The global pandemic has certainly impacted our business.
On a positive note, it seems to have pushed more people to consider alternative housing options to escape city living.
This includes Mongolian yurts, as we have seen an increasing number of people opting for the traditional dwellings to reconnect with themselves and nature; either full-time or part-time. This is not only beneficial for their well-being, but also conserves energy, and overall resources, when compared to a more traditional North American home (or mansion).
The Logistical Challenges Many of Us Face
Current events have also left us facing many additional challenges.
Shipping containers are taking almost double the time compared to last year, tariffs have increased considerably and there has been a drastic reduction in ship availabilities on the transpacific route.
Most noteworthy of the challenges is the (often crazy) increase of prices, especially for lumber, both in North America and Mongolia. Although frustrating, this teaches us a valuable lesson on the importance of earth’s precious and increasingly scarce resources.
Restoration of biodiversity should become an absolute priority (and it should have been made a priority a long time ago).
The COVID-19 Pandemic in Mongolia
In Mongolia they have just started their fourth two-week COVID lockdown since January.
Getting supplies (lattice walls, felts, etc.) from the countryside has become quite the ordeal as quarantine laws are different from area to the next.
Bataa’s family, as well as our other suppliers, have recently transitioned from a standard 8-hour workday (5 days per week) to working around the clock between lockdowns.
In one instance, they were not able to get the usual khanaa (walls) from the Huvsgul province north of the country. To prevent further delays, they had to start making walls themselves overnight.
The final product is different, but clearly of good quality. Bataa and his family saves the day, yet again!
Groovy Yurts & the Road Ahead
At Groovy Yurts, we’ve traded in our yurt trucker hats for yurt logistician ones.
However, we still have high hopes to get on the road in May, June, and July for the largest of our yurt delivery tours.
Plans are being revised weekly (and in some cases daily), causing us to change the title of our tours from ‘Nomad Delivery Tours’ to ‘Mad Delivery tours.’ Rest assured, we will keep our customers informed of all developments via email, phone, social media and website blog updates.
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.
I 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.
In 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.
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).
These 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.
https://groovyyurts.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Beige-Blog-18.jpg24483264The Groovy Yurts Teamhttp://groovyyurts.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/groovy-yurts.pngThe Groovy Yurts Team2021-04-25 06:00:142021-05-14 15:44:33Biggest challenges to living off-grid in a Groovy Yurt
Many of you already know this: Our yurts travel a long distance to get to us.
At some points, the yurt parts are even carried on the back of an animal!
Their journey (to the capital city, where our yurts are finished, and then by rail through the Gobi Desert to Tianjin, China, then by boat across the Pacific, and onto rail again to our yurt farm) takes about 3 months.
This involves significant travel logistics; however, we always try to source as many parts as possible from the Mongolian countryside. It’s the heart and soul of our company.
How COVID-19 Is Impacting Our Production & Logistics Timelines
Recently, the cards were mixed again due to the fun (and forever interesting) pandemic. Mongolia reacted extremely well when the infectious disease began in China. It did so thanks to a very strict lockdown.
The second wave brought more cases… and stricter lockdowns. Lately, it seems that the whole country goes into quarantine every 3 weeks for the duration of 2 weeks! This leaves a short window of time to finish our yurts.
Furthermore, the district where our yurts are completed has been locked down by police force. The truck coming from the North of the country with our handmade lattice walls has been stopped outside of the city, forcing Bataa’s people to head out of town with smaller vehicles to collect the precious load.
Wood cutting has been compromised for the season creating a lack of supplies. The good news in all this: dramatic price increases on that end have been minimized by lots of creativity and some financial engineering.
Aside from Mongolian logistics, another factor creating delays is the reduction of ships crossing the Pacific. For us, this phenomenon means more delays.
Overall production time and transit increases the lead time for our yurts by about 2 months.
The situation is mostly out of our control; however, we are doing our best to put logistics into place so you can get your long-awaited yurts! We are so appreciative of your understanding.
