time: 6:00 am

air temp: 50 F

water temp: 48 F

tide: low, -.9'

conditions: calm, sunny

Beautiful (rare, this spring) mirror calm on the way out to the farm this morning!

If this spring were to write an autobiography, it would be called Spring 2020: Hold onto your Hat, Because it's going to be Windier than a Hurricane on a Roller Coaster trying to outrun a Global Pandemic. Or something along those lines. I think all this wind (and especially the POLAR VORTEX wind and snow we had this past weekend) is starting to get into my head and make me a little crazy... its making it hard to find windows for harvesting and farm maintenance, and in general I'm just feeling exhausted by it. Spring can blow itself out of here and make room for summer heat and calm any day now, in my book.

The farm is faring the wind well, though, fortunately. My reinvented gear construction, prompted by some mishaps I experienced during the bigger gales last fall, is working beautifully, and the oysters are sure getting a through pre-season tumbling out there in the chop.

The fruits of 2020's first snorkel harvest (brr)

I've got the oysters spread out in anticipation of the water warming up (any day now... seriously Mother Nature, don't we deserve a little sun and hint of summer on its way?!). So things are pretty well situated out there for now. This morning I took advantage of a brief calm, sunny morning low tide to wrestle myself into my cold water wetsuit and do a little snorkel-harvest for some oysters that I bottom planted last year as a little experiment. I know, snorkeling in May sounds crazy and my face definitely went completely numb in about five minutes. But it felt really good to get in the water for the first time this year, and I'm super excited to infuse the week's harvests with some of the beauties I found down there! The products of this environment that I've made my farm in never cease to amaze me. There is just so much life in such a small area.

The farm, ready for the water to warm up... any day now...

Fortunately I haven't had too much extra time or energy to spend on stressing about the weather and slow warming of the water. Last week marked the launch of my first farmers market season, which was everything I was hoping it would be, especially considering the current state of the world! I am immeasurably excited to see how this addition to my business and schedule grows and develops through the summer. I know that I sure am feeling relieved to have regular access to fresh local produce and food that doesn't require me standing in line in a parking lot, and my sense is that other folks are feeling the same way. Both the Portland and Bath farmer's markets have welcomed me in this season, Portland on Wednesdays in Deering Oaks Park, and Bath on Saturdays in Waterfront Park, and both markets have done a wonderful job of organizing vendors and flow and increasing signage to make the shopping experience a very safe option for people. And I am so excited for the opportunity to increase my customer base and have more face time with people to tell them about what I do!

Farmer's markets! Come find me! Look for the Emily's Oysters tent :)

Also, if you need a new podcast to add to your arsenal, check out Femidish here, and specifically episode two - featuring yours truly! It was really fun to talk to Hope and Sandy about the basics of aquaculture and how setting up and oyster farm works. We also dispelled some myths about oysters, discussed our favorite ways to cook oysters, and I speak a little bit about what its like to be a woman working in male-dominated marine industries, including some of the choicest gems of insulting comments that have come my way, and how I respond to them.

The beginning of this farmer's market season also marks for me officially, FINALLY, being a FULL-TIME oyster farmer and self-employed individual. That's not to say I haven't been putting a full-time amount of work into Emily's Oysters all along... just that this season and having these markets in the mix means that I have finally been able to forgo the part-time lobstering that has sustained me through the last two years of building this business to this point, and that maybe now I'll finally have time to get a little more sleep and, you know, take a day off every now and then. While it feels crazy to be launching into this full time during THIS particular time in history, with an economy that has plummeted seemingly into the deepest depths of recession and countless Americans so hard up, I feel fortunate that I picked food to build a business around, and I'm hoping that my model will continue to successfully do what it was intended to do - make oysters (premium healthy protein!!) more accessible, more user friendly, and more affordable than you find them in most other familiar venues. So this week I am celebrating that, and I am looking forward to the many new faces that I'm sure will become familiar ones this season!

time: 7:00 pm air temp: 46 F

water temp: 44 F (!) tide: -1.6' conditions: calm number of bags: 51

Wee boat full of mud, and haphazardly floating gear as I work to get as much on the surface as possible while the tide is out and I can see and reach my bottom cages. The next step is to spread the oysters out to that the bags are less heavy, and the oysters have lots of room to grow big and fat!

What crazy times we are living in these days. I feel as though I am still trying to wrap my head around what our world and lives have morphed into, even though it's been so many weeks now since this all began. I feel incredibly lucky that my friends, family and customers are well, and that my work and the farm can carry on more or less as usual, that I can safely stay busy and occupied while so many others are cannot.

The ocean water has warmed quickly over the last weeks, to the point where oysters are likely starting to think about coming out of their winter slumber to resume pumping sea water and eating once again. This being the case, I have been grabbing whatever windows of decent weather and low tides I can to get out to the farm and start re-rigging my lines and hauling my crop up from the depths to the surface once again. This is a back-breaking process, made more challenging this year by a lingering (and oddly unrelated) back injury that I sustained doing something way less impressive. So I've been doing the farm raising in stages, and trying to stretch and rest as much as possible. I'm still working out of a smaller boat this time of year, as my dock and larger boat are still getting prepped for the season, so its been a bit of an awkward process, but has gone smoothly thus far. I've been happy to find my oysters, both big and small, largely alive and well and undisturbed in their winter bottom cages - always a cause for celebration.

At the end of the second long day, looking much tidier.

I'm always happy when things go according to the plans that I cook up for myself in my head, and this farm evolution so far has happened perfectly. I'm still working frantically at home to get gear fixed up and ready for the season, and the next stage (hopefully with the bigger boat in the water) will be to start transporting the rest of the gear out to my site so that the oysters can be further spread out in preparation for new growth. It sure feels good to have things floating again, and while the work list is suddenly huge now that the oysters are up, I'm again feeling grateful that I can keep operating at all. The oysters sure don't care about the economy or public health crisis, so farm work carries on!

Social distancing, with oysters. Grateful for all my customers.

Among the list of things I'm feeling grateful for during these uncertain times falls MY CUSTOMERS, both old and new. The incredible outpouring of support for my business and for many other local farms and fisheries workers has been tremendous and inspiring to watch and be a part of. I always thought that we Mainers were particularly good at supporting our own and buying locally, since we have such an abundance of high quality fresh stuff available and near by. But this crisis seems to have taken awareness of local resources to a whole new level, and I just think it has been really cool to witness people seeking out of food producers in person during this time. I hope that the desire to buy from lobstermen, farmers and aquaculturists directly remains a lasting theme after all this blows over, because how cool is it to know exactly when and where your food came from? And, to know that when you buy directly from the grower/catcher, you are actually fully supporting the person who worked to bring it to your table, often at a more affordable price, without a large cut of the money you spend on it going to someone who just bought and resold that product? Just some thoughts I'm having while observing the market adaptations going on around me. It's bringing me incredible joy to deliver oysters to folks right now, and I hope that the outpouring of support for local food continues and helps to see us through this pandemic and on to brighter times.

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!

Keep up with Emily!

© 2019 by emily's oysters. Proudly created with

  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon