Who’s ready for a vacation? Me too. While I can’t literally whisk you away to a beautiful paradise, I can give you a peek at one!
My friends Erin and Mike from Blue Yurt Farms live in beautiful Southern Virginia. I asked them some questions about yurt life, and they sent fantastic pictures of their homestead. Enjoy this virtual vacation!
What’s a yurt? How big is it?
A yurt is the modern adaptation of the traditional Mongolian ger. It’s a round, fabric walled structure (that looks like a cupcake from Google maps!) with a plexiglass dome on top. The walls are supported on the inside with a 7 ft tall wooden lattice that extends all the way around, from top to bottom and it’s topped off with exposed wooden rafters that connect to the lattice and the plexiglass dome.
That lattice and wooden rafter engineering makes it extremely durable. I’ve even read about huge redwood trees falling on a yurt, with no structural damage, just a few rips on the roof. Same goes for stories of Alaskan grizzly bears trying to get into remote yurts!
Yurts come in a variety of sizes, but since we’re living in ours full time, we chose the 30 ft diameter yurt. That equals about 720 sq ft, which is actually more spacious than some of the NYC apartments we used to live in, pre-homestead life!
Is it made of cloth? Do you get wet when it rains?
Modern yurts use a durable cloth that is waterproof and usually treated with flame retardants and mold inhibitors. Since we live on a mountain, our winters get more than a little cold…so we also opted for the insulated walls and roof package! That was money well spent, for sure.
So we don’t get wet when it rains, and it keeps us warm in the winter and cool in the summer!
Do you have electricity? Running water?
Yep. Some people chose to live off grid in a yurt since they are easy to build in remote areas, whereas you’d have issues with a standard home. We, however, chose a yurt because we love the “feeling” of it and we didn’t want a mortgage!
So our yurt is fully equipped with a great kitchen, running water, electricity and a real floor. We even have a nice big bathroom that has room for full sized washer/dryer, a chest freezer, large shower and sink/toilet. Some of the yurts we toured used shelves or other temporary structures to block off their bathroom….we chose real walls and a door.
We’re civilized like that. 🙂 We also operate our web design business from the yurt, with high speed internet, and it’s hilarious to work with a new client via video Skype calls! They’re always so curious about the yurt, and chickens, and other little farm-isms.
And after working on my laptop from the couch, I have a new workstation! Building a wrapped desk on a circle was certainly an interesting challenge.
Why did you choose a yurt?
When my husband and I first moved down to Southwest Virginia (from an urban life in NJ), we looked at numerous 100 year old farm houses, and even a few double wides. Hey, some of them can be nice!
But every time, we’d find ourselves wanting to knock down walls and make massive improvements to the homes. Added to that, since we own our own business, the mortgage people were less than friendly. Their impossible logic was enough to drive us to “outside of the box” thinking. And whattya know, there was a yurt company in our tiny little town.
We set up a yurt tour, and that was it! We fell in love. Granted…our family was less than enthusiastic about our decision. I received a LENGTHY intervention email from my Dad, and my husband’s family said something along the lines of “We admire your adventurous spirit, but are you SURE this is a good idea?!”
They have all come around to loving our yurt, and my Mom even said that she missed it when she went back to her “square house” after a lengthy homestead visit. It’s hard to resist the yurt charm!
Yurts are relatively cheap, so we were able to put a down payment on one (they are custom built per order, so you get to choose color, etc) and then get a few small family loans to finish the rest of the work. No mortgage, people, it’s NICE!
What animals do you have? Do they have a yurt too?
Haha, well, our animals don’t have a yurt. Except for our dogs and cats that is!
One of the reasons we moved down to such a rural area was a desire to homestead. We wanted to raise our own pastured animals, and have a little peace and quiet to call our own. And with 22 acres, surrounded by pasture and hay fields, we certainly have that!
Our homestead life has been a dream, with the exception of a few bumps and scratches along the way (don’t even ASK about dairy goats, yeesh). Right now we have several pigs rooting around in our woods that are destined to be bacon, a few honking guard geese for our chickens, and a large flock of happily clucking egg laying hens!
We also have four rescue cats, and two dogs that keep us company in the yurt. Next year, the plan is to add a few sheep, maybe a rescue llama to guard the sheep and I hope, I hope…a dairy cow!!
Want to know more?
Thanks, Erin and Mike, for a peek at yurt life! I’m thinking an actual yurt vacation is in our future…