Monday, November 1, 2010

Some scenes of tourist sites taken in October Jordan Farmer to Farmer Assignment

This mosaic mural depicts the site where it is believed that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. The bottom part of the photo shows four columns with an arch overhead. It is believed the baptism took place at this location. If you click on the photo it will zoom to show more detail. The course of the river changed due to an earthquake and does not now flow in this area. Diggings located the four pillars and they are shown in the next photo.

The River Jordan flowed from top to bottom in this photo.

A building has been erected to protect some of the many artifacts discovered near the baptismal site.

Observation decks are located on each side of the Jordan River where tourists can get close to the river. This view shows the one on the Israeli side. The site had been guarded by military until 1994 and no one was permitted in this area. There is lots of building taking place there now as tourists are beginning to flock to the site.

Ruins from the City of Gerasa as it was called in the Bible are found in current day Jerash, a city of 400,000 about 45 minutes north of Amman. The city thrived from 100 A.D. until after falling to the Ottoman Empire in 1200's.

The ruins at Jerash are some of the largest in the world. There were many outdoor amphitheaters, coliseums, temples and market places there. It was a major shopping and trade center between Damascus and Amman.

The River Jordan seperates Jordan and Israel. During the times of conflict
between the two countries it was guarded by the military and much of the
land was mined with explosives. Since 1994 the region has been under
study to locate historical sites.
I am shown here at the Jordan River near the site where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.

The Jordan River is believed to have changed course since the time of the baptism due to an earthquake years ago.

Amman is fairly well westernized and has many fast food places such as Burger King, Hardees, and next door was a Popeyes Chicken.

It was interesting to see a wall mural featuring Historic U.S. 66 painted on the wall inside Burger King.

One evening at the farm we had a real feast featuring lots of vegetables cooked with chicken in a 55 gallon barrel buried in the soil where hot coals were left from burning some limbs and the coals were left to cook the chicken and vegetables for two hours. It was really tasty and enjoyed by all. The fellows who did the cooking were all from Egypt.

This photo was taken at Aqaba on the Red Sea. I had an opportunity to go there with my host to tour the city and to eat fresh fish. It is located about an hour away from the farm.

Vegetable production near Wadi Rum

Green beans are being picked by hand. The long growing season allows for many pickings over a long period of time. Once a crop is finished successive plantings are made in the same field.

Potatoes were being harvested while I was on assignment in October. Due to the shortage of potatoes in Europe from drought conditions prices were very high for immature potatoes. Because the skins were so tender, it was necessary to pull the plants by hand and pick up the potatoes and place them in boxes for shipment to markets. Normally machines are used to harvest the potatoes after reaching full maturity.

The sandy soils in the desert are ideal for growing high quality potatoes
and harvesting can occur as early as 85 days after planting. Irrigation is done with center pivots systems.

Workers would pull up to two or three rows of plants with the potatoes then removed by hand and placed between the rows to dry in the sunshine for a few hours before being placed in boxes holding 7 kilograms (15.4 pounds) per box.

There was a shortage of workers for harvesting potatoes while I was there. It really takes a strong back to handle the work as the plants were heavy with moisture and with high yield. Of course the sun was providing intense heat!

The view of the desert with the magnificent pink rock formations is a sight to behold! It was in this region where the movie "Lawrence of Arabia" was filmed.

These quality potatoes are ready for shipment. They are not washed nor handled anymore because of the tender skins. I was told the sand would dry and fall off during transportation leaving a shiny clean potato for purchase at the market. Many other vegetables such as onions and tomatoes, squash are also grown here. Fruit crops include grapes, apricots. figs, peaches, pears, cherries and more. When I was there in June many were ripening at that time--Yummy!

Corn silage production and marketing in Jordan

Corn silage is being grown in the desert in southern Jordan using center pivots to supply water from an aquifer that also supplies water for fruit and vegetable production. Pipelines are now being installed to pump water from this area into Amman some 330 kilometers north. The growing season is long starting in early March and extending until late November. It is possible for two crops of corn silage to be grown on the same land in one year.

At the present time long maturity varieties are grown in the region, however it is recommended that newer genetics that mature up to one month earlier will use less water without sacrificing yield.
The corn is harvested when the dry matter of the total plant is near 33 percent and is chopped with modern equipment. The silage is trucked a short distance to the horizontal silo where it is packed tightly and allowed to ferment rapidly to preserve high nutrient quality.

After the silage has fermented at least 45 days it is then removed from storage and is placed into a stationary baler where it is shaped into a large bale.

Silage will spoil quickly if allowed to remain in contact with air, so the baling operation is done rapidly.

An operator contols the hydraulic pressure applied to the bale as it is being formed. Once it reaches desired size a net wrap coveres the bale.

The baler is stationary and powered by electricity.

Once the net wrapped bale moves onto the finishing platform a plastic film is stretched over the bale as it is rotated in position allowing at least two and a half wraps to cover the bale insuring a tight wrap which preserves the bale for up to one year.

Net wrapping is being applied in this photo.

When the bale is fully wrapped it is allowed to roll down a ramp
onto a sand pad where it in then picked up for transportation to the bale storage yard. Each bales weighs up to one tonne (2240 pounds).

