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More new faces on the farm this week. Well, new to me anyway. Catie, a veteran on Skip’s summer crew, started with us on Friday (she just graduated from Colgate) and Eva (fresh outta Brown) starts with us tomorrow. With all these extra hands, the work flies and we can go through a massive number of oysters in a day. We put in a full day today and logged more than 150 bags. Sheesh! Back when A2 and I were the only ones culling, we’d be lucky to hit 50 in a day (but we still had a damn good time doing it). We’ve come a long way — more ridiculous humor (Will’s “Dopeass quote of the day” can lay the entire crew out with laughter – Maggie and I were to the point of tears twice today), more opinions on what music we listen to (Maggie’s a Kanye fan, which makes A2 happy; Will and I are into the classic rock/90s stuff; Quinn seems to like whatever’s on) and more competitors in our ongoing ‘name that tune’ game. (1 point for the artist, 1 point for the song title. Berg is a champ with classic rock; A2 can list the entire Jam’n 94.5 playlist which repeats itself about 3 times a day.)

the new Island Creek Shellfish farm logo

the new Island Creek Shellfish farm logo

today's haul

today's haul

But the crew shifts around so we won’t be shoulder to shoulder on the float most days. Berg is teaching Quinn how to drag so we can have two guys bringing in oysters every day (though Quinn almost lost his life with the winch twice today, he’ll pick it up eventually) and Catie and I will spend more time on the docks with the seed. We’ve got seed in all 16 silos now (with one more trough/silo going in this week) — each silo is holding seed at different stages, from 1.5 mm to about 2.5 mm (at least that was the size they were when they arrived — all have doubled or tripled since we’ve had them). For now, we’re keeping the seed clean (ie: free of oyster poop) by hosing down each silo every few days. We’ll go through and hose down all of the silos tomorrow and probably do some organizing — Skip picked up more seed this weekend so we’ll need to make some room for it. If the seed goes too long without getting cleaned, they’ll foul quickly (foul, from my understanding, can be a much nicer way of saying either oyster poop, or the effects of oysters lingering in their own poop).

Since the seed is in an upweller system, there’s fresh water being pumped over them all day long and they’re just soaking up the nutrients, growing at an incredibly rapid clip. The volume of our biggest seed has probably tripled in the last two weeks, meaning they’re healthy, hungry oysters that are going to move through the system quickly. Should be a beautiful week so I’ll try to get some more photos and a better description of the process as we go.

Island Creeks on Ken Oringer's patio

Island Creeks on Ken Oringer's patio

In the meantime, I picked up a stellar recipe for our oysters from chef Ken Oringer during a Memorial Day bbq last week. Super quick and easy for summer.

Ken’s grilled Island Creeks
1 dozen oysters
2 tbsp butter, cut into a dozen small pieces
1-2 tbsp Mexican hot sauce (essential that it’s Mexican, says Ken)

1. Fire up the grill. Set the oysters cup side down over a medium/high heat. Grill until the shells just pop open (time varies depending on the oyster), then pull them off the grill.
2. With a shucking knife, separate the oysters from the top shell (toss the top; careful not to lose too much juice). Top each oyster with a piece of butter and a dash or two of hot sauce.
3. Put the oysters back on the grill for about a minute to melt the butter. Pull them off and let them cool for a bit before serving.

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