We have had freezing temperatures in our valley over the last week and we have been asked every day what it is like living in a yurt in the depths of winter. I guess it is easier for people to get their heads around living in a yurt in the summer – it’s basically camping, right, and we all love camping?! But when there is frost on the ground?!
Well, it is beautiful.
We have had a few major improvements around here that have made living in a yurt almost like living in a proper house. We feel so flash. All the mod cons. (Not quite all.)
Here is living in a yurt – winter edition:
I have seen photos of people living in a yurt – yurts the same brand as ours – in thick, metres deep snow. We don’t have snow, just MORE RAIN THAN YOU HAVE EVER SEEN.
Oh my golly. It rains here. Any rain going, it is here. Some days will be really sunny, and then at about 4pm a big grey cloud will just pass over and dump rain over us and then move on. As if the weather got a little notification *ping* you haven’t rained over Waitawheta yet.
It’s good for growing stuff, I guess. And the ducks are truly living their best lives. Way better than having no rain aye? You gotta look for positives.
Meanwhile we have to park at the bottom of the paddock cos the mud stops us going any further and trudge up to our place carrying the groceries, the lunch boxes, Ramona’s teddies and Juno’s skateboard and the big bag of stuff from the junk shop including a purple wig and a sombrero (the girls longing for a better day). Both Ramona and Juno have actually got stuck in the mud. And the other week we were exploring the bush and I leapt over a stream thinking to land in the mud on the otherside, it would be okay cos I was wearing wellies, but I SUNK TO MY THIGHS.
When it rains heavily in the yurt it is loud. Sometimes hard to have a conversation. It is probably the one downside to yurt living.
Over the last week it has reached freezing levels, which I haven’t really experienced in other parts of NZ that I’ve lived in. And it has been SO beautiful. Eyewateringly beautiful. Clear blue skies, mist covering the far paddocks, icey forest everywhere else. The girls careen out of bed into their warrm things and go around the farm collecting all the ice they can find into a jar, then they come back to the fire and through it on the top to see it explode into tiny balls. They can not get enough of that ice/fire combo.
So yeah, did you notice that? We have a fire! Took forever to get sorted but it has been a gamechanger. We sit around with stew on the top and jacket potatos in the oven bit feeling very pleased with ourselves. The fire also makes hot water, through a wetback system, so we can also have baths!!!! Sometimes the kids are in the bath for about 2.5 hours. I don’t think I will ever take hot water for granted again in my life.
We had about 1.5 months of winter living in a yurt and it was seriously sucky. Damp and cold. I felt like we were going to get really sick. The fire changed everything.
We did a mini-extreme makeover in order to plan the whole yurt interior around us sitting in front of the fire. Moved about the kitchen, put chairs in front. Such a winner. This is our winter yurt configuration. (See our summer yurt house here.)
IS IT WARM INSIDE THE YURT?
It is warm enough. We can get it really really toasty when we have the fire cranking, like strip off and play Dragon Fighters in the nick sort of toasty (the kids.) The yurt came with insulation developed by Nasa (basically the worlds biggest silver foil emergency blanket) and it works pretty well. We bank the fire at night and it is still going in the morning, but the temperature dips overnight to being cold. We really have to snuggle under the duvets and stay there until the yurt warms up again at 10am. (Just kidding, it warms up before that, I just like any excuse for lying in bed.)
HOUSTON WE HAVE WIFI
Yeah, woah. Can you believe it? The Vodafone technician came to our farm a few months ago and declared there was no way we could get online, ever. No options sorry. This valley destined to be wifi-less. It’s possible I had a little cry that day. I certainly went ahead and wrote a blogpost about it, one about broken dreams. Lol. So we had pretty much given up on the whole thing. I zip into town a few days a week to work at the library. We Skype my family once a year etc. And then our buddies told us about Vodafone’s Rural Broadband Wifi Box. It’s a box that gets you wifi and you can take it anywhere. So they bought theirs when they were visiting and oh yeah, check it out! Internet in the yurt! So we got our grubby hands on our own box. Pfft. Vodafone. Not even knowing how great your own product is. Moral of the story – don’t believe anyone ever about anything.
Right now Ramona and the neighbours are watching a flick, Juno is doing yoga with the ipad and I am just doing my blog thing. It’s like 2012 around here! We literally haven’t had internet at home for three years. And I am loving it. It will be interesting to see how it pans out – whether I will find it hard to be as present as I have been lately. Over the last few months, once I’ve come home from the library I am home, in body and mind. I wonder if I will feel the negatives of being able to get online so quickly, when so much of my work is online.
Certainly it isn’t exactly easy – we have to prop the box on a crate outside the window and put a Dora Dora the Explorer brolly over it to protect it from the elements. And it just goes on for small portions of the day, and only if the sun is shining….
Despite buying new batteries for our solar system we still don’t have enough battery power to get us happily through a drizzly day. So at the moment we still have large periods where everything in the yurt, including fridge, has to go off. Over the coming weeks we are going to be trialling a hydropower set up in the stream that runs between our two homes. If we can pull that off that will be IMMENSE! We will have all you can eat electricity. I will be blogging my head off.
LEARN AND PLAY
With the weather being as wet as it has been it has been a bit harder to be self contained on the farm. In the right mood the girls will get naked and dance on the deck with the rain pouring down, or we will rug up and play in the dripping forest.
Or we will build awesome dens inside the yurt and have elaborate teddy bear picnics. But there have been lots of inside, going crazy days. I have realised that there is less of this crazymaking insideness in the city – there tends to be places where you can go with kids, museums or soft play or something. There is SO little here. Sometimes we drive into town and after we’ve spent 50 minutes in every charity shop, we go to the supermarket cos at least it is dry there. Spurning the yurt and its creature comforts to wander up supermarket aisles and challenge the girls to find prunes.
So we investigated stuff going on in the big town an hour’s drive away and there are loads of fun unschooling things. We have added in some of their indoorsy stuff to our calendar, we drive down for musical theatre and yoga and plan to go to this jumping thing.
Next week we have our first Outdoor Play in Nature and Learn Things happening, with the hopes it might one day be a fully fledged forest school. So, so excited about that.
Yep, living in a yurt in the winter is definitely do-able. Especially if you have a fire, wifi, and a town within driveable distance with more than a supermarket. Hehe. It has it’s fair share of ups and down, (anothe rpost about wining and loosing at yurt life here) and despite having mod cons, still a bit of teeth gritting.
If you’ve missed our living in a yurt journey so far click through to see our journey of the last 6 months:
- One month of yurt living was basically like a super long, awesome camping holiday.
- Two months of yurt living – we were still buzzing as we got beehives and more animals!
- Gradually, we began to realise that yurt life, like all of life, is a mixed bag. Hehe.
- By the 6 month update of our off the grid living we had realised that while we COULD have a robotic vacuum cleaner we weren’t going to get the internet and we were a bit bummed.
- Check out our Youtube Channel for our yurt living videos:
Keep tuned for the next installment! In the mean time, if you want to help your family fall in love with nature please check out my latest ebook, 30 Days of Rewilding (Amazon) or through my e-store here. “A manifesto for a life lived in nature” – The Telegraph. (You don’t have to be living in a yurt in NZ to like it!)