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Things have really been cranking away out on the sea farm lately! The water is warm warm

This year's fresh new baby ones! 3mm in size and growing already.

warm, the oysters are growing like crazy, and so is everything else that likes to cling to the gear and needs to be dealt with. Last week I also got the call to come scoop up this year's batch of 150,000 oyster seed, so I've been spending time lately getting them comfortably situated on the farm too, and watching to make sure they are adjusting okay. The seed process is relatively easy to get started. Once obtaining my bundle from the hatchery crew, who packages them up carefully so they stay damp and cool for the trip out out to the farm, I just zip them out as quickly as I can and get them evenly divided out onto the fine mesh inserts that they will start out in so they can safely go into a floating bag on the farm without escaping. In no time (2 weeks, usually) these 3mm diameter babies will have grown enough that I will be ready to spend some time grading out the biggest of them and upgrading them into the smallest mesh floating bag I have. From there, it's off to the races!

A snap shot of last year's seed oysters, some of which are now huge while others are not.

I've also been doing lots of tending of the juvenile oysters on the farm, which were last year's seed oysters and will be this winter's harvest. These guys make up the biggest part of the farm stock at the moment, volume wise, and as such they require the most amount of tending just to keep all that gear clean with occasional air drying and bag shaking to knock of some of their newest growth so they don't get too big to fast and develop nice shells. The lot ranges quite a lot in size, from 2 inches at the biggest end to less than an inch in the smaller grades. This is pretty normal for a given oyster class, and the best thing to do for all of them to just keep grading as we go and grouping like sizes with like sizes. I'll be pulling off the biggest of this year class for harvest before the year is out!I've also been spending some time doing one of my all-time favorite oyster farming activities lately - snorkeling for bottom planted oysters! These guys aren't technically wild specimens,

Freshly snorkel-harvested bottom dwellers

because I intentionally scattered them here and there on the bottom of my lease at some point in time. I do this sometimes if I've run out of gear to house my entire crop in, or if I've reached close to the end of a harvesting through a year class to find some amount of runty slow growers that are just taking too long to size up for me to invest anymore time or gear into taking care of. I set them free on the parts of the lease that have a firmer bottom (soft soupy mud is liable to suffocate them), and I leave them be for six months or a year before circling back to them and picking up the ones that are big enough to go to market either by walking or snorkeling around at low tide and hand-picking them. These oysters look remarkably different than the ones that come out of surface culture - contact with the benthic zone and the bottom substrate causes them to take on some stunning green hues in their shells, as well as some barnacle friends and other critters who like to attach to things on the bottom. They tend to grow some really hefty thick shells which makes them nice for shucking, and their meats are also often a big firmer and chewier and a bit different in flavor just due to the different kinds of food sources they have access to down on the bottom. There will be more of these beauties to come this summer!

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