The Latest Report on Sir Richard’s death toll

Sir Richard the Destroyer is a killing machine. He has a spot out in front of the barn, where the septic mound’s long grass folds over the mesh of fence panel and makes a lovely tunnel for rodents, and here he sits, watching these little holes. He waits.

IMG_5343He doesn’t need to hide. He can sit in the long grass and barely be seen, a ninja. Often, I will catch a glimpse of him leaping from one spot to another, or just see the black tip of his tail twitching while he pokes around in the grass for whatever he is tormenting now.

About three weeks ago, he brought us his first Dead Rodent Gift. We came home from running errands to find him sitting at the bottom of the house steps, proudly displaying his mauled victim at his feet.

I showered him with praise and affection in return. He doesn’t know that DRGs are not the best gifts for humans. He had gone to all that effort to catch and kill the thing, and then he had decided that he wouldn’t keep it for himself. Sharing is caring, after all. That, and I want him to be motivated to hunt. We live in the countryside, in a nation where it is normal to have space under your house for things to live, and if he can keep the population down, that would be smashing.

It would also be good to keep the mouse and bird levels in our barns to a minimum, so Richard’s hunting skills are always met with love and adoration from me.

Then a few days later, he brought me another DRG. This one actually made it into the house with him, as he tricked me into opening the door for him before I realised he had it. He took it to the spare bathroom, where I feed him. I wondered what on earth he was messing with for a moment, before I heard – before I heard the little rodent corpse explode. When I went to investigate, already despairing at what I would find, he looked up at me cheerfully. He batted at the body a couple of times as if to demonstrate what a good killer he is.

“Yes, good kitten,” I said, trying not to vomit at the smell of rodent bile. To show my appreciation, I wrapped the corpse in paper and threw it out, and then bleached everything.

IMG_6051Richard brought three or four DRGs back last week. Cowboy sent me a photo of the first one, and updated the death toll when I got home a few days later.

Nowhere was safe. When I went to the bathroom, a toy mouse would be shoved under the door to entertain me while I flossed. The dog’s bed was decorated with Walmart cat toys – tiny, luminous coloured mice that have been chewed and thrown about so much that they just look like neon blobs now. Richard mapped out the best spots in the house to survey both the interior and exterior landscape for potential prey.

Inevitably, he would resume his little outpost by the septic mound fence. His patience is enviable. I can’t spend that much time focusing on one thing without losing a piece of my mind in the process. Most human beings these days can’t sit for that long without checking Facebook at least eighteen times. Richard would just wait.

Last weekend he upped his DRG game. He brought his treasure to the door and knocked. He literally knocks on the door when he wants to come inside. I peered through the glass to see what he was doing. He knocks a little differently when he has a DRG. My suspicions were confirmed: we had a body.

I didn’t open the door. We were heading out to the barn and I decided dealing with the ritual of praise would wait a moment longer. I faffed about, and finally was ready to go outside. I informed Cowboy about the fatality in the porch.

“Are you sure? It’s not there now.” He looked around, shaking his head. “I don’t see it. Sure it was dead?”

“Quite sure,” I said. I checked for myself, but the DRG had vanished. Perhaps Richard had eaten it. I pulled on my left boot. I went to pull on my right boot. My foot touched something small and soft and still slightly warm. I said “OH AHAHAHA EEWWnnnnnngh… Nooooo…”

“Mouse?” Cowboy said, grinning. I tipped my boot up.  *whomp*

IMG_6140It landed on the mat. I sighed. “Yes, good kitten…” The body was disposed of again. I uttered several phrases of disbelief that Richard had gone to the trouble of putting it in my boot. The boot is taller than him. He would have had to deliberately pick it up, stand up on his hind feet, and drop it into the boot.

Well, this evening I checked in with Cowboy on the phone. We covered the usual stuff, and I listened as he threatened Richard with death for chewing on his phone cable. Then he remembered the important news.

“You might want to get new Muck Boots,” he said.

“Me? They’re new. What happened?”

“I’ve pulled out a few more dead things from them the last couple of days. You’d better check ’em when you go to put them on this weekend.”

I feel so loved.


Things that happened today

I lay in bed for over an hour after the alarm went off and asked Cowboy if I could stay and hide in bed all day. He said no. He’s cruel sometimes.

The cat managed to lick me right on the eyelid, even though I’ve been trying to make him understand that I don’t like it when he licks my face. The licky little ninja.

I went outside and discovered Sunshine being the perfect horse for a two year old girl. She really is pretty special to let a small child lead her all over the field without batting an eyelid.

We went to the ocean and I collected sea glass for some unknown reason. What will I do with sea glass?

I finally met a number of Cowboy’s family members whose names I know but whose faces were brand new to me. They were full of kind and positive things.

Enough people came to my house at one time that they used all of my mugs. My house is not big enough for this many people, but it happened somehow.

We switched the heating on. Winter is coming.

