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time: 5:00 pm air temp: 26 F water temp: 50 F tide: rising conditions: cloudy, gray, threatening snow.

The final, (chilly) days of the clean-up marathon.

At long last, all the gear is clean, trucked home and stacked and secured for the winter. It feels so good to reach this point in the year, because it means it is finally, finally time for me to get some rest. There will be lots of inspecting and mending of that gear to do before it goes back in the water next spring, but generally I save that task for April, when it gets a little warmer. My shop space at home is unheated, and meticulous work with one's fingers is hard to do in Maine this time of year. Plus, generally by now I feel pretty ready not to think about oyster gear for a little while.

The last little bit of winter chores includes moving my boat into town for the icy months (now through March), so that I can be sure to be able to get out to harvest, and hauling my three-season dock out to protect it from said ice. I'm incredibly lucky to have grown up on a lovely

Dock is hauled, with thanks to my dad.

bit of riverfront land on which my parents still live, which now has become my primary access point to the farm. With help from a super high tide and from my dad and his tractor, this final dock pulling event generally is a breeze.

So, with the boat safely tied up at the town dock and everything put away, I'm focused on Christmas and finishing out the year with lots of holiday oysters to go around! I'm also pretty focused on sleeping and resting my body for a little while before I start to think about planning for next season. I'm psyched to have recently received a sizable small business grant from the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, which will be a really nice cushion to have as I'm gearing up to spread out into my new, larger lease site this spring. The many more feet of rope, buoys, moorings, cages and miscellaneous hardware that I'll be purchasing are expenses that add up quickly, and this grant money is going to make those purchases a little less painful.

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