It's been a busy month of movement toward winter in the world of this little farm. Last month I was moving toward the big fall cull -- pulling out all the market size oysters I can find and simultaneously consolidating all the rest of the stock into clean gear in preparation for sinking. Those tasks are just about done now, and the majority of the farm is tucked away safe and sound below the waves. I've got one more half of a line of 1 year old oysters to consolidate and into clean gear and sink, and then I'll probably also sink most of the market size oysters in a fashion that will allow me to more easily retrieve them through the winter as I harvest for winter markets. Some will remain floating through the holidays for easy of harvesting, but I usually start to get worried about ice sometime in January, and having everything underwater is just safer.
I rely on low tides and being able to get out of the boat and position everything right where I want it on sinking days, and as such it can sometimes be tricky to get a low tide day where the wind and weather also cooperate in the fall. This year proved very challenging, and I wound up out there on an incredibly windy afternoon due to seemingly no other options. Fortunately for me, the wind abated right around the time of low tide, and I was able to hustle my way through the task and get it all done in relative ease.
Because a big part of this season includes the transition of all the oysters into clean gear, with each boatload that comes in there also grows a huge pile in the yard of all the slimy tired growing season gear. So in between days on the water I'm also spending days pressure washing and cleaning up the gear that comes in. It's a good time for me to take note of the wear and tear it's seen throughout the season, and to get a sense for what repairs are needed and if I need to change up how I'm rigging things (at this point, six years in, I think I've finally landed on rigging that holds up to wind and weather pretty well!) Then, all that gear will get stacked and stored and secured for the winter to await next spring, and I will go home and sleeeeeeeeeeeeeep!!