Maintenance 5-12-14 to 5-18-14

When I checked my cages on Mother’s Day, I was pleased to see that while my oysters had grown a bit over the past three weeks, there was only modest growth of fouling organisms on my cages.  As the water continues to warm, the degree of fouling growth will accelerate rapidly, so I will be sending out weekly letters as a reminder to keep up the good work of maintaining your cages. If you have not yet had an opportunity to do the “Spring Cleaning” of your oysters and cages, I have attached the April 21st maintenance letter for your convenience.

This week, maintenance was very minimal.  Here is what I did:

  1. I actively dunked each cage up and down to remove the loose silt and sediment from the cages and the oysters.
  2. I gave the cages a quick shake to keep the oysters from growing together.
  3. I left the cages on the dock for about two hours so that the sun and gentle breeze would dry out and kill the last three weeks of accumulated growth.
  4. I took my Mom out to Mother’s Day Brunch while I was waiting for the Sun and breeze to do their work!
  5. Two hours is the maximum exposure time for the oysters.  90 minutes is probably enough.  I usually set a timer so that I don’t forget to put the oysters back in the water.
  6. I gave the cage one more shake to make sure that the oysters were evenly distributed on the bottom of the cage before I put them back in the water.
  7. Most people’s oyster cages are not attached to a floating dock like mine are, so it is important to make sure that:  A)  The cages never rest on the creek or river bottom.  B) During the growing months, the top of the cages are about six inches below the surface of the water at mean low tide.
  8. To save yourself some time and to be sure that your lines have not slipped from one week to the next, once you have carefully placed the cages at the desired level, put some electrician’s tape on the rope right where you have the rope attached to your dock.  If the rope slips for some reason, you will be able to see that that has occurred!

Since our last maintenance letter, you should have received from us a save-the-date card for our 3rd Annual Oyster Social.  It will be held in the Crystal Room of the Tidewater Inn starting at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, June the 12th.  We will send you a formal invitation with a response card in the not-too-distant future.  This event is one of our ways of saying thank you for being one of our growers.  It also affords you the opportunity to bring a neighbor or friend who might also be interested in becoming a grower!

We have set a tentative pick-up date for your oysters:  Thursday, June the 5th.  We will let you know for sure in next week’s maintenance letter.  While it is not an absolute necessity for you to be there when we arrive, we do prefer that you be there if you can.

In past years, we have picked up your oysters and your cages.  As you may recall from the last maintenance letter, this year we will only be picking up your oysters, not your cages.  Our volunteers will be leaving your cages on your dock when they are done.  From there, you can do a final thorough cleaning of the cages and either leave them on the dock or move them somewhere on dry land until they are needed when we deliver your next batch of oysters in September.

Our volunteers thank you in advance for the time that you are taking to clean and maintain your cages.  Routine maintenance of your cages will help to prevent / control fouling, which will help the oysters to grow more quickly and prevent the cages from becoming too heavy for our volunteers to handle.


Many Hands Make Light Work!

If you would also be interested in being one of our volunteers to help pick up the oysters, we will gratefully accept your help.  With everything we do, we try very hard to do it right and have fun while we do it!  When it comes to the pick-up and delivery of your oysters, we try to be highly organized.  We want to make sure that everything is pre-planned to help ensure that our volunteer’s time is not wasted and that there is not too much work for any one volunteer.

We provide all of the tools necessary for the work at hand.  We provide written, detailed,  pick-up and delivery routes and directions and we provide refreshments for all in attendance.  The more volunteers, the more fun it is and as a result there is, of course, less work for each volunteer.  If you have a pick-up truck and would like to be one of our “Oyster Chauffeurs”, please let us know.  Please call Kelsey at 410-822-9143.  Kelsey handles all of the logistics for the pick-up and deliveries and does an outstanding job.

Thank you for all of your time and help.  We sincerely appreciate your participation in our oyster-growing initiative.  We are almost 100% certain that Thursday, June the 5th will be the oyster pick-up date, but we will let you know for sure next week.  Thanks again!

The Oyster Reef Recovery Initiative