Tag Archives: yurt

Renovating

Standard

We are knee-deep in yurt renovations this week and are using the time to “camp” in our front yard in our heated trailer (so not really camping at all).

All of our things are packed into containers or boxes; it is easy to see that we still have too much stuff. Hopefully more downsizing will happen as we unpack. Hopefully.

Mike has been on the roof quite a bit lately:

IMG_0912

Trying to figure out the angles

IMG_0907

Working on the roof

Here is our to do list for the yurt:

  • re-insulate and re-brick the inside of the Rayburn 
  • add another radiator to the system and hook everything up
  • sew a new roof
  • sew new walls
  • attach a giant zipper to the roof and walls
  • winterize the yurt with carpets and rugs

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Back to the Blog

Standard

It has been a quick summer, and I can hardly believe that September is nearly over. We spent a good deal of time visiting family and friends, playing in the garden, and de-junking over the past few months. As usual, I’m still aspiring to be a minimalist, despite my hoarding tendencies. I guess I’ve had my head stuck in the sand because I had no idea I had left the blog for so long. I hope you (Mom and my three other readers) had a good summer.

In yurt news: we bought new canvas from Yurta and will be replacing the outer layer of the yurt any day now.

We had opted for 100% cotton canvas treated with silicone when we first built the yurt, and are sad to say that it did not last. We have a few holes, some mildew (mostly from the hay that we stacked around the yurt over the winter), and the roof is no longer waterproof (it hasn’t been for quite some time).

This time around, we are going with acrylic coated polyester for the roof, and new cotton canvas for the walls. We tried our best to stick with natural materials, but found that the cotton couldn’t handle the UV rays or the elements for too long (to be fair, it has taken quite a beating over the past two years). We have heard good things about the polyester from the folks at Yurta, who are much more skilled and experienced than us when it comes to yurts, so we are confident it will serve us well.

We are hopeful that the new stuff will last a while since we have become attached to the yurt and don’t want to leave it anytime soon.

In farm news: we are in the midst of harvesting our veggies; despite it being a disappointing year (compared to last year), we are enjoying lots of good food fresh from the dirt. We have been eating and freezing a lot of soup.

The ducks, all grown up.

The ducks, all grown up.

In other news: I spent a solid three hours (maybe more?) going through the things we have stored in our shed. While my mother-in-law entertained the wee one, I was able to find such gems as: a decade-old postcard that was never sent, my Mom’s Storm Trooper ski boots from the 80’s, and The Little Mermaid CD that I swore I would never show to my kids. I have another couple of days ahead of me, but I feel optimistic. Although we still have way too much stuff, we are less attached to it and are having a good time giving it away. Maybe by this time next year, we will have gone through everything we own and will have scaled down to a satisfactory amount of crap.

Have a good weekend! 🙂

Off-Grid: Spring

Standard

At the beginning of the year, I made a list of goals that I hoped we would accomplish throughout 2014. One of those goals was to live off-grid for one week each season (read about winter here).

We enjoyed being off-grid quite a bit (we did it for 6 weeks), but decided that we do like some aspects to electricity (of course): namely, the fridge. Until we find a better option, we will continue to plug in the fridge; we will also use the vacuum-cleaner. It isn’t difficult to live without it, but it certainly makes cleaning a much quicker process. We brought in a small radio but have yet to bring in any electrical lighting. We have two solar-powered lamps for reading and knitting, and a few oil lamps for ambient lighting.

Evenings: Our evenings were spent working on projects for the most part (Mike improved little things in the yurt that made a big difference to our day-to-day tasks; I worked on a sweater for Alma, along with a quilt for her bed).

Days: Aside from the lack of music, not much was different from regular days.

What We Liked: Again, the quiet was nice. I enjoyed not listening to the news every hour and was happy to keep my head in the sand for a few weeks.

What We Missed: The fridge and the freezer. Once the weather warmed up, it became a real challenge to keep food from spoiling.

