage!” Sounded like no easy task. Another lesson in there is that sometimes Daddy DOES know what’s best! I believe the more I am aware of God’s gift of discernment in my life, the stronger it grows. Praise Him for this spiritual gift allowing us to tune into the Holy Spirit.

    1. Lulu Belle was not as pleased about the bandaged foot. Especially when I tried to remove it less than a week later. She kicked me good. After a few tries, I finally decided to let it wear off by itself. LOL But yes, I love how God is always willing to help us grow His gifts in our lives. Faith is like a muscle in that the more you use it, the stronger it grows. 🙂

    1. Thank you Ms. Robin. I think all my “girls” are beautiful, but I guess every “Papa” does. I pray my Father in heaven feels the same way about me. 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed the lesson ma’am; and am ever grateful that His Holy Spirit helps us to see what is sometimes laying below the surface. His gift of helping us sense when others need His divine help, gives us the opportunity to serve Him. God’s blessings young lady; and “Hey” to Mr. James.

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