NOVEMBER - ISLAND CREEK OYSTER FARM

As November approached, I hardly imagined there would be as much to write about or take photos of as there had been through the summer and early fall. To the contrary, there was - in many ways - lots more happening. In addition to working the oysters throughout the Bay and the Back River Nursery, there was the breaking down, pulling in, and organizing of thousands of pieces of gear & equipment throughout the month, in preparation for the winter. The month was consistently cold, windy and wet. It wasn’t until the final week that - FINALLY - I figured out how to stay reasonably dry and warm. Most of the oyster-work for me was spent on the Saquish lease with Joe R. on point - who also supervised us getting gear out of the water, to be stacked on dry land.
— oatbay
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#google

#google


welcome, tim mahoney!

… to the farm crew

“To be, or not to be - that’s the question” …  (I met Tim a couple of years ago at the Winsor House, and we’ve been buds since!).

“To be, or not to be - that’s the question” … (I met Tim a couple of years ago at the Winsor House, and we’ve been buds since!).


Early November

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Pulling gear and stacking equipment

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Joe & Nick, pulling the empty grows* from the Back River Nursery, with Tim standing by to receive them.

  • Grows are large floating trays that contain six large black mesh bags (see the photo above of bags about to be power-washed) of thousands of baby oysters per tray, safely growing in this excellent tidal zone Spring through mid-Fall. When they baby oysters are big enough, they’re planted in the Bay to become Island Creek, Row 34, or Aunt Dotty oysters.

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Nick & Tim, racking and stacking the grows on ICO’s Washington Street property.


ICO’S HUNTS LEASE: night farming

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Me, Cory, Emily, Ursula, Tim, Hannah (behind the camera), Skip (behind Hannah, farming!). Absent from the photo are Shawna, Cat, and Nick, who’s silhouettes are somewhere in the lower-left picture below. #hannahpearson15

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The  Orion  constellation, setting SSW at around 5:00am.  #wikipedia

The Orion constellation, setting SSW at around 5:00am. #wikipedia

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Ursula showed us the way of oystering under a canopy of stars and constellations on a rare & beautiful moonless night, followed by a spectacular dark/clear morning. Temps were in the upper teens on the Hunts lease, and I wasn’t 100% dressed for it!

the Orion constellation

Orion is big and obvious. He rises from the East late at night, and sets to the West early in the morning. He is lovely and bright, and dominates the night sky, our protecter.
— oatbay
Orion is a prominent constellation located on the celestial equator and visible throughout the world. It is one of the most conspicuous and recognizable constellations in the night sky. It was named after Orion, a hunter in Greek mythology. Its brightest stars are Rigel (Beta Orionis) and Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis), a blue-white and a red supergiant, respectively.
— Wikipedia

Mid to late November

ICO’s Saquish Lease

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Map of Saquish Neck showing
Saquish Head, sometimes called Saquish Beach or simply referred to as Saquish, is located at the end of the peninsula at the entrance to the confluence of Plymouth and Duxburys Bay in Massachusetts, and is a headland and the small private settlement located on that headland. It is located east of Clark’s Island and west of Gurnet Point. Its only access by land is from the Powder Point Bridge at Duxbury Beach 5 miles to the north by foot or by 4-wheel drive beach buggies, but access is restricted to property owners, residents and their guests.

Saquish was likely an island at the time of the arrival of the Pilgrims. The prevailing story concerning the name “Saquish” is that it derives from a Wampanoag name meaning “abundance of clams”, but one writer says he believes it to mean “small creek”.

Today, many summer cottages line the beach. Because there is no electrical connection with the mainland, houses operate under solar, wind, or propane power. The nearest retail and service area is in Hall’s Corner, Duxbury. Catholic mass is held weekly on the beach on Saturdays from Independence Day to Labor Day. Entrance to the Gurnet Point and Saquish is guarded by security services and it is required that visitors check in prior to entering the beach.
— Wikipedia
“Road From Saquish” by Bettina Lesiur, Duxbury artist

“Road From Saquish” by Bettina Lesiur, Duxbury artist

This weeks were a daily bumpy ride out to the Saquish lease, with Joe Rankin behind the wheel negotiating every pothole. We experienced consistently unsettled weather every day.

