Located on the border of New York, USA and Quebec, Canada, we purchased this near 100-acre farm and forest after the events of 9/11, by forming a Quebecois French Corporation (Entreprises LollyGag Inc.), hired local staff, and immediately repaired, renovated, upgraded and converted to a nature reserve, animal sanctuary and retreat by us. It was additionally our primary residence, although I commuted to Manhattan and Beijing a lot (~ once a month).
As seen on TV, LollyGag’s Woop Woop was featured in a one hour TV special for DJ’s birthday…
LollyGag became a party hub, nestled between Montreal and Manhattan, hosting friends a plenty for weekend’s away. Its pool, sauna, hot tubs, barns, animals, apple orchard, forest trails, bbq’s, bedrooms, fire pits, fireplaces and cinema got extensive workouts from a large regular stream of guests.
In snowy winter times we would use the snowdrift banks (often 7 ft high) adjacent to the great room pool doors for Champagne storage. We often worked on a barter trading system in the lovely local community, many of whom remain friends to this day.
- Crop Fields divided into 7 plantations (~27 acres)
- Forest & Lake (~62 acres) plus Private Road (1.5km deep) & Trails
- Animal Husbandry (~3 acres fenced)
- Sheep, Goats, Cow, Lhama, Ducks, Chickens & Rabbits (plus Deer in Forest)
- Private Billabong (Pond) & animal all-weather barns
- Party Home
- 3,200 sq ft Living, 5 Bedrooms / 3 Bathrooms / 2 Dining / 2 Living with wet bar & fireplaces
- 40’ Pool, Sauna & Jacuzzi & 2 Hot Tubs and an 87’ Deck across entire home frontage
- Wired for media streaming throughout
- 10 Outbuildings including indoor parking for 15 vehicles
We chose to name the property using my Australian heritage lingo – LollyGag meaning. “do nothing”. We extended this naming concept to each of our out-buildings and major features…
- Jackaroo – Aussie cowboy (my brothers career)
- Jumbuck – Sheep
- Chook – Chicken (our chickens barn & enclosure)
- Woop Woop – Middle of nowhere
- Ekka – Exhibition (in this case pottery barn)
- Flicks – cinema (plus technical storage)
- Ute – the common utility vehicle
- Yakka – work, hard work
- Never Never – way away, furtherest away
- Billabong – pond or lake water reservoir
While it was a fabulous to enjoy, monthly veterinary, animal feed, barn upkeep & property expense (~ USD $22,000 adjusted for inflation, equivalent of over $33,000 today), combined with frustrating French Quebec laws (absolutely no English, oral or written allowed and focussing exclusively on arcane agriculture policies to detriment of common sense), a thieving local company (TRANSPORT MICHEL NOËL INC. broke onto our property, multiple times, literally destroying a vehicle of ours to make room for his trucks to steal our trees at an industrial level), our inept real estate agent (heavily pushing boundaries of ethics to get the commission, in favor of other parties) and a lying previous owner hiding previous contracts (with InTech forestry) and concealing massive broken infrastructure (electrical, septic, water, bore pumps, hot tubs, bathrooms etc…) at time of purchase, even from our inspectors, and made this a daily and expensive struggle… was it worth it? DJ had a smile on his face every day, Let the photos be the judge…
DJ quickly turned LollyGag into his private petting zoo, with huge monthly veterinarian and feeding costs. He named all the animals which collectively rendered the idea of farming impossible. Adding a full-time handyman to build spaceship sized chicken coops, and luxury stables, it all became a huge cost centre.
We always worried about the animals. Although we had installed heating in some of the barns, DJ decided it best on major freeze days to bring many of the smaller animals inside the main house. So, rabbits, baby goats and lambs often roamed our hallways on coldest winter days.
Our Great Room became the centre of Christmas décor, centered around a 14ft tree we picked from the forest, with a train running around its base. The massive fireplace was adorned with stockings, the stone cocktail bar with eggnog and Christmas bric-a-brac. We had previously purchased 2 massive nutcracker toy soldiers in New York, and these guarded the far end of the room, looking over a miniature forest of lit Christmas trees on the roof above the adjoining sauna. Above our CD collection racks of over 3,000 CD’s (the benefit of my Broadway life and having friends head Sony, RCA Victor and other labels that would include us in the lists for every show recording), we had an army of miniature Santa’s, with their reindeer on guard.
Over the top? Maybe, but our houseguests and I loved it all.
We enjoyed young children staying at Christmas one year,
so Santa’s footprints in fireplace with milk, cookies & carrots were essential:
Picking, felling, dragging and design of our forest Christmas Tree
(with a train that circled around the base protecting the presents):
We had 37 Christmas trees, including a decorated (white plastic)
tree away in the centre of our front field –
this nestled in the snowy field at yuletide evenings was quite special
when seen driving past on the highway at night:
Our dining room alone was larger than our New York apartment. With a traditional wood stove, and our teddy bear collection in glass cabinets covering an entire wall at one end, I insisted on hanging some of my favorite show posters to remind DJ what is paying for everything. He reluctantly relented.
Over the years, we had collected original artwork up the yahzoo… paintings, historical artifacts and sculptures. One of my favorites was an original royal decree signed by Henry VIII with his full wax seal, giving royal assent to providing lands surrounding Windsor Castle to private citizens. Since I was born very near there, I loved this royal decree, and had it framed in a giant perspex boxed frame, with the giant wax seal dangling within the box, so you could see both sides.
But it wasn’t all glamor and ease. LollyGag was very seasonal, the winter months were always challenging with massive snowfalls. On such a large property with long roads on the farm, it required hiring snowplows for the driveways, and industrial snowblowers to clear paths to the doorways. Our pool became an ice-skating rink, the jacuzzi a bar fridge.
The photos of our shooting our rifle need explanation… First, the rifle. was legally licensed to me, with permit, and was intended for animal safety to scare away the coyote/foxes from attacking our animal pens. Only used once with imminent attack, but I shot in the air only to scare away.
Then, when my father visited, he offered to teach DJ how to shoot, since I was often away in NYC. So, my lifetime military career Brigadier General father, spends an hour teaching about gun safety and his decades of expertise, before demonstrating how to shoot at target. Dad misses the target entirely, not once, but 3 times, and blames the rifle sights alignment. DJ takes the rifle, and on first shot, bullseye! Dad said he was just lucky, so DJ fired off 4 more shots, all bullseyes. Dad immediately went to bed.
The photo of the rocks are our version of our guest book. Friends that stay overnight were encouraged to find any rock on the property and write a note. The rocks were then displayed on the walls of Woop Woop.
Our Next Adventure…
After we sold LollyGag (property and vast majority of contents), while commuting back and forth to Beijing, we purchased a secure loft in Montreal and named it HiLoft as our base in North America.