Living in the Round: Getting Better All the Time

I think we’ve done it. We’ve surpassed that hump of “are we completely insane?” and “I wish we had never done this.” It is a good feeling. This progress into being a pseudo home-owner has progressed much like any good Shakespearean dramatic plot structure. We began with the feeling of “a yurt would be super cool.” We progressed to late yurt arrival, into constant rain, into being broke and annoyed, into being nearly smoked out of our new home. The rising action was nearly unbearable until…until we reached the climax of getting our chimney and rain cap checked out. I was about ready to throw in the towel, to be honest. I was about ready to move into some boring apartment with stained carpet, a funny smelling fridge and a postage stamp sized dog yard.

Now, we have tentatively entered the denouement. The possibility of yurt life for this coming winter doesn’t seem so unlikely or doubtful. It’s getting better all the time…

A finished wall for the loft, a nicely stacked pile of wood and a woodpile that warms rather than smokes make this Farmgirl a happy camper.

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  1. Love all the pics and blow-by-blow updates. Thanks for the vicarious thrill!

  2. Jan says:

    Fantastic job! Something popped into my mind when I saw Evan (the master/cutter/builder)and the lumber: "Measure twice and cut once!". Just a handy tip for the day!
    The wonderful food must be agreeing with you. You are truly glowing…Makes me want to knock on your door for a snack! Yesterday I made a green sauce out of tomatillos. My house smells like green sauce…
    You will look back on this time of life and tell stories to your children…

  3. Joan says:

    WOW y’all are coming right along and looking good!!! Thanks for the update and pic’s. God Bless

  4. Ashley says:

    This is awesome! I love all the pictures you post with your blog- it really gives a clear idea of what’s going on for us urbanites. Thanks!

  5. Gaill Pederson says:

    My lovely Alex, We are so happy that things are finally coming together. I do not know if you have heard this story…We started building our house shortly after Evan was born. His first favorite toy? A plastic hammer rattle. His first words? Not Dada or Mama……"Pound, pound, pound"! The intuitive building skills have been there forever.
    Love, Mom and Dad Pederson

  6. Diann says:

    Youth and all that hard work is a "wondermus" thing….lol.
    Y’all are doing a great job. Blessings in all of your endeavors!

  7. Karen says:

    My entire married life (41 years) seems to have been spent in construction – we fixed up 2 old houses, built a cabin here on our land, built a house – it burned down and we intend to build another one…meanwhile, we are adding a room to the tin can we are living in which is way too small…we’ve built out buildings, and whatever else – my husband is the King of Shelving by now! But we’ve never lived in a yurt! Sounds like fun!

  8. Suzanne says:

    This is really cool to see! So glad it’s finally habitable and to get an update. Who new you could make natural stain by dissolving steel wool in vinegar. Amazing! Take Care!~

  9. Joy Pascarella says:

    So glad the stove is fixed and working properly. What a difference! last entry was a little depressing but it goes to show you that things can change and turn around if you hang in there. Husbands are wonderful too! They seem to make a lot of things all go in the right direction. P.S. The black creosote is just awful to clean up. We go though it once a year! Yuk! Keep the progress coming! Love it!

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Suspended Animation

Many of you have been asking in the past several weeks for updates on the yurt and yurt life. However, there hasn’t much to update you about!  Living in the yurt is still very much like glorified camping. The interior hasn’t changed too much, and I’m still too embarrassed by all of the stuff spilling out of boxes to post real pictures of the interior.  I have been living in a kind of suspended animation since the end of September for several reasons. Nonetheless, I can give you a small idea of what living in the yurt has been like.

Our yurt exterior. We are in a beautifully wooded area, the neighbors are fairly close, but it’s okay for now!

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  1. Theresa says:

    Check out for information on rocket stoves that are easy to build, can use way less fuel, store and release heat over a long period of time, releases far fewer greenhouse gasses, can double as furniture and will be far safer then a conventional stove for your little one to be around, also it does not have to occupy the center of your yurt. In all it can save you a lot of future work. Paul Wheaton is the guy with info. I know you’ve invested a lot of work and $$ in what you’ve done with your conventional stove. Check this out though and see if this choice could help. Good luck to you and your family.
    Theresa Z.

  2. Joan says:

    Alex, this sounds like you are a pioneering woman, a girl after my own heart, in my younger days. But I am sure the two of you will make it really nice, just some glitches along the way. When I had a cabin and a pellet/wood stove, I always had a big ole tea kettle on top – not only did it give nice humidity but the hot water was great to use for ‘hospital’ baths, washing dishes, just the thought of having hot water. I also kept a pot of cinnamon sticks in water to make the cabin smell good – it was an OLD cabin. I will keep you and your situation in my prayers and you keep the faith and chin held high. Special thoughts – God Bless.

