time: 5:00 pm
air temp: 46 F
water temp: 51 F
conditions: calm, clouding up.
After a challenging 10 days or so, I'm happy to say that the majority of the farm is settled for the winter! It's hard to know when the exact "right time" is to sink all the oysters that won't get
harvested over the winter months, but usually after the first good nor'easter (or two, in this year's case) I'm good and ready. There's nothing worse than lying awake on a stormy night, worrying about your life savings and future income out there in the water, getting thrashed by the wind and waves. I'm never a fan of that, despite all the time and work I've put into reinforcing my gear and making my set up storm-proof. You just never know...
Sinking the farm is, in the grand scheme of things, not necessarily a more challenging task than most, as long as I pick the right day for it. The weeks of prep beforehand, thoroughly culling and consolidating the oysters in the bags that will stay out and getting everything lined up in the right place are certainly the more time and labor-intensive part of the end-of-season sprint.
Last Tuesday I scored a decently calm low tide afternoon with enough daylight (the trickiest part this time of year!) to go out and pull all the floatation of four lines of consolidated gear, and that's that! Left on the surface at this point are just two lines of culled market size oysters which I'll harvest my way through in the coming months.
The next task is to catch another low tide someday soon and make sure everything landed straight. The water was still murky enough from the last rainstorm, daylight was low enough and the tide was not quite as long as I needed to be able to go back along each row to do this bit after the initial sinking. But the oysters will be fine in the meantime - safe on the bottom no matter how they landed. THEN comes the really fun chore of dealing with all the many smelly slimy bags that are waiting for me onshore from the consolidation part of these activities, plus the two boatloads of floats. helllllo weeks of pressure washing ahead!
In other exciting farm-related news, a couple weeks ago I received notice that my application for a 4.7 acre, 20 year standard lease was GRANTED by the Department of Marine Resources! This is a huge, exciting thing for me. I applied for this lease, which includes the same area in which I've been growing oysters all along, over two years ago at this point. Since aquaculture leases are never a certain thing and the process takes SO long to get through, I am feeling quite relieved and thrilled to spend the winter months ahead planning for my expansion onto this lease, which will start next spring. I'll finally have the capacity to grow more oysters, and more importantly, to spread out my existing layout in a more manageable way. I'm so excited.