A Cow in the Yurt

Standard

Journal from March 5, 2014

As Alma and I attempted to clean the house and prepare for a Mardi Gras pancake supper, Mike went out to feed the cows and put them in the barn for the night. He noticed our two bulls standing together in a strange place and investigated. Surrounded by snow lay a newborn calf who blended in so well with the surroundings that Mike would have missed her were it not for her spectators. He picked up the tiny cow and brought her into the barn to warm up.

After about an hour of trying to warm her in the barn, he carried her into the yurt and lay her down near the stove. Mike, his mom (a retired vet), and I spent the night cuddling the calf and trying to feed her via bottle (rubber nipple attached to an old soy sauce bottle).

Even the dog was worried about the little calf

Even the dog was worried about the little calf

Thankfully, our friend Kris was able to give us fresh milk from his farm for the newest member of ours, as the calf’s mother seems unable to nurse (she’s had problems with mastitis in the past). The calf began to warm up from the heat of the stove (and possibly from the many hands patting her), but her body temperature was (and still is) way below normal.

Sound asleep

Sound asleep

We called a vet who came and intubated her so that we could get some colostrum into her system. He fears that she has an intestinal obstruction that will prevent her from passing anything. We are praying for a miracle. I have high hopes for the sweet little cow resting peacefully on my kitchen floor. She is making cute noises in her sleep.

Feeding Maria

Feeding Maria

We have decided to name her Queen Maria. Queen – because her mother’s unfortunate name is Princess; Maria – because I am currently reading The Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp and am in love with it.

Alma wasn't too sure about Maria at first

Alma wasn’t too sure about Maria at first

Update: Unfortunately, the calf ended up passing away in her sleep that night. We assume the vet was correct in thinking that she had an abdominal obstruction of some sort. On a brighter note, two healthy calves were born this past month (one of them today!).

Farewell, Winter

Standard

Winter seemingly flew by this year despite having lasted a solid 6 months. Always armed with an extra pair of leggings and a wool sweater, I felt confident staring down the cold winter days. The weather outside was pretty frightful sometimes, but the fire inside was indeed delightful.

February brought a lot of pancake breakfasts, for no apparent reason, which made the month more exciting. Alma discovered that she enjoys stirring pancake batter.

oops

I spent most winter evenings reading or working on a knitting or sewing project. I read a few great books, as well as a few not-so-great ones. On the craft front, I didn’t accomplish anything remarkable, but I enjoyed my time.

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

I spent a good deal of time researching and planning our vegetable garden. We ordered our seeds early and were raring to go at the beginning of March; however, due to the three feet of snow and the -20 nights, the season has been pushed back a few weeks so we didn’t plant until near the end of March. We have a quite a few little plants in the yurt now and our home has become a glorified greenhouse.

Last day of March

Last day of March

January

Standard

January was a strange month weather-wise. It was really cold for a few days in the yurt, so we bundled up and looked fashionable:

So many layers of wool...

So many layers of wool.

Then, it suddenly got warm and every surface became a skating rink:

Safely navigating our way across the driveway in a box.

Safely navigating our way across the driveway in a box.

The husband shaved his beard and we got fancy for an evening:

The Bearded Wonder is now a teenage version of himself.

The Bearded Wonder is now a teenage version of himself.

I did a decent amount of knitting and finally finished Alma’s doll:

IMG_6030

She finally has a face!

She finally has a face!

Alma really loved her for about three minutes.

Mike went away for a weekend so Alma and I took over the farm duties for a couple days. On our first morning we noticed a broken heat lamp, a broken post in the barn (the cows always get feisty when Mike is away), and the best part: a dead rooster. All was fine in the end and we enjoyed hanging out with the animals. We must have been feeling motivated because we finished the chores, ate breakfast, and even washed the dishes by 9am. After a nap, we de-cluttered and got rid of some stuff. Because, this:

I won't post pictures showing the rest of the yurt that day.

I won’t post pictures showing the rest of the yurt that day… imagine this x 40.

With Mike away, I told Alma she had to pull her weight; so, she started doing household chores at the tender age of one:

Vacuuming.

Vacuuming with a yurt-pole.

Alma played:

She only likes the highest quality of toys.

She only likes the highest quality of toys.

