Feb 8: Eagles and Hoopoes at dawn and scrimishes in the garden, and vegetables for the Swedish Ambassador.
This morning at 6:30am, otherwise known as dawn- Ben was down in the lower quarry area of the garden contemplating the tasks of the day by himself as the fellows had not shown up as requested at that early hour. As he contemplated he realized he was being contemplated by a huge black eagle on the top of the ruined fortress above, like one of the al Saud warriors of old returned. After a few minutes it flew off with 4-5 foot wingspan. We think it was a Lesser Spotted Eagle, a common eagle in the Middle East, but fantastic to us. After a few minutes, 3 Hoopoes came and sat in exactly the same place the eagle was. Their long beaks, spots and crests are like a Dr Suess creature- incongruous on the ruined mud fortress.
So began the day with a contrast of stern and comical and so the day went forth in spasms of sterness and comicality. The fellows showed up at 7:00 and when Ben asked them why they were late, one of them immediately blew up and much words were said that much reduced mean telling someone off. Ben sent him home. After two hours he came back with tears and a hug and apologized to Ben. This is after the other one doing the basically the same thing minus tears and a hug after being asked to deviate from their self imposed work schedule of starting at 8:30, breaking at 9:00 for ½ hr for breakfast, and lunch at 11:30 until 2:30, prayer break at 3:00 for half hour and finish at 9:00 or earlier. It is unfortunate we don’t have crests to raise on our heads like the hoopoe bird.
We have planted 10 beds with beets, carrots, Japanese greens, arugula, radish, beans, eggplant, celery, alyssum, sunflowers, 4-o’clocks, orange cosmos and purple cleome. I’ve done a lot of weeding of very large weeds that were left from the time of Ben’s departure in Dec. We keep emphasizing prevention rather than reaction and that is it is easier to get the weeds before they go to seed, rather than let them go to seed and have more and more weeds which is what has happened forever and ever…….
We harvested 3 huge quantities of vegetables today- 1 for the Prince, 1 for the Swedish ambassador, and another for a very nice friend of the Prince’s who had me to her house for a delicious cake and visit to her garden. The array of vegetables that farm contains is amazing . A list will follow in the near future. Yesterday we harvested an array of the best of everything for the Saudi Minister of Agriculture, who had kindly hosted us on his farm the year before. We selected the most colorful and brilliant items of course.
Green parrots have discovered the sunflowers and fly down the not just harvest the seeds but tear of portions of the entire flower and eat them. Sometimes that fly with large pieces up into the near by trees to eat them in peace- if that application can be applied to parrots. They are apparently non-native and are escapees just like wild parrots in San Francisco. When the sun shines through their plumage they are brilliant chartuese.
The dragon flies came in numbers yesterday when we were all putting compost and fertilizer on the beds, perhaps attracted by the flies it drew. Several thousand of them flitted and flew around that end of the farm for over an hour obviously ferocious warriors on the wing.