The bale is carefully picked up and transported to storage.

Bales are stored in the storage yard until an order is placed for
delivery to northern Jordan where it is used in rations for dairy cows.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Growing forages in Jordan, 2010

Corn was being grown for silage. In this photo the forage department consultant is shown in a field planted on April 10. It was 140 day maturity corn and at least 3 weeks before it would pollinate. It had good color with high plant density and was being grown in the desert with a center pivot system designed in Nebraska.

This corn was planted on March 20 and was starting to pollinate. The photo was taken at my eye level and the plants were at least three feet taller than my eye level.

H0lstein heifers grown for replacement were well grown with expected calving at ages between 24 and 27 months on this 1000 cow dairy near Amman. They were getting corn silage and alfalfa hay from the agricultural company that I worked with located about 200 miles south of Amman in the region of Wadi Rum near the border of Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

The milking herd was milking quite well and seemed to tolerate the heat well. Of course the humidity was less than 15 percent most of the time. Daytime temperatures would be around 90 degrees and nights would cool to under 65 degrees with a breeze, so cows did cool off each day. They were in a dry lot with shades.

Fresh cows got lots of alfalfa hay with limited amounts of concentrates. They were starting off well with few problems and many were milking well over 100 pounds milk per day.

The irrigated alfalfa hay had very fine stems with excellent leaf retention. Baling was done from 4:00 to 7:00 a.m. each day when there was some dew to keep leaves from shattering. The hay was being sold for near 350 dollars per U. S. ton.

At Wadi Rum the alfalfa was being grown under center pivot and was being watered continuously with about 3 applications per day. The pivots had drop down nozzles to minimize transpiration losses. The stands were being cut about every 28 days with 8 ot 9 cuttings per year. They were taking the third cuttings in mid-June when I was there.

Petra the Jewel of Jordan, June 2010

This was the "air conditioned Ferrari" that I rode when I got tuckered out from climbing steep paths and ledges to look at the sights of tombs, rooms and buildings in the park.

The amphitheatre was carved into the sandstone with seating for more than 3000 people.

This is a photo of one of the rooms carved into the mountains. There were many such sights.

Another set of buildings with tombs carved into the walls.

This settlement was built over several years and thrived nearly 2000 years ago. It had its own water canals for preservation of water from rain and supplied the population with water. It was destroyed by an earthquake after 1100 A. D. and was known as a lost city until rediscovered in the early 1800's.

To enter the city you walk through the SIQ which is a steep walled walkway, about 3700 feet long, through the sandstone mountains with many of the cliffs up to 300 feet high. The pathway is fairly narrow, but a car can pass as well as horses pulling carriages, camels and donkeys. It is all down hill and quite breezy as the air flows through the tunnel. The challenge is climbing up the hill to leave!

The Treasury is a beautiful pink work of art carved into the sandstone.
When you arrive early in the morning the sun is shining through the SIQ onto the building. It is believed that it was built by the Nabataeans as a tomb for the king Aretas III, probably during the first century B.C.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Historic Sites in Lebanon

The Temple of Jupiter is located at Baalbeck and is one of the tallest of all the Roman ruins in the world. Six Corinthian columns stand today thrusting 22 meters tall (that is 72 feet). There were 54 columns in the Great temple of the Sun as it is also known.
The great court was located inside the hexagonal court and contained
two altars and other installations of the cult for sacrifices.
It is located at Baalbeck as well with some of the remains found there believed to have been built most likely in the second century. Other remains at the site date back from the 3rd to the 1st century B.C.
The Temple of Bacchus was built in the second half of the second
century A.D. It is larger than Parthenon of Athens and measures 69 meters by 36 meters. It is a striking remnant that has survived numerous earthquakes and still stands in remarkable condition.

Another view of the view of the columns of the Temple of Jupiter.

The city of Anjar was built in the era 650 AD and lasted until about 744 when Anjar was destroyed after having served a s major trade center of the region. It is completely different from any other archeological site in Lebanon. It represents a single period of time, the Umayyad. There were 600 small shops located in the compound as well as two palaces, a mosque, individual houses and Turkish baths. It is located close to the scenic city of Zahle' in the Becca Valley.

A shepherd is shown with his lead goat that also serves as a watch post for him and helps to prevent strangers or predators from attacking the flocks. When I visited the goat came to rest about two feet behind me and kept a keen eye on me. I turned to see him and noticed what he was doing and told the son of the director that I believed the goat was a king! The boy told the shepherd and then posed with him for this photo.

A shepherd and his son are shown here at lunch time where

they enjoy shepherd's tea and some soft cheese curds and flat bread. The director of ACDI/VOCA office in Beirut is shown with his sons having tea with the shepherd. I was treated to the tea as well as having some roasted truffles that they had found in the mountains and roasted in the fire where the tea was brewed. It was a special treat that I had not known before!

Fat tail sheep are commonly found grazing in the mountains during
most of the year. During spring they move lower in the valley for grazing of barley, wheat and vetch pastures for finishing yearlings.

Raousheh is the name of the rocks found in the Mediterranean Sea just off the coast at Beirut. They are a popular landmark for tourists to observe in the beautiful waters of the Sea.