Notes from the farm: Spring is here!

IMG_0185Every year, spring seems to creep up on us and arrive suddenly, out of the blue, as if we hadn’t been obsessively monitoring its arrival for months. Daffodils bloom in the blink of an eye, days are longer and brighter and songbirds are greeting the morning.

One of the absolute best parts of oyster farming is witnessing this change happen on the water as well. Certainly, there is abundant avian life around Washburn Island during the winter, but it pales in comparison to the scope and diversity of the warmer months. And as for the occasional crab or toadfish that comes up from the bottom with a load of oysters – sleepy, dormant and eager to nestle back into the sand.

But the past couple of weeks has proven that winter does indeed have an end. First was the return of the osprey pair that nests on the northeast tip of the island and then, just yesterday, a kingfisher sighting! We caught a quick glimpse of a small tautog in one of our cages; Ursula now starts off the day with a few casts of her fishing pole. An eel slid into the boat with a bag of oysters and we proudly brought it ashore to show off, as if the eel’s re-appearance had anything at all to do with us.

I’ll admit: I’m thinking of putting out the eel traps soon and starting up the grill…..

However, nothing quickens the pulse of an oyster farmer more than finding evidence of new growth on the IMG_0212oyster’s shell. All of the biological changes we notice around Waquoit Bay this time of year are related to the gradual warming of the water temperature and the growth of plankton – food for our oysters! Nothing is better after a long, cold winter than finding an oyster with evidence of growth. It’s as if that beautiful, almost translucent leading edge is proof positive that the seasons change, life goes on, and summer is just around the corner!