My brother and sister arrived in town and we embarrassed my brother at a Mexican restaurant. It involved a sombrero and singing Happy Birthday, loudly.

My good friend from Minneapolis arrived in town and we realised we haven’t really spoken in about two years, and it was so awesome to see each other again.

The cat got in to a tin that I hadn’t washed out yet and now his face smells like food.

I think Cowboy has been abducted.

13 days in

I’ve been in the US for 13 days. I have finally got a US phone number, and waved a sad goodbye to the phone number that I have had since my very first phone, the trusty Nokia 5110 with the changeable covers…

I’ve cleaned all the things – most things more than once, and the dirt keeps coming. It doesn’t help that we have a juvenile feline who likes to shred anything he can get his adorable little paws on. We invested in a laser pointer in the last few days, just to keep him busy.

Cowboy and kitten ❤️Sometimes we can wear him out, just for a moment.

I’ve started to learn where everything lives in the supermarkets. I’ve learned that you can’t get anything for a good price without giving up your personal information and getting the store club card.

I have a pile of recycling in my kitchen and my shed because I haven’t yet deciphered the recycling system. It involves crates with very similar contents listed on them. How exactly do “scrap paper” and “newspaper” differ in any significant way? Why is there no crate for plastic? It is mystifying.

I have fed Cowboy some real food and he has repaid me with some manual labour, heavy lifting and getting up early to get the horses in while I snooze for another hour or two.

The horses have been a joyous challenge to me. Sunshine is teaching me about how to say “I mean it!” and our new addition, Beau, is teaching me about lightness. Sunshine has been so desensitised that you could do just about anything with her and she barely blinks, which is wonderful for keeping people safe, but it also means she needs a louder cue. Beau is so light and responsive to anything and everything that just thinking something seems to be enough for him.

His little quirk is that he has spent so much of his 4 years in the arena, he has no idea how to pick up his feet. So we spent some time teaching him the other night.

After a good ride on Sunshine this evening, I got to sit and watch the sunset, and look at Mount Baker, the moon, and these two figuring things out.It took him a few goes to catch on.

There is something magical about watching this little horse think something through for the first time. He tries so hard. He wants the right answer, and when he understands the question properly, he is ready for anything.

It was a beautiful evening, and it reminded me why I came here. Me, the cowboy, horses and the fresh air. I am so lucky.

Last minute

It is rapidly becoming the last minute. I am down to last minute meetings, last minute socialising, last minute packing, last minute shopping, last minute panicking, etc etc.

Today has mostly been about last minute hair dye, as I realised it must be almost a year since my mother slapped henna (I use Caca Rouge from Lush, and have done so for over ten years) all over my head and I propped myself up for several hours while the mud did its miracle thing on my hair.

With what feels like several tonnes of goop and clingfilm on my head at the moment, my neck is rather sore. That may have something to do with the killer upper body workout that Mark the Magician made me do this morning. His trainers matched the walls of the gym today. I was rather impressed, but I don’t think it was intentional.

“Rather than mess about with more reps,” he said, as I sipped water in a recovery break between push presses, “how about we just build up this weight to about that of a saddle?” This man has paid close attention to my goals, and I love him for it.

If I can now push 60lbs over my head three times, without dying immediately, hopefully I can avoid the shame of flinging Cowboy’s saddle, forcefully and enthusiastically, into the side of my horse instead of over her back.

I’ve also ended up doing some last minute bonding with this little monster, who has spent the last nine months completely ignoring me.

She has finally realised that I will scratch her ears, rub her belly and bump heads with her at her every whim.

I’ll even feed her. I’m that kind of cat person.



I think she might be a little sad when I leave, if she even notices, of course.

MarmiteI’m not really going to miss her needle sharp claws being dug (with love) into my legs, arms, neck, feet, fingers, etc.

She can be a little over zealous with her affection.

She also likes to dribble on me when she’s really enjoying the bonding session. Then she likes to shake her head and spray the dribble all over me, and whatever it is I’ve been doing whilst petting her. Thanks, Marmite…

You love her or you hate her. Her name really is appropriate.


Tomorrow, I head off to Terminal 5 at Heathrow for my flight to the US. I have packed my suitcase with determined efficiency, using a new packing technique (new to me, at least), and I have crammed in a huge amount of stuff into one suitcase and one cabin bag.
Sadly, there wasn’t really enough space for this monster. She tried.

It is at about this point, when the trip looks very real and inevitable, that I get some nerves. I look at my packed bags and feel certain that I am forgetting something utterly vital and irreplaceable.

I also have to tidy up my bedroom before I leave. Something about coming home to a chaotic room is very unsavoury to me. I’ll have to hoover and put everything away before going to bed tonight, and in the morning I will probably change my bed sheets so that when I get back, a month from now, everything will be ready.

A fair amount hinges on this trip. Life could be extremely different in just a few short weeks.