Biggest challenges to living off-grid in a Groovy Yurt

stockpile of wood for future construction

This is the 2nd instalment of our customer experience blog series written by Beige, who lives full time, off-grid in a Groovy Yurt. 

 

When I decided to buy a Groovy Yurt 5 years ago, I was a novice homesteader in every sense of the word.

I had never built anything, started a generator, heated with wood or used power tools. I quickly learned that homesteading was a lot more complicated than lighting fires in a woodstove and carrying in jugs of drinking water.

I learned that every decision I make has a ripple effect, either working for or against my well-being and enjoyment in this way of life.

Temperature

chimneyI have learned that my ability to stay warm started with the woodstove I decided to buy.

It then extended into the quantity and quality of the wood I acquired, how I stored it and how available I was to feed the woodstove.

Staying warm has been one of my most significant challenges while living in my Groovy Yurt.

During my first winter, I struggled with 2 different woodstoves that simply were not suitable for primary heat sources. The first one I had was a portable, ultra-light wood stove intended to heat a wall tent. Since the metal was very thin, it did not have the ability to hold heat and needed to be fed very frequently to keep the yurt at a comfortable temperature.

Then, in mid-December, I bought a potbelly cast iron stove. The trouble with the second stove was that none of the seams were sealed, so even though it had a damper, I could not really reduce the amount of air going into it.

I tried my best to seal the seams with heat-proof cement and epoxy, but the fixes were sub-optimal and temporary. This made it impossible to leave a bed of coals burning through the night or when I left the yurt.

Needless to say, it was very challenging to maintain a livable temperature my first winter.

Although some of my challenges with my wood stoves stemmed from setting up in a hurry, the main cause of this challenge was my hesitation to invest in a good wood stove in the first place. Had I been willing to invest in a quality product from the start, I would have saved myself a lot of suffering, hassle and effort.

Some projects are worth salvaging materials or skimping on; a wood stove is not one of them!

Since that time, I have purchased a much better wood stove and re-built my original woodshed; these upgrades have made a huge difference in my quality of life.

Moisture

tapestryIn all of my years of living in my Groovy Yurt, I never have figured out how to keep moisture out.

I had problems with the bottom of the fabric walls retaining moisture when I had my first platform because it was too large and the water pooled in some areas. Since then, I built a better platform that is just the right size, but the water still seems to be retained on the bottom of the yurt’s fabric.

Further, when there is significant rainfall, I end up with puddles on the floor in certain areas around the edges of the yurt. I can’t understand how the water is getting in, especially to the extent that it does. It’s not a huge deal for me, as I usually just dry up the puddles with a towel.

That said, this would be a problem if the water pooled in an area where there were items that could be damaged by water. My main concern with this is that having moisture on the walls’ fabric regularly will likely degrade the fabric over time.

During damp or wet days, I always light a fire in the woodstove to dry things out and have installed a bay window, which helps increase airflow to reduce stagnated moisture.

Bloodthirsty insectshole in yurt

My yurt’s location is surrounded by cedar forests on all sides and by wetlands on two sides. In the peak of bug season, I feel like there are millions of them buzzing around my yurt, bouncing off of the walls to try to find a little hole to fit through, and when they find one, they call in the rest of the troops.

This may be a bit of an exaggeration, but they indeed can and will discover tiny holes to enter the yurt through.

Despite my best efforts, there are small openings where the door and window meet the Brezent (outer canvas cover). Once they are inside, they seem to hide on the walls and emerge after the lights are out, making it difficult to sleep in the summertime.

A couple of solutions are to either put a bug net around the bed (but you can still hear them trying to find their way inside) or take 15 minutes before bed to find and squish all of the hiding mosquitos.

Lack of natural light

When purchasing a Groovy Yurt, the only windows included are thesmall openings of the Toono (center circle).

yurt screen windowThese openings do let some light in, but they are quite small and mainly let sunlight in during the times when the sun is high in the sky. As such, I have found that my yurt feels rather cave-like, especially in the winter when the light is already minimal.

If it’s getting dark in the yurt and I step outside, I always think to myself, “Oh, it’s still daytime out here!”. If you plan to be spending time inside your yurt during the daytime, best to be prepared for the lack of natural light the original design offers.

A couple of years ago, I invested in a bay window; a total game-changer in terms of the amount of light coming into the yurt!

I installed my window facing east because I love to wake up with the sun, and I could orient the window so it was the opposite of the door. This allows lots of beautiful morning light to pour in, and when I open my bay window, I have a nice cross breeze flowing through the yurt.

Although many of the challenges I listed are regarding things out of my control, I could have made many decisions differently to alleviate difficulty.

 

The most significant challenges I have faced have been from single-handedly building a homestead from the ground up with no experience, mentorship or tools.

Although I have no regrets, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend choosing to jump into homesteading the same way I did.

 

 

Groovy Note: We are always ‘at yurt service’ for advice and recommendations. And we love to hear yurt stories.

Contact us today if you have any questions, comments or anecdotes.