This weeks were a daily bumpy ride out to the Saquish lease, with Joe Rankin behind the wheel negotiating every pothole. We experienced consistently unsettled weather every day.

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Joe, considering the options on a particularly stormy day.

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The green dot marks Duxbury.  It was a bit windy over the weekend.

The green dot marks Duxbury. It was a bit windy over the weekend.

This was taken from Saquish Head, more ore less facing Kingston.

This was taken from Saquish Head, more ore less facing Kingston.

This is a watercolor i did in 2001 from a memory of a line of squalls off of Cuba that slammed into the 36 ketch I crewed on, for delivery to Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

This is a watercolor i did in 2001 from a memory of a line of squalls off of Cuba that slammed into the 36 ketch I crewed on, for delivery to Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

Duxbury Beach - 2nd Crossover

Duxbury Beach - 2nd Crossover

Yours truly  #shambs715

Yours truly #shambs715

From the shore of the Saquish lease looking west toward Clark’s Island.

From the shore of the Saquish lease looking west toward Clark’s Island.

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After a week of high winds out of the east, Nick and I were tasked with returning hundreds of Back River oyster bags into the bay. It was heavy work. Nick grumbled to me: “to bad we don’t have a dolly …” Low and behold, my brother-in-law David has a dolly for his dingy at the family cottage right next door. I pulled the dolly from the garage and gathered some old boards lying around ICO’s wood shop. Nick then lashed them on the dolly to transport the bags.

late november

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Shawna, Hannah, Cat, Emily, Matt, and Tim off-loading oyster trays that they had stacked on ICO’s barge to transport from the Hunts lease to the dock.

the crummy weather is winding down

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6:30am, from the dock.

6:30am, from the dock.

6:37am. That’s Joe, with Bayside Marine and Duxbury Bay Maritime School in the background. Note the split wood on the deck.

6:37am. That’s Joe, with Bayside Marine and Duxbury Bay Maritime School in the background. Note the split wood on the deck.

6:45am from the skiff. The Oysterplex will be pulled from the Bay early December.

6:45am from the skiff. The Oysterplex will be pulled from the Bay early December.

november 30: cold, calm, and perfect

The Bennett camp near the Saquish lease.

The Bennett camp near the Saquish lease.

Billy Bennett’s farm (Skip’s Dad) abuts the same Saquish lease that ICO farms.

Billy Bennett’s farm (Skip’s Dad) abuts the same Saquish lease that ICO farms.

The hobo fire pit we fired-up today kept us warmer and drier while we were bagging Aunt Dotty’s.

The hobo fire pit we fired-up today kept us warmer and drier while we were bagging Aunt Dotty’s.

Joe and Nick were inspecting the   grows and found some company doing the same.  #farmer-rankin

Joe and Nick were inspecting the grows and found some company doing the same. #farmer-rankin

a footnote

xiamen, China

the suminoe oyster

Joy’s and my friends and neighbors, the Scanlons, live right across the street from us. Megan travels a lot for work, and earlier this month she was in Xiaman, China. At the same time I had been reading “The Geography Of Oysters” and had just finished a paragraph on the Chinese oyster Suminoe (Sumo for short, as in those huge wrestlers). Meg’s Instagram message below is what caught my attention:

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Xiaman oysterplex …

Xiaman oysterplex …

… culler

… culler

… and farmer.

… and farmer.

This Chinese oyster is sometimes known as the Platter oyster, due to its size and flat profile, but considering its Asian name of Suminoe, its propensity to get immense is quite obvious!
— Rowan Jacobson - "A Geography Of Oysters"
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I did a little research and learned that Xiamen is a highly industrialized bay, so I gotta wonder about the size of these oysters. Are they mutants ;-/ …?

november - the end!

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