The end of the omer will soon be upon us, the 49 days counted on the Jewish calendar from the start of Passover till the holiday of Shavuot. A host of customs and traditions are associated with this, the season of the omer. Shavuot, which falls in May or June, is primarily an agricultural festival, signifying the connection between the Jewish people and its land. In Israel, this is the time of year that grains are harvested and bound into sheaves (whence comes the Hebrew word omer).
In the past, the wheat field of Ramat Hanadiv was planted with grains, chiefly wheat. Wheat is growing there again nowadays, often interplanted with other crops, but they are not meant for the use of humans, nor for profit: the main beneficiaries of these crops are wildlife. Undisturbed by human intervention like tractors or pesticides, arthropods (bugs and spiders), small mammals, fowl and other creatures find a wonderful source of nourishment here. Some of these creatures themselves serve as food for other animals. The small mammals, for instance, are a menu attraction for birds of prey, which also devour crawlers that survive on arthropods (among other things). Thus our relatively small site (a total of about two and a half acres) provides life for a broad range of living things.
If you look closely, you can glimpse (especially with the help of a magnifying glass) some of the tiniest animals in the field. At dawn there are also gazelles and at times wild boar (the largest mammal that lives wild in Israel) roaming about. If the boars are hiding, not interested in an encounter with human beings, you can at least see what they've been munching. Since boars cannot digest a number of the ingredients in plants, they simply spit out the chewings, which you can see deposited along the wheat fields in the late spring.
Despite the lack of winter rains, the wheat grew well this year. The 'bald' spots in Ramat Hanadiv's field testify that animals have been eating here and continue coming back for a rich dining experience. There's a side benefit, too: with the wheat field giving them nourishment, the animals don't have to go looking for more food in nearby towns and on the roads, where they would pose a danger mostly to themselves.
The hiking trail marked in green passes along the wheat field. We recommend that you contact the InfoShop for details before setting out: Telephone (04)629 8111.