Hey Farmgirls, it’s been a while since the last yurt check-in, and you’ve been asking for some updates. As we’re (likely) finishing up our last few months of living in the round, it seems like it’s a perfect time to let you in on some of our yurt life findings…
We have been living in our yurt for almost two years–two years that have been filled with many changes! To name a few: a new member in our family, the attainment of a Master’s degree for me, promotions for Evan, a taming down of our pup Moki (now that she’s approaching the magical three years old!), and many fun DIY projects. At first, it seemed like the task of living in the yurt wouldn’t allow for much more; but as we all know, big life events have a way of squirming their way into all situations. Ava baked away in my warm tummy even as we shivered in the early days of yurt life–it was a cold and rainy fall, the walls of the yurt weren’t properly attached yet, and we didn’t have a reliable heating source until well into October. Lesson one: Sweaters, slippers and blankets are our dear friends!
The cooking situation at first was also a bit tedious–we only had a camp stove! We weren’t supposed to use it inside…but we reasoned that we weren’t really indoors, especially with the walls not properly attached. We didn’t even have a proper table, we had some storage bins stacked up with a big hunk of plywood on top. I guess you could say we were roughing it, but we were still living in a much better situation than millions (probably billions) of people. Within the first few months we acquired what would become our kitchen– some small cupboards, a counter top, a really nice toaster oven, a “professional” (I think that’s a stretch) hot plate and a full sized fridge/freezer. We have made some really great meals with this combo–I even made creme brûlée the other day! This minimal set up allows for fantastic meals, we’ve entertained in the yurt, we’ve had holidays in the yurt and we’ve processed enough food for dry and frozen storage to keep us happy in the winter.
One of the most notable things I’ve learned about our yurt life is that everything is out in the open for others to see–we don’t have any closed off areas to hide our stuff in! We have too much “stuff” even though we’ve tried to pare it down a bit. The “bedrooms” leak into the living room which leaks into the kitchen which leaks into everything because it’s a kitchen and we have a toddler who loves to rearrange anything she can reach. Storage areas become any area that isn’t optimally used for anything else–The area behind the sink, the area in the loft where the ceiling is too low for anything else, between the couch and the book shelf, etc. We also have our designated storage space in the entry way, but again, that is open for all to see our (my) organization deficiencies.
I’ve mostly come to accept that this is all just fine. The dichotomy of living a fairly modern consumer lifestyle in a traditional structure has nuances that often allude me–but I know there is something there. We are trying to live off grid, but we don’t fully embody the off grid lifestyle. We have computers and techie gadgets, we have too many clothes, Ava has quite a few toys, we have stacks of dishes and kitchen appliances that are totally necessary (like a Vitamix). We aren’t the family that monitors our energy and water consumption, we aren’t the people who wash our clothes by hand, we aren’t the family who bathes by sitting in the sauna and then rinse with ladles of water. We succumb to the normative pressures of modern society because we like to think we are integral parts of it. We can be stinky, but not too stinky!
Sometimes I think about people living in little one room cabins with their six kids and wonder how in the heck they did it. And then I think–Oh yeah, it was okay to only bathe monthly. Dad wasn’t working for a multinational company in a shiny store and CPS wouldn’t come if the kids wore the same clothes for weeks. There probably wasn’t a rug to collect dog hair (or a dog that lived indoors), and since the same pot was used for every meal it didn’t have time to sit around and get crusty. Above all else, life was far from easy for them, and most were living in terrible poverty. Luckily, life is easy enough for us and crippling poverty isn’t an issue. I get self conscious about either the lack of neatness in the yurt or our lack of simplicity once in a while, depending on who is visiting, but I’ve gotten a lot better at reminding myself that this is our life and we can do pretty much whatever we want! This reminds me of my mother who has a tendency to leave cupboard doors open after using them (it is commonplace that almost every door will be left open!). My dad used to tell visitors, “and today we are displaying the inside of our cupboards!” I guess, psychologically, this phenomenon is linked with people who feel they have nothing to hide. I think I got some of that.
We are often asked if we would change anything about our yurt set up…and I always have a hard time answering that. I can’t think of anything that really doesn’t work. I love that we have a loft so that our bedroom seems like a different space, similarly it is nice to have the main storage area under the loft so it also feels a bit separate. If we had more money we would change a lot of things! Running water! a real bathrooom! solar panels! A second bedroom yurt! a deck/porch! But, with what we have and can afford, I think it’s pretty sweet. I also think we would do some things differently if we knew we would be living here longer. We would have some more finishing touches–there would be much less bare wood, We probably would have some more enclosed spaces for storage and more permanent structures in the kitchen area. We would probably get a real couch instead of the college-era futon, and we might even consider a loft extension for more sleeping space for children. However, for our temporary abode, it all feels pretty good. It’s been feeling a lot better since I know our time is running short, too.
There you go friends! Do you have any questions about yurt life?! I’d be happy to answer any and all questions, send them my way!
I hope summer is treating you all wonderfully.
Sending peace and love from Alaska,
Alex, the Rural Farmgirl.