Should you have any questions or concerns about a yurt that you have ordered or are planning to order, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Humidity in cold regions is the largest challenge to overcome for permanent dwellers, especially when living in a yurt.
Over the last few years, the number of people opting to reside in their yurts has increased and now represents about 40% of our clients!
In this edition of the Groovy Yurts blog, we’ll discuss how humidity affects a yurt, and how yurts are built with protective elements to combat humidity.
Layer of House Wrap Between Yurt Canvas & Insulation
Because the cotton-based outer canvas of a yurt is water resistant and not waterproof, we add a layer of house wrap between the felt insulation and the canvas.
The house wrap acts as an additional barrier to block any humidity that manages to get past the canvas, while still allowing the yurt to breathe. This dynamic created by the outer layers it what makes the yurt so efficient, comfortable… and healthy (in a way). However, it should be noted that the house wrap is a compromise and does reduce the breathability.
This solution sometimes reaches its limit in the freezing temperatures of winter, when the humid air inside the yurt runs through the felt, hits the cold layer of wrap and freezes, disabling the wrap’s breathability.
If too much condensation accumulates in the felt, it may drip down the yurt or leave humidity stains in the inner liner.
The same process can occur in above freezing temperatures when humidity builds within the yurt and is quickly followed by rainfall. This causes the yurt’s roof to cool much faster than the air does. In this situation, yurt dwellers are often confused and think that rainwater is coming through the roof.
The best strategy to continuously monitor humidity production and ventilate when cooking or producing extra vapour (ex. using propane).
Heating with a wood stove to dry the yurt inside (keeping an opening in the toono) is another options when the yurt was left unattended for a while or if water had found its way in.
A Better Wrap for Yurts to Control Humidity
But what if there was a better wrap?
Over the years, we’ve tried a few different brands.
In the beginning, we were using Novawrap Aspire, however, due to the fragility of the product, quick diminution of quality, and poor response from the company, we made the easy decision to turn back to TYVEK.
We recently began evaluating other wraps and just did a comparative test on a 3-wall (14’ diameter) yurt. To do this, we made a roof wrap out of 4 different brands and installed it on a double layer of felts. Over the next few days, we boiled over 100 litres (over 25 gallons) of water inside the yurt alongside outdoor temperatures of -24C (-11F). We let the yurt cool down occasionally, but always kept it closed and tight.
The simple experiment showed interesting results.
On the bright side, one of the wraps was clearly superior and trapped significantly less frost under its surface. It remained relatively dry. Most of the vapour had escaped, following the path of least resistance, as the felts were mildly moist and showed few water stains in the ceiling. It seemed to prove the necessity for ventilation (vapor will follow the path of least resistance) and allowed us to identify a better option to use as a roof underlayer from now on.
It comes with a price, though: This product is about 3x the price of the TYVEK.
What’s to Come for Yurt Humidity Control in the Future?
We wish to keep the Mongolian ger’s original characteristics, as we have so much respect for this timeless dwelling and want it to remain as simple as possible. However, now that they are used in other climates and have purposes aside from nomadic life, we must understand how the dwellings react to new variables and relay this information to our customers.
The best first precaution: Monitor humidity and ventilate. Humidity stains can be removed by spraying a solution of bleach or vinegar.
The article mainly applies to Authentic Mongolian yurts. Modern yurts experience similar condensation issues, however the process is quite different.
https://groovyyurts.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Humidity-in-Mongolian-Yurts-Photo-5.jpg7681024The Groovy Yurts Teamhttp://groovyyurts.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/groovy-yurts.pngThe Groovy Yurts Team2021-02-20 06:00:492021-03-28 17:29:08How to Control Humidity in Yurts
This is Part Two of a 3-part series on our Maritimes Yurt Delivery Tour
Saturday, December 5th
This morning offered a short meditation session and spectacular views of the Bay of Fundy. I love my yurt trucker life!
