THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
Mr. Conger has actually resorted to warming fresh water to 60° Fahr. in winter, by steam-pipes running underneath the wooden inclosure surrounding the "fattening" or "plumping" float. One good "drink," as he expressed himself to me, renders the animals fit for sale and of better appearance.
Conger's floats are simply a pair of windlasses supported by two pairs of piles driven into the bottom. Chains or ropes which wind upon the windlasses pass down to a pair of cross-pieces, upon which the float rests, which has a perforated or strong flat bottom, and a rim eighteen inches to two feet high. These floats I should think are about eight feet wide and sixteen feet long, perhaps twenty. These structures are usually built alongside the wharves of the packing and shipping houses, and are really a great convenience in conducting the work.
Elsewhere Lieutenant Ryder speaks of the floats thus:
The diaphragm itself was constructed of boards perforated with auger-holes, and lined on the inside with gunny-cloth or sacking; and the space between the perforated boards was filled with sharp, clean sand. The space between the boards was about two inches; through this the tide ebbed and flowed, giving a rise and fall of from four to six inches during the interval between successive tides.
Mr. F. T. Lane, of New Haven, Connecticut, writes as follows about the method of floating practiced by himself, and, as I understand, by other New Haven oyster-growers:
We do not always leave them two days in the floats—as a rule, only one day. We put them into brackish water and take them out at low water or in the last of the falling tide, as then the water is the freshest and the oysters are at their best. As it is not convenient for us to put them into the floats and take them out the same day, we do not want the water too fresh. On one occasion, wishing to know what the result would be of putting the oysters into water that was quite fresh, I had one of my floats taken up the river, half a mile farther than where we commonly use them, and one hundred bushels of oysters put into it at high water and taken out at low water. They were in the water from six to seven hours and came out very nice, fully as good as those floated twenty-four hours in the brackish water. It was a warm day, and the water was warm. Under these conditions they will drink very quickly. I have seen them open their shells in ten minutes after they were put into the water.
For the following valuable information I am indebted to Mr. R. G. Pike, chairman of the Board of Shell-fish Commissioners of Connecticut:
Connecticut oysters, when brought from their beds in the salt waters of Long Island Sound, are seldom sent to market before they have been subjected to more or less manipulation. As soon as possible after being gathered, they are deposited in shallow-tide rivers where the water is more or less brackish, and are left there from one to four days; the time varying according to the temperature of the season, the saltness of the oysters, and the freshening quality of the water. Generally two tides are sufficient for the two "good drinks" which the oyster-men say they should always have.
This "floating," as it is called, results in cleaning out and freshening the oysters, and increasing their bulk; or, as many oyster-men confidently assert,