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.
Well,.... being that it is winter and all, I tend to do a lot more reading. One of my next projects at Dragonwood is a multi purpose underground building. The primary function will be that of a root cellar, so my latest read was Root Cellaring by Mike and Nancy Bubel. This book is an excellent read, well written and interesting but also full of specific detailed information on planting and growing root cellar crops, to harvesting and winter storage. The book also informs of the history of root cellaring and covers a variety of designs and suggestions on building your own root cellar and then how best to use it. I took this book out from our local library but have decided it is a must for my own library and will refer to it as a point of reference in my own root cellaring endeavors.
I happen to have an ideal spot picked out where I will have to do minimal excavating for a 10' X 12' earthship/cordwood root cellar. My intention is to divide this into two small rooms. One that will have a dirt floor and the other a concrete floor. There are advantages to doing this for different types of storage. The back wall and two side walls will be earthship style in that I intend to recycle tires rammed with dirt. The living roof will be supported by hemlock beams from some trees I need to clear for garden expansion and the front, northeast facing wall will be cordwood masonry. This design should not only function well, but have some aesthetic appeal and the side benefit of allowing me to try out three alternative construction techniques. Earthship construction, living roof and cordwood masonry, all of which I hope to include to varying degrees in other future projects.
The root cellar will a labor intensive project but will also be a good classroom as I get first hand experience in these alternative building methods. As in all of my projects everything is subject to change and the cordwood could easily be interchanged with slip form masonry once I am to that stage of the project.
I am looking forward to this project and Root Cellaring is an invaluable guide for me in this project. If you have any interest in putting food by without the use of electricity this book is for you! Highly recommended!
I am constantly hearing from people looking to go off-grid. Everyone wants to do it, but few seem to have a plan. This book in my opinion is a must read for anyone wanting to buy property on or off grid and not be shackeled by a monthly mortgage payment.
Trust me this is for real! We did it.
Click on the image of earthwood in the sidebar to be redirected to their web site where you will find this book and many others by Mr. Roy!
You've no doubt heard of this classic, first published in 1954 and then re-published with Continuing the Good Life in 1979. This is the ultimate back to the land bible that chronicles 60 years of self sufficient living.
The story of the Nearing's "Forest Farm" in Vermont and then their move to rural Maine has been and remains an inspiration for homesteaders of multiple generations. The book covers their search for rural land and then carving out an organic, off-grid life, long before anyone even used those terms.
The Nearing's political views were very controversial and therefore some folks are put off. Being a libertarian myself, my politics run counter to their ideas on collectivism, yet I can still admire them for the pioneers that they were. They held stead fast to their beliefs and lived it everyday in their lives. I first read this book almost 30 years ago and have read it again and again since. It is as relevant today as it was when it was first written. If you are interested in self sufficiency this is a must read in my opinion!
This short video gives you a glimpse of the region. In talking with people from different parts of the country I often sense that many people picture New York City when they think of New York. It is difficult for some folks to imagine vast wilderness areas and pristine forests with clean rivers and lakes.
The Tug Hill region is about the size of the state of Rhode Island and lays between Lake Ontario and the Adirondacks.
In addition to the core forest area there are many family farms, great cross country skiing and snowmobiling. The Salmon River and it's tributaries as well our many lakes and ponds make for great sport fishing. We also have a growing Amish population. Oswego county aloan now has over 300 Amish families that have moved here over the last five or six years. Wide open spaces, cheap land and an abundance of fertile soil and fresh water make this area very attractive for those who wish to live off the land.
It does take a strong spirit to endure our harsh winters. Lake effect snow piles up on average between 200" - 300" every year.