time: 3:30 pm
air temp: 58 F
water temp: 64 F
tide: somewhere in the middle
conditions: gray, drizzle, 10-15 kts. SW
number of bags: forgot to count.
notes: Behind on the farm log, forgot to eat lunch, and my socks are wet: a portrait of October thus far. Just kidding, its not so bad. I am feeling a little bit like I got involuntarily ejected out of the fast moving train that was the last two months, however. I'm catching up slowly but surely, though, on sleep and on farm maintenance, and while my body may be resisting the change in seasons, my mind is welcoming a mild slow-down in my schedule.
I'm a little behind on farm maintenance of late as I've been spending more time out lobstering in an effort to make as much money while the weather was nice. As a result, this post is a little about farming and a lot about recent business growth. With the two jobs, farm days get tougher to find as fall weather sets in, and the nice days become fishing days. What time I have snagged out on the farm has been devoted to scraping fouling organisms off the undersides of bags, harvesting, and culling through the 2 year olds to pull out the oysters that are large enough or nearly large enough for harvesting (!).
Despite the exhaustion, September has been a particularly exciting month for me and the business. I've taken on a wholesale partner, Glidden Point Oyster Farms, who is excited to buy and distribute my oysters far and wide. I've sold several hundred oysters to them in the last couple weeks, but my inventory is small enough that we've had to pause until my incoming crop gets a bit more shell on. Glidden Point is a well-known and highly-thought-of oyster farm located in Damariscotta that also buys and sells other local oysters as part of their distribution program, and I'm really excited to work with them going forward. Last week they shipped some of my product down to a restaurant in NYC called Cull & Pistol, where the head chef promptly served my oysters to none other than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez! HOW COOL IS THAT?! I couldn't believe it.
If I was skeptical about it before, I am now a full believer in the power of social media for marketing a small business such as mine. The photos I've posted of my product, myself, and the words I've shared with the world about my values and my practices have not only led the majority of my customers to me, but they've also helped spark the beginnings of these relationships that I hope to cultivate and make last throughout the coming years. I'm grateful to be working with a product that comes with its own high demand, but it's also incredibly validating to watch the time and energy I've put into these forms of marketing pay off. I couldn't be happier, and more excited than every for next year.
Next up: gearing up for winter, making a plan for nestling the farm into its muddy bed for the coldest months, and figuring out how I will be able to access oysters to harvest during those months.
This will be my third year overwintering the farm and while all has gone smoothly in the past, I'm working with more volume than ever this year, and the discomfort of the weather always makes things feel a bit more ominous than they hopefully will shake out to be. If anyone knows where an I can get myself a 14' aluminum boat, let me know.
In one last final bit of exciting news, in the marginally greater amount of free time I've had in the last couple weeks, I've finally managed to get a jumpstart on applying for my larger, longer-term lease though the state. After a positive meeting with the Department of Marine Resources and the Freeport harbormaster, I submitted my (46!) page application to DMR, which was deemed complete. I've moved on to the next step, which involves holding a public meeting in Freeport for anyone who is interested in my plans or wants to know more. I'm nervous about this step - this is where I will likely learn of any opposition to my hopes for expansion. I've done everything I can to plan for the most minimal impacts on the view and to allow for continued use of the area by recreational boaters, so I'm hopeful that things will progress smoothly.