  3. Judi Buller says:

    Hello Alex,

    I came to your blog through MaryJanesFarm newsletter, and thought I’d respond to your question about heating with a woodstove. We live in a 104-year-old farmhouse (built from a 1908 Sears catalog kit!) in Olympia, WA, and as far as I know, it has only been heated by coal or wood all these years. We bought our current woodstove twenty-eight years ago, and it’s our only permanent heat source, still works great. About twenty years ago we refinanced, and were required to install baseboard heaters, but when the inspections were done, we removed them – they were actually more of a fire hazard than the stove! Anyway, we also have issues with wet wood, so we have a rotating system: outside wood stack, then into the woodshed, then a small stack near the back door and a stack around the stove. My husband works in construction, so we get lots and lots of kiln-dried scraps, which get the fire going quickly and hot, and actually dries out wood that’s still a bit damp – but only put one or two pieces on at a time, damp wood can kill the fire!

    Light woods, such as fir and alder, dry out faster, and are good for getting the fire going well, and heavy woods, such as cedar and apple, work best added later, and last much longer. During the months we use the woodstove, I just make it part of my routine to check the fire every so often.

    Heating with wood is messy, so there’s more cleaning to do, but the to-the-bones warmth is so worth it! People love coming to our house, especially when the power goes out, because we stay toasty warm, and we can still cook! I raised four children here, not one of them had any injuries related to using the woodstove.

    We do have electric space heaters for occasional use in a couple of rooms that are a distance from the stove, such as the bathroom, also for those times when we need heat but aren’t available to stoke the fire, and for the ‘transition’ times of early fall and late spring, when a fire is just too much, but we need to take the chill out in the morning and evening.

    Once we put insulation into the walls and had storm windows made, we found that it was unnecessary to stoke the fire during the night – banking it well and clamping down the baffle keep it going low all night, with a good bed of coals ready to go in the morning.

    I’ve even come to enjoy clomping out to the woodshed to get a wheelbarrow load of wood to stack around the stove and near the door. Then I curl up on the couch next to the fire, with a cup of tea, and I’m in heaven. 🙂

  4. Meredith says:

    Hi Alex! Girl, if I were living in your yurt right now, the Jack Daniels WOULD be for me! Hee Hee! I think your yurt is really neat–would love to see it when you get it organized the way you want. My experience with woodstoves goes like ths- they are warm and toasty but the require a bunch of work. We have an indoor one we use when the power goes out, and it is a bit small. It needs fresh wood every three hours or so, which means getting up in the middle of the night, going downstairs and refilling it. I am grateful it is only used for power outages and for days like today when it is colder than normal and we just want a few hours of warmth in the evening. Thea big daddy stove lives outside and it is a relic. It is also a bit small for the size of our house, and because of its advanced age, needs wood more often than I would like, but at least will get us through most winter nights if we fill it late in the evening before bed. It will need replacing before long but the new ones are PRICEY! We wind up burning green wood too from time to time in the outdoor stove. It burns too fast, but is better than nothing.
    I guess I haven’t really given you any useful advice, but can empathize with your situation! Good luck in the coming weeks and stay warm……

  5. Deborah says:

    Hello Alex and Evan,

    I absolutely love reading your blog!and the building of the yurt is amazing. Have you ever seen the movie, "The Tail Of The Yellow Dog"? It is a beautiful movie about living the nomadic life in Mongolia and they live in a yurt. The movie itself is beautifully photographed and the chidren in the movie are absolutely adorable as well. So is the simple life they live and what the children in the movie get to experience. I wish for our children that they could even just for a moment put down all the electronics and just be…children. Even though you are going through some hardships now, you will reflect back on this time as very special and like most things in life, only come around once. To be young, positive, and living off the "grid" somewhat is all a fantastic part of your life! and with a new baby coming. How exciting! Take one day at a time and enjoy all that comes your way. You are doing a great job.



  6. Betty J. says:

    I had a Blaze King Princess just like that one you pictured. It was in my 1000 sq ft home. Didn’t take much wood or heat to make you run and open the doors in the dead of winter. It was also lined with some sort of ceramic. I have since had it removed because my house is so small and it took up a lot of living room space.

  7. Myra Jean says:

    I am shocked that you do not have a wood stove that has a water tank to heat your tea & dishwashing water etc…
    Also the heated water tank provides warmth for the room.
    Seen Rick on Rick’s Restorations using the Steelwool & Vinegar application – I can’t wait to try it out.
    Good Luck

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