“Is there really a magazine called Homeopathy Today?” asked Violet Towne, when she saw me putting together this post. I’m afraid to say, dear Cowpokes, that the answer is yes, there is. Will they ever really feature our patron on the cover? Only time will tell. All we can say for sure is that homeopathy is so utterly bonkers that literally any nutso idea you can think of is a completely feasible candidate.

Well then, let’s not tarry. Yes, another year has vertiginously whirled past and the Cow keeps meandering along, even though blogging is apparently dead (or so I’m told) and everyone now hangs out on Facebook. Which is also dead (or so I’m told) and now everyone hangs out on Snapchat and WhatsApp and Twitter. It has to be said, that I’ve slacked off somewhat from blogging over this last year as I’ve sensed the drifting away from the form. I can’t tell whether it’s a general ennui that’s to blame, or whether I’ve become less interesting with my posts, or if it’s just the way things go. No matter – I continue to do what I’ve always done with Tetherd Cow, which is, as you know, to pen thoughts and observations as I see fit, generally for my own amusement, and sometimes serendipitously to the entertainment of others.

I’ve had a pretty good year, as it happens, with much creative satisfaction. Among other things, I completed a very successful crowdfunding campaign for my Watching Europa project, took a trip to the NSW country town of Parkes where I spoke about my artwork and participated in a wonderful kids’ imaginative adventure, and, recently, finished the commission of a new musical work for the 25th anniversary of the atmospheric music radio programme Ultima Thule (which will premiere this month).

I’m glad to say that the Cow’s readership still trickles along at around a hundred people. A good dozen read the posts regularly without commenting, and another dozen of you participate reasonably vocally in the comments. The remaining fifty percent or so tune in haphazardly, but regularly, evidently amused enough to stick around. ((A special shout-out to the NSA! Way to go dudes!)) To you all I offer my thanks – your friendship visible and invisible is a fun part of my life. I hope the coming year treats you well, and that you continue to find a few spare minutes every now and then to stop by the Cow.

But enough of all that, let’s not stand on ceremony! Believe it or not, today we’ve arrived at the 9th Annual Rasputin Poetry Contest! ((Technically the 7th I suppose, since the inaugural year and the following weren’t actually declared as such. The fact is indisputable, however, that the poems have been flying for 8 years.)) There won’t be many of you by now who don’t know what that means, but, for the record, everyone should refresh themselves with The Rules.

Let the jousting commence! (And let’s see ANYONE compose a worthwhile limerick in 140 characters! #suckonthattwitter)

[One small apology – I’m still encountering some kind of data overload on the TCA servers, which means page reloads can sometimes be slow. Please bear with any lagging. I’ve been trying to fix this problem for the best part of a year but we’re still stymied. The whole thing has something to do with the fact that the Cow has now been running for over a decade and has a whopping database. I can remedy it instantly by moving up to a VPN, but it’s a rather costly solution for something that is really only a hobby. In 2014 I’ll be looking at other possible ways to resolve it.

Also, the Comment Moderation has become somewhat Draconian of late, so if you post something and it doesn’t appear immediately, email me and I’ll whitelist you. I’ll be monitoring all through New Year’s Day, so as to allow the festivities to have some snap.]