Considering we've only had about six weeks of summer, I truly hope this isn't the end of our nice weather. But the summer crew is gone, Oyster Fest is less than two weeks away, and now we're dealing with hurricane season. Must mean fall will be knocking. Last week, reality set in: We finished working on the seed and completely dismantled the upwellers. It was one of Catie's last days on the farm so it was only appropriate that we wrap it all up (in her four years working there, she's never been around to see the upwellers go completely empty... or taken out of the dock). We did our final grade on half-inch screen on Thursday, ending up with plenty of seed to go into the nursery. While we normally would have planted it all immediately, we were looking at an oncoming hurricane -- planting would have been a bad idea before a storm that size blew into the bay. So we locked it safely into the walk-in cooler at the shop (where it will stay cool and safe) and will get it into the nursery at some point this week.
While Catie and I finished the grade (and a little reminiscing: "remember how brutal those first lousy weeks of June were?"), the guys took the upwellers out of the dock. This project required a little bit of finesse (we have all those rowing boats to dance around) and a whole lot of brute strength (we have A2). Once the motor and bolts were taken out, the guys systematically lowered the trough to empty the water out, then tied some line through the pipe holes so that four of them could lift it out and put it onto the boat.
It wasn't without its frustrations (or laughs) but we got everything pulled out and put away before lunchtime. Friday, we spent the day storing it all away which required many trips back and forth between the water, the shop, and the farm where we're keeping all of the big stuff. We also spent the morning securing our float in the Bluefish River. I thought moving it ten feet last winter was a big deal but this required separating our two floats, attaching the soaker float (the long flat one which has baskets underneath it where we soak our oysters to keep them cool in the heat) to our mooring in the bay, and pushing our garage float (with our little Carolina boat) all the way over to the river where it would be protected should Hurricane Danny decide to blow super hard.
Of course, the weekend came and went and we survived the storm. But we also had several inches of rain come down on Saturday alone which means the State has shut us down for a few days. Since our oysters are filtering about 30 gallons of water a day, they're eating up whatever's been washed into the bay. Of course, once the waters even out and our oysters are filtering clean water again, they'll be perfectly fine to harvest. (These types of things don't bother oysters who are happy to just sit around and eat all day. Must be nice.) Once the State comes back down to check the waters (probably tomorrow) we'll be able to harvest again. Hopefully there won't be any hiccups because we are going to need some serious numbers in time for Oyster Fest.
Last year, Dave, our friend Nicole, and I all went down and enjoyed an afternoon on the beach, slurping back oysters and plenty of Harpoons. This year, I've gotten to be a part of the planning which I've really enjoyed. And keeping the focus on putting on a green and eco-friendly event has been the coolest part. Not only do we have our pigs ready to go (to the slaughterhouse tomorrow, officially), but the 18 chefs who are coming down are all set to whip up dishes made from a ton of local ingredients: Duxbury striped bass, scallops, razor clams, tuna, heirloom tomatoes, and plenty of our oysters. We're recycling our oyster shells (40,000 to be exact) and using completely compostable dishware and glasses. Pulling it all together has been a pretty smooth process; now it's time to settle in and enjoy it. And we're still selling tickets!