time: 9:30 am

air temp: 34 F water temp: 38 F (!)

tide: extra low

conditions: calm

number of bags: 40

Sun rise as I left the harbor.

Is it me, or is there just the slightest hint of spring in the air lately? Maybe its having more daylight in the evenings post-daylight savings, but I'm definitely starting to feel the tingle of spring coming my way fast and furious.

I caught a good extra low tide that coincided with both daylight and calm, sunny weather (do you know how rare that is?) this weekend, which provided me with a great opportunity to check in on the oyster babes and see how they are faring towards what is now the end of their long winter's snooze. Happy to report that all are accounted for, seemingly undisturbed and look to be alive, which makes me breathe easy. I wasn't particularly worried about them, but its always wonderful when things go as they're supposed to, especially when left out in as volatile an environment as the ocean can be.

Calm waters, sleepy oysters. A boat.

After checking in on the oysters and making sure the gear was snug and where it should be, I pulled up the data logger hanging off one of my buoys to download the water temperature info that it's been tracking for me all along. Not surprisingly, all the warm weather and rain we've had over the last few weeks and resulted in warming water temps, which gets me feeling even more tingly-excited for the coming season!

I've got some fun new additions to the Emily's Oysters roster for this year that I'm not quite ready to announce, but which are coming together nicely... I can't wait to share them with the world.

This is only a fraction of the gear that I have to get though to mend/reinforce/prepare for another summer on the water. Yikes. More coffee now, please. Also podcast recommendations?!

For the time being, though, warming temps have me trying to get my butt in gear to go through all the oyster equipment I have piled up around the yard. Much of it needs cleaning or mending before I can bring the oysters back up to the surface for the growing season, and I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by the volume of it suddenly. Yikes. But I'll get through it all eventually, If there's anything I'm good at it's repetitive, menial hands on tasks that are vaguely arts and craftsy. Plus, with the coronavirus situation quickly escalating in the US right now, I really have no where else that I should be but in my garage working on gear, and delivering oysters to my farm share folks so they don't have to go out in the world right now!

time: 5:31 pm, my living room

air temp: 64 F inside

water temp: really cold


conditions: sleepy, grateful.

number of bags:

Beeswax oyster shell tea-lights (sea-lights?) were a homemade holiday gift I made for friends and family this year.

I can hardly believe another year has ticked away, and that it is 2020 already. I survived the holiday season with only a little bit of residual exhaustion, and feel grateful to have gotten in the warm family

time that I did amongst the many oyster orders that I harvested for and delivered.

What a whirlwind few weeks it's been since Thanksgiving! A whirlwind of the best kind, of course. I was so thrilled to bring so many people some briny holiday treats, and even MORE thrilled that so many new customers chose to gift oyster CSAs to their loved ones. I can't wait to get acquainted with the new faces to the farm share program. I also want to issue a special thank you to those of you who are repeat customers at this point, and have chosen to renew your CSAs upon slurping up the remainder of your lot. I'm so excited that this has been a fun experience for you all, and I'm feeling very energized to keep growing and improving it. Along that note, just a reminder that if anyone has any ideas or suggestions for improvement, I am all ears... now that I have a little more down time as the winter storms come and go, I am definitely in brainstorm and planning mode for the upcoming growing season.

Calm on the Freeport waterfront in between winter blows.

Some of the things I'm working on include planning for farm expansion onto my long term lease, should my proposal make it through the process this year as I hope it will. I've been writing grant reports for the wonderful organizations that gave me a boost getting Emily's Oysters up and running this past year, and its been incredibly to look back at how much I've accomplished by myself this year. I surpassed all of my sales and earnings goals, and while my expenses were way higher than I anticipated, I'm still beyond thrilled with my first year progress. I'm also looking on towards the next step in my business licensing that will allow me to reach out directly to restaurants and explore direct shipping options for customers who live outside of my delivery range. A regular (weekly), local purchase point for oyster sales and CSA pick up options is in the works, and hopefully this year will bring lots more Emily's Oysters to your world!

A little outboard engine failure after Christmas and before New Years = oar-powered oyster harvest. And what a treat to go for a row on a calm, not-too-cold last day of the year.

For now, though, I've decided to take a little bit of a rest and reset so I can fully recover from the holiday push and get really amped up about the coming work ahead of me. I'll be delivering oysters this coming Friday, 1/17, but will be taking off the following week for a little tropical respite and not delivering the week of 1/24. Back at it 1/31. Stay tuned for announcements about the following projects over the next few months :)

time: 12:30 pm

air temp: 50 F

water temp: 52 F

tide: not low enough

conditions: calm (again!)

number of bags: 13

notes: Whew. Mission accomplished! Thirteen bags stuffed with market size oysters are all that remain on the surface at my little farm. That sure feels good.

Just buoys! And some big beauties still floating waiting to be sold.

I'm exhausted and sore (something new and different), but feeling good to have gotten that done! Hopefully I can catch a low tide soon to line everything up nice and neat. I already feel the learning curve coming my way as I continue to expand the number of oysters on the farm at a given time... I'm getting better at experimenting in a smarter way (i.e. not subjecting my entire crop to some newfangled idea I have for gear rigging, etc.). But this was hard, and I'm going to need to be better organized next year and give myself some time to streamline and make things more methodical and predictable. Fortunately I've got a whole winter ahead of me to plot and scheme for that.

In the meantime, with all that hard work out of the way, I have two rather exciting tidbits of news to share! The first is that my lease application, which I've discussed in previous posts, sailed fairly smoothly through its scoping session last Wednesday. The scoping session is the first of two public meetings that accompany aquaculture lease applications. The purpose of this first public session is more informational, to allow me, the applicant, to share my ideas and hopes and dreams with anyone who cares to show up and learn more. It's also a space for me to hear from other folks who use or interact with the area, and a chance for me to gain more knowledge about the uses of the spot I hope to expand into.

In the press, again! I'm feeling so excited and grateful that my story was again deemed worthy of a write up in yet another reputable Maine publication. Thanks to Maine Women's Magazine for this awesome At the Helm feature.

I had the pleasure of meeting one the riparian landowners who owns property on the mainland nearby. She came in with ecological and aesthetic concerns, and after a productive conversation about my plans and about how different shellfish aquaculture is from other (and mostly older) forms of fish farming aquaculture, I think we are well off on a path to being neighbors and friends in the area. Generally speaking, it's becoming pretty clear to me that I and my shellfish farming industry really need to do more educating about how environmentally beneficial shellfish farming actually is. There is quite literally no other means of creating protein in such a sustainable way - provided we aren't setting farms up in endangered or protected habitat, the introduction of our shellfish to the coast of Maine only stands to do good during these days of climate change and ocean acidification. Keep an eye on my social media this winter, as I aim to do a little more educating through it while I have more free time, and I hope you will help me spread the good word!

Ok finally, go check out Maine Women's Magazine's November issue, and this ridiculously awesome article about me, written by the lovely Amy Paradysz, photos by Jenny McNulty. It feels so good to have people take notice of what I've been working so hard at lately, and to think it cool enough to be worth sharing with the wider community. Such an honor, and what wonderful fuel it adds to my already raging fire...

Keep up with Emily!

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