Seeding time has come once again to my little farm! On Tuesday I picked up 175,000 little
baby oysters from Muscongus Bay Aquaculture, the local hatchery that supplies many of the oyster farmers here in Maine and beyond. My bunch this year measure in around 3mm, my usual order. The smaller the seed, the cheaper the cost, so a few years ago I built some special nursery boxes that are lined with fine screen so that I could accommodate having little tiny babies on my farm without losing them all - the mesh bags that I primarily use as my gear don't go down to a small enough size to keep these wee ones contained. But my nifty boxes work great, fit right inside one of my floating bags to keep them secure on the farm, and in no time (10-14 days) the seed will have just about doubled in size and will be big enough to be transferred into the smallest size mesh bag that I have (4mm holes). As an oyster farmer, you spent a lot of time thinking about mesh sizes and oyster sizes and being careful to make sure you don't accidentally lose your crop through the holes!
I'll check on these guys over the next few days to make sure they acclimate to my farm site okay, and then I'll be chomping at the bit to grade out the biggest of them in about two weeks or so to start moving them out the nursery boxes. I learned an important lesson last year, which was that I can't leave them too long! They grow so fast at this stage it's easy to accidentally get to the point where they start to max out on space and compete with each other for food. Days matter to these guys, so they are top priority over the next few weeks. While they size up, I'm busy bringing the next round of gear that they will move into back out to the farm, and making the space that they will need as they are ready to move on up into floating bags. I'm continuing to improve my operational practices and efficiencies when it comes to taking care of the little guys, and it feels good to be out of "think about it" mode and into "doing it" mode!
Once the seed was safely set out on the farm this week, I took the opportunity to do a really quick haul out and maintenance session on my trusty oyster boat. She's been in the water and working nonstop for over a year now, so this was a little bit overdue and very very needed. A day of washing, barnacle scraping, a couple coats of fresh bottom paint and an engine tune up and she went right back into the water ready to finish out the season strong! This boat has been so reliable, and I am grateful everyday for that. I am outgrowing her a little bit more every season, but have also been able to find creative ways to adapt and make her work for myself along the way. Boats are not cheap, and hard to come by, so for now, she's what I've got to work with. When you harvest and work year round like I do, it's hard to find the time to do all the maintenance and work on her that I would like to, but man does it make a difference!