The Yurt Story

She needs a bath and to get finished, but we are getting there.

Everyone wants to know how I came to own a yurt and why I want to live in one.  It’s a fairly long story, but I’ll blaze through the highlights so you get where I’m coming from.

  • Roughly five years ago my husband (now ex) and I bought a darling farmhouse on 11 acres.  A short while later we decided that our marriage wasn’t long for this world and thanks to the economy we were unable to sell the property.  At the time our two children were young and neither of us wanted to live without them, so we shared the farm-house.  I like my own space so I started looking into options for myself and the kids.  I really liked yurts so that’s what I picked.  (Side note:  The ex and I are very good friends, in fact he’s more like a brother to me.  He is  Uncle to my daughter and good friends with my husband.  It sounds weird to the rest of the world, but it is completely normal to us.  This is our family.)
  • The yurt deck building four and a half years ago was filled with errors and misfortune.  We got it done just before winter, there was no power, no insulation and we had made some critical mistakes while building the deck that we didn’t realize at the time.  The kids and I stayed out there for a while, but not very long.  It was cold and dark and I had the distinct feeling that it wasn’t safe.
  • The yurt sat empty for years while I was busy remarrying, having a baby and living life in a condo.  We took a road trip down to see my in-laws and on the way home stayed in a campground yurt.  Staying in the yurt reminded us how much we loved our yurt and were inspired to try yurt living again.  Immediately after coming home we looked into getting a contractor to fix the existing yurt deck (it was sinking) or to build a new one.  After laughing ourselves silly over the estimates we decided to build a new deck ourselves.
  • About mid May 2011 we started working on the deck and proceeded to work on it all summer.  We hand an enormous amount of help from friends and family and we will forever be grateful for all of the assistance.  It was fun and hard work most of the time.  I got into better shape and learned to use a lot of tools.  I even planed 500 sq feet of reclaimed cherry wood flooring with an electric hand planer, it took forever.  We had learned a lot from doing this the first time around and now we have a much stronger non-sinking deck and yurt.
  • The first weekend in September 2011 we took down the yurt.  It took all weekend and many hands.  It was a beautiful sunny weekend, we barbecued and had a great time with our friends.
  • Two weeks later we put up the yurt.  It was cold, windy and raining.  The mood was much less jovial.  It wasn’t the party from two weeks before.  Our crew was mostly women (Woot!  Woot!).  Totally strong and kick ass women plus my husband, Frank and my ex husband.  We got the yurt up.  It was a relief.  We were so very tired.
  • For the next six or so weeks we worked on finishing the yurt.  Hindered by my husband’s bothersome full-time job (only kind of kidding), a toddler and terrible weather we did what we could.  I was bound and determined to sleep in the yurt for my birthday in the first week of November.  Sleep in the yurt we did.  We even stayed out there for a couple of weeks but it was cold, unfinished and we only had an extension cord for power (notice a pattern?)  There was a part of me that wanted to be successful so bad that I was really trying to make it through the winter, but I was miserable and I absolutely hate to be cold.  We moved back into the farmhouse  a week before Thanksgiving.  We were disappointed and frustrated that we weren’t living the dream… but hey.  At least we were warm.

Photo by Tina Louise

We’ve had the winter to think about what needs to get done, make plans and rest.  There is much to be accomplished to make the yurt a cozy place to be this coming winter.  We need insulation, power, to finish the floors, some sort of bathroom, a sink and I’ m pretty sure we are going to put some skirting around the deck to keep the wind out.

I also need to do some mental shifting.  I need to make peace with the wind and learn to live a more minimalistic life.  After all, there is only 706 sq ft and there are five of us.  It never once dawned on me how much different it would be to live in a yurt instead a stick built house.  Sometimes it makes me uncomfortable thinking that it’s not a proper house.  Then I remember that people do this all the time.  I imagine the plains of Mongolia are awfully windy.  I suppose that families living in a yurts in Alaska or Colorado have more cold to deal with than I do.  In my head I know that I can do this.  I guess I just need to convince my heart.


11 Comments on “The Yurt Story”

  1. Vanessa says:

    I love the photo Tina took, everything seems luminous outside. Good summary of the Yurt to date, It’ll be fun to see/read about it all coming together, and I bet, a really fun thing to blog about. 🙂

  2. Great story! I loved building both decks and learning everything we did. It’s been an amazing experience I wouldn’t trade for the world (even if you threw in a bag of chips). As you have hinted at, my main advice would be to get the yurt completed well before winter cause it’s tough getting anything completed/fixed/operational once the weather turns. Great times!

  3. Tina Louise says:

    Monika, It was such a unique project to be a part of 🙂 with some great people. It was a good set of weekends, and thinking about it now, what a huge task that got accomplished! Two thumbs up …

  4. 10000lux says:

    Love your writing style – very bewtiched indeed to see how solve the electricity and bathroom dilemmas. From your very very urban friend ; )

  5. andi says:

    love the new blog! and the yurt, and the chickens, and your unique and lovely family.

  6. yaga says:

    My boyfriend and me build our own yurt a couple of years ago. It was a very exciting project but we never got to live in it because we couldn’t find a place to put it up and then we moved abroad. It’s funny how people are so drawn to them… I just love round rooms, they are so magical! :o)

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