The border crossing between New Brunswick and Maine was empty, and the young US officer asked me to show him where to stamp the unusual set of transit papers. Everyone is always super nice here.
Maine is as wild as it is beautiful, even under the rain. Rain that quickly transformed into snow. After a short shower at a truck stop (I did not forget about the parrot’s advice), the ground is completely covered, and the driving conditions quickly deteriorated. However, I couldn’t stop as tomorrow’s customer could only get help for that date.
It was 8pm by the time I finally got close to my destination in Vermont. Luckily, I found an open Scottish restaurant that served a fabulous haggis. It’s now the end of the day and I’ve almost 6 inches of wet snow on the bumper!
Sunday, December 6th
This morning I am woken by a strong wind shaking the truck; not good news when you have to set up a large yurt.
I prayed that the customer’s platform would not be raised above ground. Setting up a Mongolianger is not difficult, especially with some experience, but wind, rain, cold, and height can drastically complicate matters.
The roads in Vermont are very narrow and hilly (with up to 13% slope) to begin with, and I quickly found out that they’re also snowy. Luckily, they did a good job with plowing, but it’s still stressful when driving a near empty tractor trailer.
I managed to park on a side road in the forest – a big thank you to the Groovy truck for being so cooperative!
We began unloading onto a pick-up truck with Bruce, the client’s brother, who had just gotten back from a wild party night and had managed to break his truck’s back window. This first trip revealed our worst fear: the platform they built is a circular eagle’s nest, 8 to 10 feet off the ground… and with no catwalk around the perimeter!
Due to the wind and small team, we ended up staying for 2 days. I guess it’s human nature to be optimistic and believe things will be in order by the time Groovy Yurts comes; or a compliment to our superpowers. My mistake for not having asked a picture of the substructure prior to arrival.
Carl, the owner, built a catwalk, while Julie herded the dogs and helped with folding the massive felt pieces. Bruce on the other hand, went off to snooze after the second and last pick-up load.
We finally got started after poor Carl received a heavy, 7-wall yurt door to the head while he was kneeling to finish his platform rim. Our troubles did not end there. We had just managed to get the entire structure, as well as the roof felts set up when I decided to go help install the wall felts on the catwalk.
My 260lb frame was just a bit too much weight and kRaAaaAak… all 3 of us fly to the ground, 8’ below. Amazingly, nobody is hurt, and while the repairs are being made, we begin installing the house wrap (which of course proves to be a bit too short that day and is difficult to install in the high winds).
The temperature had just dropped to around 0F (-18 C) by the time we finally managed to install the outer cover and circling ropes in the dark and called it a day. I was so grateful that night for an invitation to the pub, as each beer had the distinct taste of a 3rd half-time at rugby. Everyone certainly slept well.
Monday, December 7th
Carl and Julie made it back from upstate New York where they had dropped-off Bruce. We successfully finished the yurt before noon with no wind and plenty of satisfaction.
Afterwards, I drove towards New York state, but not without first sponsoring Vermont DOT with some speeding in the sunshine. I was guilty, but the officer proved to be a gentleman and eased up on the verdict. We crossed the Hudson River and stopped at a Petrol station for the night (and maybe a cheeseburger too).
Tomorrow’s customer insists that breakfast and lunch will be provided, but I politely decline the first meal – it’s just too much (but very thoughtful).
Tuesday, December 8th
While on the road, I missed a turn, which also happened to be a disguised Google Map error that would have forced me to back-up a few miles with the trailer (everything truly happens for a reason)!
Upon arrival, Aaron welcomes me to the Saranac Veterinary Clinic and I park the truck next to a beautifully made substructure. Heaven! However, closer inspection revealed that the substructure is not quite finished (really?!). This ends up being a silver lining as frees up time to get to know our customers/hosts!
This place is a little gem, inhabited by the kindest of people. Hanna and her daughter are both vets and run this clinic. Hanna seems to also be an amazing cook and when I see the breakfast plate come out on the job site, I cannot refuse my own. Without a doubt, this is the best breakfast I’ve had in a long time!
