Brand new oysters

Ever wondered how much 100,000 baby oysters weigh? Well, I can tell you. 752 grams, a little over a pound and a half.

Our 100,000 came yesterday, from Mook Sea Farms, in Maine. They’re shipped overnight in a styrofoam cooler, wrapped in a handiwipe. Each oyster is about two millimeters, and they make a pile about the size of a brick.  They look like quinoa.

We put them on the kitchen table, and divided them into fifteen little piles, each pile to go in one mesh bag. I’ve never been a cocaine dealer, but I think it must be a lot like this. We made our little piles, and then carefully transferred a few oysters from the bigger piles to the smaller until they looked about equal.

Then we carefully scooped up each pile and transferred it to a bag, being careful not to lose a single oyster. When we were finished, we shook each handiwipe into a bag, and checked the table for any strays. We cinched each bag, and added a zip tie for good measure. If a bag opens, 7500 oysters will make a break for freedom.

Each of those oysters, now the size of the head of a pin, should reach market size some time next season, or the season after that, if growing conditions are bad. It’s odd to think that something that looks for all the world like a grain of sand is actually an animal.

When all 100,000 were bagged, Kevin and our friend Dave, who’s visiting from Vermont, put them on the boat and took them out to the grant. That’s where they are now, contentedly filtering algae and plankton that are even smaller than they are.

We’ll go out in a couple of days and check on them. If all’s going well, the bags will get a little clogged with feces and pseudofeces, and we’ll have to shake them up to clear the mesh. If all’s going really well, we’ll see a little white ridge on the edge of their shells, the first sign of new growth. They won’t weigh 752 grams for long.

11 people are having a conversation about “Brand new oysters

  1. Pretty cool. I was given a scale that measures grams. Since I already had one that measures ounces and pounds, I thought I’d have little use for the gram scale. But I find I use it quite often. It would have come in handy when measuring out your fifteen piles of oyster babies. My very few anal retentive tendencies would have been allayed.

  2. Hi Tamar,
    This looks pretty cool. All the best of luck with the oysters, I hope you lose very few or none and they all grow well! (swimmingly? sorry, terrible pun).

    On a separate subject – diatomaceous earth – I am considering using it against a woodlice infestation in my garden. I am assured by online garden purveyors that this works and is an organic alternative. However, the wonder that is the web also throws up safety concerns – namely silicosis from inhalation of the silica particles in DE.

    I was googling away and found an old comment in Fiona’s blog over at Cottage Smallholder on this – so wanted to ask if you have an opinion / a creditable source with an opinion on this matter!

    Sorry, that was hellishly long winded way of getting to the point. Oh, and I wouldn’t even bother with the woodlice, except, there are LOTS, and they like nibbling the tender roots of the new plants I’m putting in the garden right now! All the borders in the garden have been covered in several inches of woodchip mulch for years, until I removed it all a couple of months ago, and of course damp woodchip is woodlouse heaven, hence their abundance I think…

    Anyway. I’d appreciate any thoughts on this. Thanks!

    • We use DE in Arizona to get rid of a particular big called a roly poly, mostly in strawberry beds. to my knowledge, no one, save the roly polys, have died yet.

      • Thanks Amanda! nice to hear from someone actually using the stuff (and glad to hear it works too!).

  3. Dealing in baby oysters sounds like the kind of job you threaten your children with- “work hard at school or you’ll have to get a job counting out packages of 100,000 baby oysters!”.

  4. Kate — Using a scale to divide them would have made us MUCH more accurate. We didn’t figure it was worth it, since they’ll be redivided six ways from Sunday before they’re grown. When we divide them out on the water, scales are impractical, so we start as imperfectly as we know we’re going to end.

    Paula — Thanks! Luck is a huge part of oyster farming.

    Maria – My understanding is that food-grad DE (as opposed to the stuff for pools) is fine, especially if you’re using it outdoors. Don’t inhale more than you can help — it’s an irritant — but don’t worry too much about it, either. It’s great for insect control. At least so I’m told. WE’ve only used it around our beehives.

    Hazel — That’s about the size of it. We’ll be handling each of those 100,000 several times before they reach market weight. There are days when it makes a desk job look good.

    SBW – Now THAT is the truly imporant question. It depends so much on conditions. You could get completely wiped out, or you could see almost all of them mature. We’re hoping for at least 60%.

  5. Best of luck with the new crop.
    The only thing I know about oysters is that I love to eat them and what I learned from visiting with you last year.
    Oh, and that I never want to be an oyster farmer.
    Looking forward to some of the best tasting oysters ever.
    All the Best

  6. That is way too cool. Crazy, how something so tiny can grow so quickly!

    Just recently found your blog, btw, and really enjoying it!

Converstion is closed.