time: 12:30 pm
air temp: 65 F
water temp: 52 F
The past month and a half or so have been a bit of a slog and a challenge. It's been such a windy spring, which is not conducive to getting the work done that has to come after the initial push of floating the oysters back to the surface... the work of bringing out all the clean gear, dividing all of those overwintered oysters out into that clean gear at growing densities (much fewer oysters per bag), and lugging all the dirty winter gear back ashore to get pressure washed and mended. Many boatloads and days later, I am alllllmost done, but still have about 20 more bags of winter gear to swap out, which I'm hoping to get through this week.
In between the days where I've been able to get on the water to do the gear shuffle, I've been at home in the shop furiously building new bags - about 75 new ones this year, in fact, plus about 17 homemade bottom cages as well. Gear building is one of my least favorite chores, however, I was excited this year to finally be able to add that much more to my farm, as it will allow me for the first time to really stock my bags at a much lower density initially, hopefully eliminating the need for me to divide everything half way through the summer as it grows and starts to crowd. Basically, I don't to have too many oysters per bag, as this can cause them to start to compete for the food in the water around them.
Because they also grow a lot and take up much more space at the end of the summer than
they do now, I'm trying to factor that growth amount in NOW, so that I'm stocking as many oysters per bag initially as that bag will be able to accommodate in August, so that I don't need to spend a big chunk of time mid-summer frantically bringing more gear out and splitting everything into second bags. This way, I'll be able to really focus on just keeping the gear clean, shaking bags as they grow to chip new shell and help steer the oysters' growth to a nice product, and harvesting!
I've been pretty all-consumed with these projects lately, but I'm also back to twice weekly farmer's markets and as I've harvesting more, I'm excited to see signs of growth in the oysters once again! The telltales are little bits of fragile, flaky shell starting to form around the bill of the oyster, and when shucked, the oysters themselves are looking a bit plumper and like they've started to recover from their winter fast. Nothing makes me happier than bringing big, fat happy oysters in for my customers. :)