The night was dark and stormy ...
At least it was forecast to be, so I went straight home from work, flicked the heat pump on, turned the soup in the crockpot on high and layered up in scarves and coats and hats (yes multiple, a cap to keep the rain off my glasses and a woolly hat to keep the cold out of my brain) and launched forth to make sure the livestock were safe and fed and warm.
The chooks were easily pleased with a scoop of pellets and they were delighted with the contents of the chook bucket - although more enthusiastic about the toast crusts from breakfast than last night's potato peelings.
The sheep were okay-ish about their pile of hay but would rather have had the chook pellets. The goat wasn't anywhere to be seen but would no doubt turn up to raid the horses' hay at some point.
The horses were a tougher crowd. They were fully enthused with their pile of hay - each, no sharing - but when it came to the "warm" part there were mixed reactions.
Sunny the Welsh pony ignored me the entire time I was putting his winter cover on him. He neither co-operated nor protested, focused as he was on stuffing as much hay as possible into himself before the big horses finished theirs and eyed his.
Booger-Face - who used to be called Chalkie until he decided to decorate his forehead by running into a tree, leaving a wound that seeped gore and made him just a tad repellent to look at - saw no point in having an extra rug.
He had one rug on all ready, he wasn't cold, and he just wanted to be left alone to eat, he pointed out, shuffling just out of my reach as I tried to be a responsible owner.
Despite his protests, I had read the forecast and decided he needed two rugs, not just one. In fact, I had decided he needed two rugs and a fleecy neck-warmer and a waterproof neck-cover. Or maybe two.
And I wanted it done as quickly as possible because it was getting wetter and colder and I was only wearing five layers myself, and suspected the rain had penetrated at least one of them.
Luckily Booger-Face is basically lazy so he gave in and let me take off his wet rug then pad him up in dry clothes till he looked like the Michelin horse, then I turned my attention to his little friend Bryn.
Bryn looked at me in complete horror.
He has specific requirements in life, Bryn does. At the top of the list is that anything velcro and all things that flap never touch him. Ever.
All he could see as I staggered towards him bearing two warm, dry horse covers and a neck cover and a shiny vest so he wouldn't get irritating rubs on his shoulders was ... an almighty bundle of flapping velcro.
Bryn fled, showering me with mud. Then he spun, returned to snort at me and fled again. Just in case I hadn't got the point the first time.
I floundered after him with my load of toasty warm horse-wear, making soothing noises, but he was having none of it.
Eventually my arms got tired and I put the rugs down and kept following him, gently reminding him it was all for his own good.
As I felt the rain penetrating layers two and three and trickle down inside my gumboots I used some stronger language. If I wasn't so caring, I thought, I'd leave him in his wet rug and go inside and put my slippers on and pour a wine.
It started to seem like a really good idea. A nice glass of red, I thought. A pinot noir, maybe ...
Just then Bryn, by way of evading capture, accidentally trotted into the small horse pen and I rushed up and slammed the gate. Trapped.
Changing his wet rug for two dry ones was like stuffing a reluctant toddler into a onesie with feet in it. A lot of the mud from his wet rug transferred itself to my coat, my hair and my face.
The rain penetrated the last two layers of my clothing and started to run down my back. When I put my arms up to do up his neck rug the icy water ran down my sleeves and into my armpits.
Smears of mud coated my glasses.
I could barely feel my fingers by the time I did up the last buckle, and it was pretty much dark.
Carrying the two wet, muddy rugs to the shed finished off any last vestige of clean or dry that still clung to my person.
My horses were now clean, dry, warm and fed and happy. I was filthy, drenched, freezing and my happiness level was questionable.
Getting to the house I could see hubby was home from work. I lumbered in, my coat weighted down with water and mud, my hair plastered to my muddy face, glasses smeared, socks wet.
Hubby turned. "Oh, there you are," he said. "Have you been out and fed the animals yet?"