We took a few naps:

Alma passed out on my lap; I'm wearing my neck-extending scarf and the sweater I never take off.

I might have worn that sweater every day of the month.

So, that was January!

 

Winterizing the Yurt

Standard

Winter in the yurt has been quite cosy in comparison to last year. We have a “sunroom” which blocks out [most] the wind, carpets that keep our feet warm, and a newly-sewn breeze rejector (sounds like a superhero, does it not?) that keeps the wind from gushing in under the the canvas/felt.

Last winter can be summed up by this image of a very bundled new mother nursing her tiny infant near the stove.

Image

The drying diapers were daily art pieces in the yurt last winter.

This winter, so far, is quite the opposite. Although I continue to be quite well-bundled I am much warmer now that I am not restricted to life in a chair. Alma runs around most of the day, so she is always warm, and if I fulfill the day’s quota of cooking, cleaning, and playing, I also stay quite toasty.

Image

Yurt in the Summer

Image

Yurt in the Winter

 

Image

Yurt in the Summer

Image

Yurt in the Winter

 

Our weather has been strange and yet completely normal for a Canadian winter. We have had snow, ice pellets, freezing rain, rain, sun; snow that feels like mashed potatoes, snow that sounds like styrofoam, and fluffy snow that hides the menacing layer of ice hiding just beneath it. 

The yurt has been as warm as any “normal” house most days this winter (even when it is -25 outside); however, we have had a few chilly mornings that warranted enough extra layers of wool that we looked as if we were about to climb a mountain. 

Happy New Year!

Standard

Happy 2014!

In 2014 we are hoping to:

Yurt

  • finish our bathroom (install a tub so that we don’t have to shower at the in-laws’ in the winter)
  • build a new front door for the yurt (one with a window that doesn’t let the frost in)
  • build a bed/room for the wee one

Farm

  • plant things on-time and stagger certain vegetables (lettuce, carrots) so we can enjoy eating them all summer and don’t have to harvest everything at once
  • join a farmers’ market and sell our produce
  • take a permaculture course

Life

  • stop being such hoarders and learn to live with less
  • become an organized person (develop a semblance of a regular schedule; keep house clean at all times (ha); dazzle husband with array of home-cooked meals)
  • succeed at random challenges (e.g. have nice hair without shampoo; bake gluten-free sourdough bread that actually tastes good; live completely off-grid for one week each season) – we are open to suggestions if you have a crazy idea that you’d like to see come to fruition!

Christmas in the Yurt (year two)

Standard

December 20th: Our annual Christmas party was cancelled due to bad weather; we had already booked my niece to babysit so we went on a date. We drank hot drinks at a small cafe playing Christmas music and then walked around the old campus in the snow. Weather: cold and snowing

Image

A perfect winter’s day

December 21st: My parents arrived at the yurt after driving through freezing rain for most of the day.  Weather: lots of snow in the morning, freezing rain the rest of the day

Image

Decorating a Charlie Brown tree for Nanny & Papa’s hotel room

December 22nd: Church was cancelled due to the ice. Downside: my sweet nieces didn’t get to be angels in the nativity play, which was a bit disappointing for them. The upside: everyone was showered and wearing nice clothes. We spent the day in the yurt with my parents; lost power around lunchtime. We lit the oil lamps, decorated the tree, and hung Christmas gifts from the ceiling. Weather: everything covered in slippery ice, warm 

Image

Christmas gifts rained from the ceiling

December 23rd: Still no power. We went for a beautifully snowy walk and took pictures in front of the ice-covered trees; Mike and my Mom had a snowball duel in the field. Weather: a bit of snow, still fairly warm (-10 ish)

