Some of us, tired of winter, are starting to daydream about lazy afternoons, cold beers, and oysters. But for the oyster farmers of Wellfleet, now begins the spring cycle of work on the tides.
The air is in the 40s, the wind is blowing 20 m.p.h. The grasses tell you the wind is coming around to the south. Spring is coming to Loagy Bay.
Jason Weisman clears the bottom of his plot, getting it ready for the oysters he’ll bring back onto the tides where the brackish water will nurture them.
John Wallace hauls some of his more than 800 oyster grow-bags into place. Each bag can hold 600 seed oysters, or as few as 200 maturing ones. The oysters spent the winter in pits — an oysterman’s version of a wine cellar, where the temperature hovers around 35 degrees, the humidity is high, and the dormant oysters are safe from winter storms.
Rows of racks ready for grow-out bags to be secured to their rails. While there are many methods for growing oysters — bottom culturing, cage culturing, tray culturing — the bags are perfect for Loagy Bay, where there are low enough tides to make it easy to access them.
The work day of an oyster farmer is set by the tide. On the quarter moon, low tide doesn’t last long and the Loagy Bay farmers hustle to get their work done.
Jason Weisman relies on a Norwegian hat — his favorite — to get through a spring day on the tide.