time: 9:45 am
air temp: 67 F
water temp: 49 F
conditions: unseasonably warm, calm, sunny.
Well, if you are a fellow Mainer, you would likely agree with me when I say that this fall has been one the more lovely ones we've had in a while. Though we did have an early frost and a good few cold days, the intermittent stretches of glorious calm weather have really been a treat. Sometimes this season brings great weather-related stress on top of the usual prepping-the-farm-for-the-winter stress, but not this year!
This is one of my busier stretches of time during the year, behind-the-scenes on the farm. Getting the bulk of my oysters consolidated, swapped out of hairy, dirty gear and into nice clean gear, and sunk to the bottom for the winter months is a lengthy (weeks long) task that takes a good deal of planning and a lot a lot of physical work. I sort of feel like I'm on a big smelly merry-go-round, back and forth from the farm with boat loads of dirty and then clean and then dirty gear. I've been diligently culling out and setting aside the many oysters that are big enough to go to market this winter, and those will all get grouped together and apart from the rest of my smaller stock to ease
the work of harvesting in the winter. Everything that won't get harvested, including this year's seed, will get safely tucked away under the surface to ensure that the oysters don't get swept away by foul weather or damaged by sea ice during the coldest months.
Oysters feed actively until the water temperature gets down to around 40 degrees F. At that point, they stop feeding and enter a period of dormancy until the ocean temperature warms back up over that 40 degree threshold. Since they are still alive and well while dormant, they are good to harvest and eat, so I like to continue harvesting right on through the winter! Because I do so, it goes a long way towards ensuring my comfort and peace of mind if I do a really thorough job this time of year of organizing and double checking things before it gets uncomfortable to be out for long periods of time in harsher conditions.