Image

It was a good day for a snowball fight

December 24th: No power for most of the day. The grandparents babysat the wee girl at the hotel (they had power) and managed to get her down for a nap (Grandparents: 1, Alma: 0) while Mike and I did some last minute Christmas and grocery shopping. We had a very fun time and were surprised by how friendly everyone was to us. We realized later that we looked like young versions of Santa and Mrs. Claus in our red coats and Santa hats.
We were preparing supper when the Christmas lights turned on and the yurt turned into a scene from a Christmas movie. Christmas lights and music have never been so welcome. The power turned off again about ten minutes later. Alas, we went to church  and had a lovely time singing carols with friends.
The Great Christmas Electricity Miracle had returned in our absence and the yurt was again a beautiful sight. We ate way too much food and had good laughs with both Nannies, Papa, and our friend Isabelle. After tucking my two favourite people into bed, I cleaned up the kitchen and got the yurt ready for Christmas morning. This is the first year I understand what Christmas is like for adults as I finally got to bed at 3:30am. Weather: cold

Image

Christmas Eve

 December 25th: We woke up to a smiling baby and a blue sky. Though it was cold outside, the yurt was balmy and we were cosy.

Image

Christmas Morning

Grandparents arrived; we opened gifts and ate copious amounts of sweet treats. “Brunch” was finally on the table at 1:30pm. We made Christmas supper at Nanny’s house because our oven was at 600 degrees (the husband wanted to keep the guests warm). We had a fun time around the fireplace with friends and family before heading home to bed. Weather: cold. 

Image

Christmas in the yurt

December 26th: We had a visit from our good friend, Alex, who not only helped Mike carry a couch from the barn to the yurt and cut wood, but also entertained the wee one for hours. We had lemon meringue pie for my step-Dad’s birthday and played a game of Trivial Pursuit 90’s Edition (my much sought-after Christmas gift). Weather: cold and snowy. 

Image

Spreading Christmas cheer

December 27th: Christmas Day II. We cooked a communal meal with my husband’s family and ended up with eighteen of us around the table. We went sliding and sat around the fireplace as we opened gifts. It was a very fun-filled day. We said sad goodbyes to my parents who were heading home and headed home ourselves. Alma was pretty sleepy on the walk home (which was only about five minutes) and fell asleep in her snowsuit as Mike was about to unzip her. We tried to watch a stand-up comedian on the computer but only last about twelve minutes before we also fell asleep. Weather: perfect winter day

 

Image

Kids, adults, dogs, and a baby all participated in the tobogganing

December 28th: Christmas continued with the in-laws. We had the annual Gingerbread Competition where everyone makes some form of gingerbread house (or van, castle, tree-house, tipi…). Mike ate so much pizza he could barely function. The kids built a snow couch/fort lit with tiki-torches where we enjoyed hot drinks and watched each other barrel down the icy hill on sleds. Alma and I fell asleep in the chair as Mike visited with our friend Alex. Weather: warming up

 

Image

What could be better entertainment than an oversized cardboard box?

December 29th: Mass exodus by the in-laws; everyone left us this morning. Nanny, Mike, Alma, and the dogs napped this afternoon while I looked through the dozens of Christmas photos we took. Mike chopped wood and filled the yurt; we put Alma to bed early, and watched an episode of How I Met Your Mother.  Weather: around zero; ice is melting off the trees

Image

Having a nap in her new Christmas sled

December 30th: Today will be a quiet, nap-filled day for the little one (and probably for me, as well). I will probably make soup and we will watch a Christmas movie of some sort tonight. Weather: cold and blustery 

Image

Reading while Mom washes dishes

December 31st: No More Beard Day! Mike is not only shaving his beard, he is also cutting off all his beautiful hair. In 2014 I will be married to someone who looks much younger than I.

Image

Farewell 2013 beard

Our Very Own Shower!!

Standard

Great improvements have been made to our yurt as of late: a new floor, and a shower to call our own.

After a year of showering at my in-laws’, friends’, and the gym,  I am LOVING having my own shower again. The trick to our shower is to wait until at least 1pm and to turn the shower off while shampooing so that the water is warm the entire time.

Building the shower

Building the shower

Outdoor Shower

Outdoor Shower

The new floor, like the shower, has made my life wonderfully easy. Food thrown on the floor by the wee one is less of an issue now that I can clean it up so quickly.

Good friends made for less work

Good friends made for less work

The old floor

The old floor

All our furniture was outside for a day

All our furniture was outside for a day

The kids enjoying the new floor

The kids enjoying the new floor