We've been having funky weather for a New England June. With temps hovering in the high 50s/low 60s and more cloudy days than sunny ones, the water temps haven't quite warmed up to where we want them to be. This is definitely having an affect on our babies. Christian tells me that with some sun, the water should warm up to about 60 degrees and that's what makes the oysters "pop" or go through a growth spurt. Since we have seed at different stages of growth in the upwellers (some seed came in early May; other batches came in early June), we've seen some of them explode but the younger ones are still small. As seed tender, I'm tasked with keeping them clean and poop free so they can continue to grow and eat. So Catie and I have gotten into a washing routine, which usually happens every other day now. The process goes something like this:
We start with dock 1 where there's 1 upweller with 8 silos. Because the boards to the dock are awkward and heavy, we open one portion of it and start unbolting the silos. We each pull one or two out, which means hoisting the box up by the ropes, waiting for it to drain of water, then dragging the bulky box up and onto the dock (we're still able to do this individually but as the oysters get bigger, it'll get harder and harder). Once we've got a few boxes out, I'll grab the hose and wash each one down individually: Outside, inside, then the seed and screen below it, which are now usually covered in crap. I'll move onto the next box and Catie will jump into the upweller to put the clean box back in place (they're secured to the trough with bolts and wingnuts... when the wingnuts are screwed on too tight, we use a wooden mallet, courtesy of Greg Morris, to knock them loose).
As I'm washing, Catie stays ahead of me pulling out and putting away the boxes and eventually we'll move over to dock 2 (also called the rowing dock since that's where the rowers from the Maritime School keep their boats stored). Dock 2 is far trickier since we have two upwellers there which both live beneath a rack of row boats. The far upweller (we called it the 20s) sits below some really low-lying boats so getting in and out is easy only when that boat is off its storage space and in the water (ie: when the rowers are in class). Since we still haven't gotten the rowers' schedule down, Catie and I are often interrupted while we're opening the dock to let rowers in and out. Usually, they arrive just after we've gotten the doors off ... which means we have to quickly put the doors back on and step aside until they're done. It's impeccable timing... but we'll get the hang of it eventually.
As we wash the upwellers, we can track the progress of our seed, checking out which ones are getting bigger, which ones are super poopy, and how they're growing overall. I'm a big fan of the seed job. Not only does it give me access to the seed growth in slow-mo, I get to hang out on the dock a few days a week and shoot the shit with the other farmers. They fret and stress and get excited over the babies like any anxious parents: a little nerve-racked but totally filled with love. And lots of hopes and prayers for a really good season.
So, you can imagine that this weather isn't helping much. Today will be a nice one, in the 70s and sunny, but we just need one long stretch of sun... fingers crossed that it's coming soon.