It’s that time of year when the water starts to cool down and the oysters start to slow down. That means it’s time to start planning for the winter.
Things change a bit on the farm as we go into winter. Right now the water is still in the low 70s and the oysters are still growing. This is a sweet spot for growth, and we’ll get one last surge as the oysters start to fatten up for hibernation. Once the water gets below 60, growth will slow, but won’t really stop until it gets down to the low 40’s; with that said, growth is effectively done below 50.
This means we are making a last push to get everything tumbled and split out before the cold settles in. Once the water temperature gets toward 50, we’ll stop tumbling the oysters. It would be too much stress on them to do that when they are getting close to hibernation. They would use too much energy repairing the shell we chipped and they would be unlikely to make it untill spring.
Like any animal that hibernates, oysters stock up on food for the winter. They do this by storing up a lot of glycogen in their bodies, and they use that as an energy source to make it through the winter. So if we stress them and cause them to burn energy too fast, they’ll starve before spring.
The nursery also has to be set for the winter. The upweller will get shut off by the end of November, so we need all the little guys to get big enough to either take out to the farm, or at least get big enough to move to the platform. Because the platform doesn’t have a pump and relies on the tide, we can leave oysters on it over the winter.
With the tumbler out of use and the upweller turned off, it’s time to make a dent on our never ending task list that grows out of control over the summer. We’ll be spending our time hand sorting oysters on the water; repairing and building new gear; and getting to some of the projects we’ve been dreaming of but just couldn’t make the time to start. But first, we have to spend the next six weeks getting everything ready for winter!