time: 4 pm
air temp: 48 F
water temp: 52 F
tide: can't remember
conditions: glassy calm
number of bags: shrinking
notes: Well, this fall has been a learning experience. I feel like I say that a lot lately. We've had three significant wind storms since the beginning of October, and while nor'easters are pretty normal for fall in Maine as the universe prepares to transition from warmer air and ocean temps to colder ones, the exaggerating effects that climate change has had on these normal seasonal shifts has meant that these weather events have been getting more severe as time goes on.
Fortunately, the farm has faired these blows well and I haven't lost anything. Some gear failures that resulted in some unintended bottom seeding of some of the one year old oysters, but as I talked about in the last post, they will just be a fun snorkeling adventure next summer. The worry and sleepless nights during these storms, however, are not worth the stress they have impacted on me, so I'm learning and adapting my fall farm layout plans to try to account for the seemingly more frequent fall storms.
I took today to start moving all my seed from this year, as well as the one year old oysters that aren't yet big enough to harvest, into clean bottom cages to get settled for the winter.
What I love most about where I've sited my farm is that it's shallow enough for me to get away with doing this before the oysters fully go into their winter state of hibernation - they can go down to the bottom now without too much of a change in temperature or food supply. Typically, we oyster farmers are watching and waiting for the ocean temps to hit 40 degrees, the sleepy time threshold for our animals. Sinking oysters too early can result in their suffocating or starving due to the fact that right now, they are still feeding like crazy and working on storing up as much energy as possible. But my little guys will fare just as well down there now, and I will hopefully get a little more sleep. Next year, I plan to start this process much earlier.
I've been building my own bottom cages over the past couple months in anticipation of winterizing the farm in a way that is manageable for me in my solo-status, and I'm excited that today went smoothly. Tomorrow will hopefully see the rest of the little guys safely settled onto the bottom, and then I will just need to venture out on a good drainer tide and make sure the cages landed correctly, and probably corral some of them back with the rest. The tide wasn't quite low enough for me to be able to see where things landed, so a double check will be in order.