time: 6:00 am
air temp: 50 F
water temp: 48 F
tide: low, -.9'
conditions: calm, sunny
If this spring were to write an autobiography, it would be called Spring 2020: Hold onto your Hat, Because it's going to be Windier than a Hurricane on a Roller Coaster trying to outrun a Global Pandemic. Or something along those lines. I think all this wind (and especially the POLAR VORTEX wind and snow we had this past weekend) is starting to get into my head and make me a little crazy... its making it hard to find windows for harvesting and farm maintenance, and in general I'm just feeling exhausted by it. Spring can blow itself out of here and make room for summer heat and calm any day now, in my book.
The farm is faring the wind well, though, fortunately. My reinvented gear construction, prompted by some mishaps I experienced during the bigger gales last fall, is working beautifully, and the oysters are sure getting a through pre-season tumbling out there in the chop.
I've got the oysters spread out in anticipation of the water warming up (any day now... seriously Mother Nature, don't we deserve a little sun and hint of summer on its way?!). So things are pretty well situated out there for now. This morning I took advantage of a brief calm, sunny morning low tide to wrestle myself into my cold water wetsuit and do a little snorkel-harvest for some oysters that I bottom planted last year as a little experiment. I know, snorkeling in May sounds crazy and my face definitely went completely numb in about five minutes. But it felt really good to get in the water for the first time this year, and I'm super excited to infuse the week's harvests with some of the beauties I found down there! The products of this environment that I've made my farm in never cease to amaze me. There is just so much life in such a small area.
Fortunately I haven't had too much extra time or energy to spend on stressing about the weather and slow warming of the water. Last week marked the launch of my first farmers market season, which was everything I was hoping it would be, especially considering the current state of the world! I am immeasurably excited to see how this addition to my business and schedule grows and develops through the summer. I know that I sure am feeling relieved to have regular access to fresh local produce and food that doesn't require me standing in line in a parking lot, and my sense is that other folks are feeling the same way. Both the Portland and Bath farmer's markets have welcomed me in this season, Portland on Wednesdays in Deering Oaks Park, and Bath on Saturdays in Waterfront Park, and both markets have done a wonderful job of organizing vendors and flow and increasing signage to make the shopping experience a very safe option for people. And I am so excited for the opportunity to increase my customer base and have more face time with people to tell them about what I do!
Also, if you need a new podcast to add to your arsenal, check out Femidish here, and specifically episode two - featuring yours truly! It was really fun to talk to Hope and Sandy about the basics of aquaculture and how setting up and oyster farm works. We also dispelled some myths about oysters, discussed our favorite ways to cook oysters, and I speak a little bit about what its like to be a woman working in male-dominated marine industries, including some of the choicest gems of insulting comments that have come my way, and how I respond to them.
The beginning of this farmer's market season also marks for me officially, FINALLY, being a FULL-TIME oyster farmer and self-employed individual. That's not to say I haven't been putting a full-time amount of work into Emily's Oysters all along... just that this season and having these markets in the mix means that I have finally been able to forgo the part-time lobstering that has sustained me through the last two years of building this business to this point, and that maybe now I'll finally have time to get a little more sleep and, you know, take a day off every now and then. While it feels crazy to be launching into this full time during THIS particular time in history, with an economy that has plummeted seemingly into the deepest depths of recession and countless Americans so hard up, I feel fortunate that I picked food to build a business around, and I'm hoping that my model will continue to successfully do what it was intended to do - make oysters (premium healthy protein!!) more accessible, more user friendly, and more affordable than you find them in most other familiar venues. So this week I am celebrating that, and I am looking forward to the many new faces that I'm sure will become familiar ones this season!