But sometimes her instinct to hunt is overridden by something else that I can't quite figure out. This little guy for example:
It's a young possum. I came home on my bicycle one night to find Mira waiting in the front yard, and as soon as she saw me she skipped back through the gate and began pacing back and forth along the rim of the recessed landing by my front door. The possum was down in the recessed landing, wandering in a circle, trying to figure out how to climb back out again. Every time it went near the stairs it saw Mira and went back the other way.
I stepped past it - causing it to run into the corner - and opened my front door and brought out a pair of welding gloves, then walked up to the little animal and scooped it up. It didn't bite, or struggle. I carried it into the back yard (with Mira trailing behind me) and set it on the plum tree, so it could climb up over the fence and escape if it wanted, or just hide in the foliage away from the cat. I took a picture, then Mira sat down a few yards away and watched it move cautiously into hiding.
Now, Mira's killed plenty of things - two birds and two mice that I've seen, and probably a lot more that I haven't - but she didn't seem to be aggressive toward the possum, just curious. Maybe it was the smell of the creature, or maybe the relative size. Or maybe it was stuck between her and the cat door, and she wanted to go inside, and they were in a standoff until I showed up. Perhaps if Mira could articulate it, she'd be telling me, "Thank goodness you're home! Now get this smelly little cat out of my way so we can go inside!"
One thing is certain though - my back yard is a local hotspot for foraging wildlife, on account of the avocados that constantly fall from the tree:
As part of my battle with the squirrels I needed to trim the avocado tree back from the roof, so they couldn't use it as a freeway system. "The Forestree Company" came out and scrambled all over the place, like so:
... And the branches they cut down gave me a bumper-crop of avocados to eat!
The rest of the trimmings went into their wood-chipper for easy removal:
And that got one item off the ever growing to-do list, at least. I'm certain there will come a season when I'm doing these chores for the third, or fifth, or tenth time, and perhaps by then I'll be sick of it, or I'll have everything delegated to other people and move to something else before I ever get bored. But for now, it's all pretty interesting. I'm discovering that there's an ongoing negotiation to be made, between the materials and resources you use to maintain a dwelling a certain way, and the amount of distortion you're comfortable making to the environment around it. Like: How much do I trim trees? Do I use weed killer? Do I trap pests in the basement, or find a better way to seal them out? Do I let birds nest in the eaves or gutters, or seal them off, or put wire over them, or make designated areas for nesting and wire the rest? Do I put wire around my plants, or get a greenhouse, or choose different plants? There are hundreds of personal choices to make here. Hundreds of ways to assert myself, if I make the time.
For example. I put up new mailboxes that lock, because local thieves were pilfering the mail. The mailboxes have a tiny mounting hole in the bottom that's open to the air, and they're dark and dry inside, so after a few months I got a tribe of spiders living in mine. Every time I remove the mail, the mama spider retreats behind her web until I seal the door again. Last month her eggs all hatched:
I don't know exactly how they manage it, but even though I've retrieved the mail a dozen times since then, I never find a single spider lingering on the envelopes. That's surprisingly polite of them. I could have chosen to exterminate them in a second, but ... well, there's just something I like about spiders.
Another surprise: Two years running, this fungus has popped up in the same place in my back yard:
Here's this years' version:
The internet tells me these are edible if you get to them early enough in the growing cycle. Can't say I'm eager to test it though!