Glenlochan -The Beginning

Glenlochan -The Beginning
Glenlochan - The Beginning

Glenlochan Today

Glenlochan Today
Glenlochan Today

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

We're Oyster People Now

Yup, we are now oyster farmers.  We "planted" 1000 baby oysters by our pier this past weekend as part of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Oyster Gardening Program.  The oyster population has been severely compromised in the Bay for decades now, and the Foundation works to restore the oyster population as one aspect of Bay clean-up.  A single adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day - that's a lot of water cleaning by a 3 inch oyster!

A combination of over-harvesting and diseases introduced by Pacific oysters have taken its toll on the Bay oysters since the 1960's.  The oyster gardening program was developed to enlist citizen assistance in raising oysters and replenishing the oyster population.   We will grow these babies for 1 year at which time those that survive will be mature and able to reproduce.  (The goal is to produce oyster baby-making machines.)  The mature oysters that we return to the Foundation next year will be planted on one of over 100 protected oyster bed reefs that have been started in the Bay, safe from harvesting, to allow the oysters to reproduce and their offspring to be spread throughout the Bay.

I'm not exactly sure what we were expecting when it was time to receive our 1000 oysters after the seminar, but the small net bag that fit in my hand was not it!

Baby oysters are very, very tiny.

As you can imagine, oysters this tiny are tempting food for a lot of predators.  As such, we have to provide a habitat that allows the oysters to be suspended in the water column with room to grow, but protected from blue crabs and the like.  So, we opted for the "mesh bag" habitat, which is then attached to floats on each side to suspend the oysters in the water.  Here you can see Rob attaching the floats to each side of the mesh bag:

Once the floats were attached, as instructed, we placed the oysters in the bag...

gave the bag a good shake to spread out the baby oysters and maximize their exposure to the water (which provides them food and oxygen)..

and tied off the top to keep them inside the bag and potential predators outside:

Once they were safe and snug in their new home, we placed them in the water and secured them tightly to our pier.

Oysters can pretty much care for themselves - as we were told, growing oysters is really just one step above having a pet rock!  We'll need to flip the float once each week, clean off any algae and sediment to maximize the oysters exposure to the water (and their growth), and check the bag for baby blue crabs that sometimes get inside and eventually could grow big enough to eat the oysters.  (As they told us, if that happens, we'll have no oysters left but one big happy crab in our bag!)

A few fun facts we learned at the seminar:
  • Oysters can be out of the water for several hours or even a day, but if you put them in a bucket of water, they will die very quickly because they will deplete the oxygen in the water.
  • Oysters can survive being frozen in ice in the winter, but they can die if exposed to the winter elements outside of the water.
  • Oysters reproduce externally (the egg and sperm are released into the water and hopefully meet up).
  • Oysters are either male or female, but they can change sex during their life cycle.
  • Oyster shells are an important part of water habitat, so returning shells (even sans the oyster) is good for the Bay.  Oyster shell driveways were very popular (but not good for the Bay) and we still see the remnants of the old oyster shell driveway at Glenlochan.
A final look at our oyster farm, below.  Stay tuned as we report on survival and growth rates!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Good News, One Step Done!

Finally, a bit of good news.  Because our house sits in a designated federal historic district, all changes to the exterior of the structure require approval from the Urbanna Historic Review Board (after notice to adjacent property owners and publication in the paper).  Although we were told our HARB hearing on our plans for the house (scheduled for July 6th) had been postponed until the 20th due to an anticipated lack of a quorum of the Board to function, there ended up being a quorum that night.  We weren't there for the hearing since we didn't think it was happening, but apparently all of our design plans for Glenlochan were approved with great support from the Town!  We are super excited that this step is out of the way.  Next steps include building permits and final construction blueprints.  Check out the conceptual design of our home (front and back) below, thanks to the talents of our architect, Chris Riddick.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Reinforcements and Demo Prep

One would think that demolition to take a house down to the studs just involves jumping in and starting the destruction.  That's what I thought, anyway, but nope - it actually requires quite a bit of preparation.  Luckily, our son Jake arrived on scene from California to give us a hand with the prep.  Jake landed at the Richmond airport first thing in the morning a few days prior to the Fourth of July holiday and "fresh" from the red-eye for his vacation, luggage and all, we whisked him out to Urbanna and put him to work.  Never mind that he hadn't slept at all on the plane, we were on a mission and a schedule.  It was a hot sweaty day, and he didn't complain (much), and we got the house largely ready for demo.  First on the list was clearing the attic of the remaining trash and debris - it was hot and sweaty, so I stood at the bottom of the attic stairs while they hurled items and trash down to me.  Surprisingly, there was one good "find" still in the attic:

And under the old rule of "finders/keepers," Jake is now the proud owner of a fantasic pair of old spectacles:

Jake and I were able to test out the temporary slide that Rob had built for the demo (another prep item) and it worked like a charm:

We also removed all of the light fixtures and doors and other items we wanted to save.  During a quick break, Jake decided to try out the machete (yes, as in my bamboo machete) on the walls - we quickly determined that was not the tool of choice for plaster and drywall demo.

Later that week, we decided to give Jake a deserved break (it was his vacation after all!) and Rob and I went back out to lay the protective boards over all of the hardwood floors we intend to save and refinish.  We purchased and wrestled 50 four by eight sheets from the home store in Richmond to our trailer and then to Urbanna and into the house. 

Actually, I think it's fair to say that I wrestled with my end of the boards and Rob didn't even break a sweat the entire time.  The good news is that the floors are squarely protected for the demo to come.