When I was living in Topanga, CA, I became acquainted with the round structure called a yurt, otherwise known as a Mongolian tent. At this time, I was manager of an equine therapy ranch which used a yurt as a classroom.
There were other yurts in my neighborhood. A couple of people I knew lived in them and a therapist friend had one as her office. In the years to follow, when I started my own horse healing business, I was donated a yurt to use at my location in Topanga. When I moved out of the area I left it behind. *For the new place I bought a brand new 24 ft one from Pacific yurts, to live in.
It arrived as a kit on a semi truck. This truly was my dream yurt. I’d customized it to meet my aesthetic and practical needs. The wall was a beautiful teal color with four windows, two doors, a panel and an additional foot in height. Having more vertical room allows for the opportunity of building a loft.
The yurt doesn’t come with a floor. There are several ways of making this depending on your budget and how you want it to look. For the foundation I contracted out the work and paid for it with my savings. I bought the materials brand new and had them delivered on site. I was happy with the sturdiness of the floor and the deck which stretched out in front of the french doors. Lesson learned, never invest most of your savings into building your home on someone else's property.
Fast forward two years when I realized my business was not going to survive at this location partly due to huge overheads. With eight horses who I'd adopted and was committed too, I wasn’t ready for my business to collapse.
With the remainder of my savings, I made a down payment on ten acres of land about thirty miles away and relocated my eight horses, horse coral, tack shed and my yurt. I even brought the foundation along ... in pieces.
Moving was no easy task but with the help of my boyfriend Nicio, and volunteers, we managed to successfully move the horses and all my stuff to the new place. We put the yurt in a storage container for ten months until we were ready to resurrect it.
My new place had a well but no electricity. I was determined to make it work. The land was undeveloped, with no concrete, which I liked. But, I had never gone long without electrical power and it was a whole new learning process for me to understand and organize power in my everyday life and business.
I was fortunate to know of a family business who supplied wifi from their satellite on Palomar mountain. With their help, I was able to install a solar wifi, which works like a charm. With internet access I'm able to work from home.
One of the reasons I love my property is that it has an interesting landscape which stretches up to a mountain side. There are several levels to the property, all with their unique environmental experiences. I camped out in each location so I could choose the best place to set up the yurt.
Something to think about if contemplating living in a yurt, the walls are thin, and as much as one can be heard, one can hear all the surrounding sounds. One of my home comforts is being in a quiet environment. I appreciate the sounds in nature; the call of the ravens, the howl of the coyotes and the chirping chipmunks.
After taking a long time to find the perfect place for my yurt I decided to place it at ground level allowing easy access. Here, the yurt would be partially protected by a hill side and in ear and eye shot of the horses.
At around this time my savings were depleted and I had to rely on the resourcefulness of my boyfriend in order to get a foundation and floor set in place for the yurt.
Nicio, was able to find discarded electrical poles. These made excellent posts for the foundation which he cut to size. We decided to use the foundation plan offered by Pacific yurts which requires 4 ft space between uprights and suggests thick tongue and groove panels.
Nicio has a couple of friends with more construction experience. They helped him position the foundation posts as I had requested it be built on uneven terrain with a five foot difference on each end. He used a waterproof finish to protect and highlight the floor.
When the platform was finished it looked beautiful and was quite sturdy. We were now ready to get the yurt out of storage and reassemble it. You definitely need help to do this, preferably a team of four people and done at a time when it’s not too windy.
The hardest part was putting on the outer roof shell as it’s extremely heavy and you have to feed it through the dome space of the yurt. I had bought the heavy duty shell as it’s guaranteed to last longer but I had not anticipated how difficult it would be to put up. This was no easy task. It requires someone to be on a ladder while carrying the cover over their shoulder. At seventy years old, with everyone pushing on his butt, Nicio managed to do it; we were all very impressed!
The yurt is designed to have a wood stove in it. You have to install the chimney and follow the specifications, to insure it’s not a fire hazard. Having a wood stove in the yurt creates a comfy and homey environment.
Nicio is teaching me how to split wood which is fun. He would never think about buying wood when there is plenty of dead trees around where we live. This is a win win situation as it helps reduce the risk of fire by utilizing and burning this wood.
The ashes don't go to waste. I use them as part of my compost mix for the outhouse. They absorb odour well and contribute to the process of composting.
The final process in finishing the yurt, yet to be done, is a deck which will wrap around the edge of the yurt. It’s a good idea to have easy access to the windows, as when the weather changes, you will need to put on and take off the plastic window screens as well as zipping down the window covers when it rains.
I consider my yurt my palace. I prefer it to a square or oblong house which a lot of times can be harboring mould and negative energies from people who’ve inhabited the house prior. With no corners for anything to hide, the yurt allows the energy inside to flow.
I find the high ceiling and circular space relaxing and after a hard days work it helps me to decompress.
My recent discovery and powerful addition to the yurt has been nature’s solar generator which provides free electricity for lighting, music, ambience and charging up my laptop and other devices. This generator was a great investment. I love that it’s quiet, doesn’t require any gas, is easy to use and affordable. This video and blog was created with free electricity!
I hope this is helpful to anyone who is considering living in a yurt off grid.
* Please use my name as a referral if you decide to buy a Pacific yurt, thanks!