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It happens when you least expect it. Things don’t turn out exactly as you had planned. In our case, we were planning to get two Kunekune pigs and a guard donkey for our farm.

My husband, Houston, and our daughter/Farm Manager, Emilie, researched the breed of pigs and visited the breeder’s farm. We thought about what we’d name them, read about what they like to eat and the kind of shelter they need. We had a plan.

Once we decided to get the pigs, we began talking about the kind of guard animal we wanted. A guard donkey was the logical choice, since they require very little training. Through social media, my husband was able to connect with someone who rescues donkeys. The man sent us a picture and told us that this female donkey was especially sweet. So began Houston’s research into jennies - plural for female donkeys.

Saturday, Dec. 28 arrived warm, but wet. Houston drove to Terrell to pick up the pigs, while I lay in bed sick. He met Emilie at our farm, where they welcomed our new jenny.

The next few days were so sweet as we got used to the animals and they became acclimated to their new home and to us. Then came the call from the man who rescued our first donkey, Ruth. He had just gotten another jenny with a mild temperament and wondered if we were interested.

We knew that donkeys are pack animals, meaning that they are happier if they have a companion, so we decided to welcome another jenny to our farm.

On New Year’s Day she arrived in a trailer, trembling and scared. As we talked with the rescuer, he mentioned that she might be pregnant. Sure enough, after she got out of the trailer, we noticed that she was much wider than Ruth.

No, we weren’t expecting to have a baby donkey on the property this soon, but it looks like it might be happening sometime in the next several months. We plan on having the vet out soon to confirm the pregnancy.

All this to say, the unexpected, the unplanned, is not my favorite. I feel most calm and peaceful when I am prepared for the task or situation at hand. Deviating from that plan invariably means extra work and more money. And often our focus is diverted from another area that needs attention. But if there’s anything I’m learning through having this farm, it’s that there will always be surprises, some unwelcome, but others that turn into happy surprises. While we hadn’t planned on getting another jenny quite so soon, she’s fitting in well and providing Ruth with some welcome companionship. And the birth of her foal will be, I am sure, a great learning experience for all of us.

How do you handle the unexpected? Do you have enough margin in your life, from a time, financial and focus standpoint, to accept surprise and take it in stride? Or does it completely stress you out?

Maybe you’re one of those people who love surprises, who thrive on spontaneity. If so, I’d love to know your secret.

Sherry Asbury Clark is Co-Founder of Purdon Groves and a freelance writer. Her column, Finding Myself in a Small Town, appears each week in the Corsicana Daily Sun. You may reach her at For more info on Purdon Groves, a farm, table, venue and retreat property, check out, visit their Instagram or Facebook pages.

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