Tucked away deep in the woods at the southern edge of the Tug Hill region of New York. Dragonwood is our off-grid sanctuary. Six acres of pond and gardens bordered by forest on three sides.
The project began in 1995, when after a long search, Debe and I purchased the property from a local logger. To date we have built a cabin, a bridge, out house, two sheds in addition to expansive gardens and stone work. We have a generator, propane lights, refrigerator and grill, a wood stove and modest solar system. A dug well and small stream suitable for watering gardens and other needs and a nearby spring for drinking water.
The Dragonwood Chronicles will serve to document the project with photographs and notes. Future projects will include additions to the cabin, a root cellar and a studio building.
Comments and questions are always welcome.
We enjoy hearing from people who visit Dragonwood Chronicles. Please feel free to leave a comment or ask questions.
Tug Hill: A Four Season Guide to The Natural Side, illustrated and edited by local naturalist and wildlife artist Robert McNamara, is again available for use in learning and navigating the Tug Hill Region. Contributing writers include John Cecil, the late Lee B. Chamberlaine, Peter Gaskin, Glenn Johnson, Donald E. Moore, III, and Lisa St. Hilaire. The guide features a sampling of the plants and animals of ten of the major habitat types that make up the Tug Hill, and includes a narrative of natural events, organized by season. An easy-to-use source for the identification of a variety of species, the 288 pages include 64 beautifully illustrated full-color plates by McNamara.
Perfect for the student and experienced naturalist alike, the book uses a Quick Habitat Finder Guide, a color-coded edge symbol system, for quick and easy reference. This book is a must-have for every nature library, and a gift which will provide hours of enjoyment both at home and in the field.
Get your books in time for holiday gift-giving, and meet it’s creators at our area book signings, scheduled for:
Fall is Garlic planting time. This year we were a little later than we like. Columbus day or thereabout is optimal time, but as long as the ground is still workable you can plant. This year we planted about 50 German White Hard Neck cloves which should yield about 50 nice large bulbs late next July or early August. The cloves were soaked in fish emulsion fertilizer and water before planting. A little smelly but an extra boost for the garlic.
Two tricks to growing garlic are to clip them before they flower. The plant will send out a flowering shoot called a scape. The scape will make a loop and then a second loop. Once the second loop is visable it's time to clip them off before they go to flower. This results in bigger bulbs. These scapes are also edible and provide excellent garlic flavor in cooking, though less pungent than an actual clove. We just chop them up and use as you would use garlic in cooking.
The second point to remember, garlic prefers fairly arid conditions. Do not over water them. In fact in this area we don't water them at all. The rainfall we get in the course of a normal growing season is more than enough. Garlic prefers soil with good drainage and organic matter. A little sand mixed into a good compost mix is an ideal amendment to your soil. A little fish emulsion fertilizer a couple of times during the growing season is all you need to produce fantastic results.
Deb and I are both artists, so essentially Dragonwood serves as our retreat. A getaway if you will. We have been getting a lot of e-mail asking questions about the place, to include the availability of it as a rental. At this time Dragonwood is for our personal use only, however we may consider short term rentals in the future. Ideally we would like to have something similar in Nova Scotia that would be a rental. A place we could vacation/work that would also be available for other artists to rent.
People are always curious why we call our place in the woods Dragonwood. No we are not big into the mythical fantasy realm of Dragons and the dark side.
The simple fact is, during the summer months we have an abundance of dragonflies around the pond. Dragonflies, in the woods, just seemed to work and it appealed to our sense of poetic humor.
Early on, we began to collect dragonfly nic nacs and such. Soon it seemed that the whole dragonfly motif thing had become very trendy. Too trendy for our taste. Always wanting to buck trends and walk our own path, we shifted over more to the actual dragon motif. So now we have a Renaissance Festival, meets Adirondack thing going on.
Dragonwood is completely off the electrical grid and I expect to keep it that way. We enjoy Dragonwood as an escape from the rat race, so why run up more electric bills and higher taxes for an improved lot, not to mention further contributing to the degradation of our planets resources.
We do have a gasoline generator, although it is seldom used. When it is, we usually use it to run power tools. This is a fairly recent addition and in fact most everything at Dragonwood was built with a chain saw and hand tools. My friend J can attest to that. Debe and I, along with our son Kevin II and our friends Dick and J built everything. Our pal Jeremy is helping wire the cabin so that we can tie into the generator, a bank of batteries, an inverter and the solar panels we hope to add this summer. Most that have helped have done so out of friendship a few cold beers and some burgers on the grill.
Dragonwood does have a decent propane grill that serves as our kitchen, along with a couple of five day coolers and a large table made from recycled materials. We have propane lanterns and a rechargeable electric lantern. Additionally we have several old fashioned oil lamps and numerous Tiki torches. The Tiki torches not only provide light but make for a festive atmosphere and the citronella oil helps battle the mosquitos.
Dragonwood has a dug well, however we bring our drinking water with us or visit a nearby public spring with our one and five gallon containers.
A pit privy also known as an out house behind the shed serves us well for our requirements in the sanitation department. The out house is always stocked with lime, TP and baby wipes. The lime helps compost the waste while virtually eliminating any odor issues.
We have a shower stall built for outside use during the summer. We heat water on the grill and you'd think you were staying at the Ritz.