Phew. That was a long one. We just wrapped up a full week of drainer tides — where low tide completely drains the bay floor giving us loads of time to hand pick oysters — most of which started super early in the morning. It’s typically the longest week of the year since the tide stays out for hours on end several days in a row. Only, we couldn’t go out to pick on Monday or Tuesday because of the weather. Monday’s storm seemed to hold on forever with the wind and rain blowing us off the float by lunchtime. Tuesday was another windy, rainy one. Catie and I were on the dock with the rain blowing at us sideways while we graded some of our seed. But it had to be done: our oldest seed had popped and almost a quarter of it was big enough to go into seed bags. When we grade, we separate the quarter-inch seed from the smaller stuff and put the smaller stuff back into the upwellers to continue growing. It brings down the volume in our silos allowing the smaller seed more room to grow. So we graded that batch and had enough quarter-inch seed to fill about 600 bags. At the end of the day on Tuesday, the crew spent the evening filling the bags with the seed and finally, on Wednesday morning (5:30 a.m. start time), we were able to get out on the tide. We spent the first few hours hand picking oysters and once the tide started to flow back in, we put the filled seed bags into cages which we set up in southeastern facing rows of 10 on part of the lease. Each cage hold 6 bags so we filled about 100 cages that morning. Quick work to do when the tide starts coming in but we got all the bags out and made it on the boat before the water spilled into our waders.
There was more seed washing to do on Wednesday afternoon, plus we were able to take a look at some of the seed Skip’s been growing in the back river. It’s coming along a little at a time — it’ll be interesting to see how much it pops once we move it into the bay.
On Thursday, the weather FINALLY broke. We were out on the tide in the fog that morning but by the time we came in, grabbed a coffee and got to work culling, we were working in the sunshine. After lunch, Catie and I graded another set of silos which meant we were set up under the scorching sun on the dock for the afternoon. Nothing wrong with that after 20 straight days of rain. Yes, we wore hats and sunscreen but still managed to get some color. We capped off the day with a trip back out to the float where we found a spanking new soaker float attached to our garage float. That gives us around 70 feet of float space to work on — it’s like adding a patio the size of your house to the backyard. It’s huge! I’d show you pictures but, sadly, my camera bit the dust after sitting in a pool of water one rainy afternoon. Ugh.
Friday was another decent day. We were out on the tide in t-shirts in the morning and made our way in for an early lunch by 11:30. Eva came to the dock to help us grade that afternoon (it goes much faster when there’s three of us) and despite a passing thunderstorm and an army of ferocious no-see-ums (tiny, invisible, flesh biting gnats), we finished up by about 4 p.m. and joined the rest of the crew (who had been culling and bagging on the float) to help load up the truck.
I’d recount more details or give you some funny anecdote about the crew but to be honest, I’m wiped. We put in a few 12-hour days and worked our tails off all week. After two full nights of sleep and even a few naps, I’m still recovering. But this is the busy time and from what I hear, we’ll keep it up at this level until summer’s over. I’m ready for it. My hands and lower back are ready for it. But I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’ve got some drier days ahead.