time: 9:00 am
air temp: 48 F
water temp: not sure... my little data logger gave up the ghost :(
conditions: calm and springy!
And just like that, it's spring! I always welcome April with glee, although at the same time spring is the most frustrating time. It's funny how a day in the 30 degree range in January feels warm, but when we get to April suddenly 45 degrees feels unacceptably cold. And the tendency for springtime to be windier than most (all that warm summer air has to get here somehow) can be a challenge to work around. Spring in the life of an oyster farmer is a tedious time of endlessly mending and building gear, watching and waiting for the right tides (the extra low full moon tides) to re-float oysters that are safely sleeping in cages on the bottom, and monitoring water temp, which needs to be somewhere at or just above 40 degrees.
Last week I managed to time a good tide/weather window and made it out to start the process. The best tides are always at dawn and dusk around the full moon.
It generally takes me a tide or two to get enough floats out to attach to the gear that's been housing the oysters for the winter. Since I like to make sure that gear stays put through winter gales (and because the oysters don't mind being crowded together while they're mostly dormant this time of year), the bags I'm pulling up and reattaching floatation to are more overstocked than usual, and H E A V Y. This is why low low tides and a smaller, lower boat to work out of are helpful, as its just less distance to lift and secure floatation.
After working two back-to-back early morning tides, I managed to get everything back to the surface once again.
The next step is one that I started today, and which will likely take me a few more days and boatloads of clean gear to finish up. All those overloaded bags which are floating once again have to get thinned out into several bags. This is both to ease the load on the gear (heavier gear on the surface tends to take a beating more quickly in wind and weather than lighter gear does), and also to get ready for ever-warming water temps and the feeding and growth that the oysters will start to undergo soon. Overcrowded oysters tend to grow in weird shapes and can start to compete for access to food resulting in a not so great (or dead) end product.
Since I am still waiting on the Maine Department of Marine Resources to get to my lease proposal for public hearing and review (thanks for the massive delay, Covid), I'm once again going to be working in a much, much smaller area than I would like to be and than makes sense for the number of oysters that I am growing these days. Because of this, I'm hard at work designing and building some different kinds of gear that will be set up on the bottom, underneath the floating stuff. More on that at a later date! In the mean time, I've also added a puppy into my life and am focusing all of my extra time and energy on getting him accustomed to boats and docks and the water so that he's ready to be my right-hand doggie this summer! :)