The one that got away.

Real Estate Agent with Jameson Sotheby's International Realty

I was living in northern Israel on a kibbutz (a communal farming community).  We had a lot of different ventures on the kibbutz including orchards (apples, lemons, grapefruit, almonds and quinces), cotton fields, dairy farm (with a herd of over 500 milking cows, and 1 very luck bull), chicken coops with thousands of chickens, a toilet paper factory and 15 very large fish ponds, stocked with carp, silver carp and some others that I can't remember, offhand.

On this particular day, we were  emptying one of the ponds (over an acre of surface area... maybe more), and the water had been draining into the Jordan river for about 2 days... today, the water was low, and we were capturing the thousands of silver carp in this pond and sending them off to Tel Aviv for processing.  A full day's work.

We would wade into the water with a mucky mud bottom, trying hard not to get stuck.  the water was still chest high... as we waded into the school of panicked silver carp (average size of 18 inches long) with nets to corral them into a smaller area, near the elevator (and angled belt-drive) to raise them into the tanker trucks for transport).

As we were driving the fish with the nets, we noticed some large furry animal swimming among the fish.  We had lots of wildlife in the area, so this was likely some kind of large rodent.  I asked the Israelis what it was and they called it something that sounded like Hebrew... a word I was unfamiliar with ... I asked how you say that in English... and they repeated the word.  "Nutria"... I didn't know what that was.  (hey, I was young, cut me some slack).

They made a impromptu decision to capture the Nutria.  It was basically a small Capybara.  A large (size of a dog) rodent with large buck teeth.  An intimidating capture.  We surrounded this fearsome beast with about 15 of us on floating nets.  driving it to the center.  I could already picture one of the bosses, making a coat out of him for his wife.

We tightened and tightened the net.  The Nutria dove under the water... and when we came together and lifted the net... voila!!  nuthin.  Somehow the Nutria had eluded our nets, and now the water had gotten so low (because we spent so much time chasing this damned Nutria,) that we had a very difficult time collecting the rest of the muddied silver carp.

I was tired, badly sunburned 'cause we'd been working in the water barefoot, with swimsuits and no shirts.  We wore sunglasses and a hat, but my nose was burnt, my shoulders were lobster red, and no nutria.

We worked 'till the early evening when we couldn't see anymore, all the fish had been collected into 20 different tanker trucks, which each left at they were filled... on their way to the big city.

We were exhausted... and sat down to an alfresco dinner of baked chicken, and Turkish coffee (called botz - which is Hebrew for "mud"... somehow appropriate) so thick... when you're finished drinking it, there's a layer of coffee grounds on the bottom of the cup (mud) that you spread on a cracker and eat.

What a day, what a day!

Posted by

 ALAN MAY, Realtor®   
Specializing in Evanston Real Estate and North Shore Real Estate

Jameson Sotheby's International Realty, 2934 Central Street, Evanston, IL 60201
Office: 847.869.7300      Cell: 847.924.3313      Email:

Evanston Real Estate & North Shore Real Estate
Licensed in Illinois


Comments (7)

Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®
Carmel by the Sea, CA
Rothwell Realty Inc. CA#01968433 Carmel-by-the-Sea

I have fond memories of visiting a kibbutz when I was in Israel many years ago with a group of the Society of American Travel Writers.  It looked like very hard work but very satisfying for the young people there. 

Aug 16, 2022 01:32 PM
Alan May

Do you remember which one you visited?

Aug 16, 2022 02:09 PM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

That was one lucky bull!  And that Nutria was even luckier.  I wonder what a coat made out of those little varmints would look like.

I just visited Israel and spent some time in kibbutz run hotels.  They were well run and offered incredible food and lots of fish.  I wonder if some of those silver carp ended up on my plate.  If so, it would have been my first time eating them.

Thank you for your entry!

Aug 16, 2022 02:09 PM
Alan May

Truth in both statements.
A nutria fur would look like this:

There was only one kibbutz-run hotel in our region Ray Henson ... at a kibbutz across the river Jordan from us... called Kfar Blum.

Aug 16, 2022 02:13 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Alan- two thoughts after reading your post...I want to take a long shower and I'd rather use a fishing rod. What a story!!!  Our good friend volunteered for the Israeli Army every year until he passed away. He looked forward to it so much. 

Aug 16, 2022 04:31 PM
Alan May

If your friend was a US citizen, he could be risking his citizenship by volunteering to serve in a foreign army.

Even if he was a dual citizen (which the US/Israel allow), he could serve in the Israeli Defense Forces (Israeli army) if drafted... but volunteering could void his US citizenship.

Aug 21, 2022 07:52 AM
Kat Palmiotti
eXp Commercial, Referral Divison - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

What a story! That sounds like quite the memory. And I've never had Turkish coffee - and never heard of spreading grounds on a cracker after the coffee is gone. You experienced quite a bit at that time in your life!

Aug 17, 2022 05:03 AM
Alan May

It was called "mud" for a reason.  We drank (ate) it every morning, spreading the grounds on what passed for hard-tack (a sea biscuit)... a rough breakfast while out in the orchards.

Aug 21, 2022 07:53 AM
Jim Patton
Aspire Home Real Estate 209-404-0816 - Modesto, CA
Realtor - Stanislaus ,Merced, San Joaquin Counties

Great story Alan May.  Somehow Nutria have been found in my neck of the woods here in Central California.  Very much an invasive species and lots of money is being spent on trying to get rid of them.

Aug 20, 2022 03:15 PM
Alan May

Hard to get rid of them, especially since their fur is no longer in favour.

Aug 21, 2022 07:54 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Prop. Mgr, Wenatchee, WA

Hi Alan,
Your post about the kibbutz brought back memories of our trip to Israel. Of course, I didn't have to wrangle carp or a nutria, so my experience was all positive.  I was fascinated by the diversity in Israel, considering it is such a small country.

Aug 22, 2022 06:32 AM
Alan May

oddly enough... mine was positive too.

Aug 24, 2022 05:42 AM