The reason? Shelagh had to go to England to spend Christmas with her mother and, surprisingly, the invitation didn't extend to two horses, six sheep, two chickens, one dog and two cats. So I was volunteered to stay home and look after the farm. Paraphrasing Dr. McCoy, 'it's Christmas, Jim, but not as we know it.'
I toyed with the idea of simplifying mealtimes by moving a large trough into the house and having an 'open house' Christmas. A kind of Nativity barn feel with plenty of straw and no wise men. But that plan had to be abandoned due to a lack of Christmas spirit - none of the animals liked sharing and, as for party games, most preferred a game called 'let's see who's dominant' - a game which involved far too much head-butting for my liking.
So I've been running around - feeding, watering, exercising and mucking out far too many animals than one person can and still maintain a high level of chocolate and alcohol intake. Thank God Shelagh's coming back Wednesday night.
As for presents I've had four mice from the cats - none of them wrapped - and a stomach (probably mouse as well, but it's an ungrateful recipient who enquires too deeply about the provenance of his gifts) After all it's the thought that counts.