While we set up the future waiting room/office, people continuously pour in to pick-up pets, bring birthday cakes for one of the workers, or even just to say hi. This place exudes good values and kindness. Aaron, the builder, had thought of everything prior to our arrival and not a single detail was forgotten. The entire day was pure pleasure, including the departure feast shared in the clinic before heading home. Thank you for your kindness and warm welcome, your patients and customers are lucky to have you.
We top off the day with more good news: home is only an hour and a half away (customs included). It’s time to get back to a sedentary routine, something that can take a few days to get used to again. Yurt trucking can be tough, but it’s an absolutely groovy lifestyle! Thanks for following along.
Until next time,
https://groovyyurts.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/yurts-1.jpg8041430The Groovy Yurts Teamhttp://groovyyurts.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/groovy-yurts.pngThe Groovy Yurts Team2021-02-08 21:57:062021-02-08 23:01:02Canadian Maritimes Yurt Delivery Tour – Part 3
This is Part Two of a 3-part series on our Maritimes Delivery Tour
Wednesday, December 2nd
It is rare that I stop for breakfast, but a restaurant on a pier on the Atlantic coast is just too good to be true.
Scrambled eggs with lobster was the treat this morning. It certainly helped to cope with the discovery of damaged belly boxes on the trailer during the morning inspection (I had more than likely hugged some hidden rocks when trying to exit last night’s spot in the dark).
Later, the worst downpour of the trip so far had forced the traffic to a halt and is yet another reminder of the extreme weather in this part of Canada.
We did a small drop-off in the red zone, Halifax, before heading to the South Shore area.
At this point, I’m anxious to reach the next customer before dawn as I suspect her place is not quite as accommodating to an 18-wheeler as she might think. Sure enough, there’s no way I can back the trailer in, let alone even park close to the house.
I ended up driving 10 kms around a peninsula to find a spot where I could leave my trailer.
On the bright side, that spot happened to be the Bayport Pub parking, the only open establishment in the area. Before dinner, I managed to install a special structure on the back of the tractor unit – the ‘last mile device’ that we designed this past summer and had only used once. It enabled us to transfer two yurts, while their platforms were set-up on the short length of the Groovy tractor unit.
Thursday, December 3rd
By the time I arrived at Lara’s at 9am, I learned that their substructure was not finished.
I really need to praise our customers who are ready for our arrival and follow instructions. In Lara’s defense, her order was placed last minute, and it had been raining ever since.
This new Canadian resident has been living in the area for only a year. She managed to get together the most amazing team of neighbours and friends I’ve ever seen.
People of all ages, backgrounds, and skill sets helped the entire day with such enthusiasm, kindness, and dedication that we managed to put up not one, but two yurts and their platforms. Kudos to these amazing people, and to Lara for assembling such a team!
I made my way back to the pub parking lot and still had to take my structure down and reconnect the trailer. The local beer that night tasted fabulous!
Friday, December 4th
I was sad to leave this beautiful area, but I needed to continue to my next stop in the Bay of Fundy. So, I crossed Nova Scotia from East to West to meet our next customer.
Gert’s sister is already the happy owner of a Groovy Yurt, thus inspiring him to leave Ontario and live in a yurt of his own in the Maritimes. He is not happy with the way the world is evolving and thinks that government and large corporations are slowly overtaking our private lives.
I understand his point of view, but I do not share its extreme negativity. We all create our own sense of reality and I prefer mine to be happier. I strongly believe that the world is slowly progressing. Unfortunately, we cannot debate much longer as Gert is not ready for set-up and we decide to store his yurt in his sister’s beautiful 300-year-old house.
Afterwards, I drove over the nearby hill to get back to the coast and am once again lucky to find a small fish shack where I allow myself a lunch break.
I decide to drive around the bay (a 5-hour drive) and stop before Saint John to have a look at Dannie’s yurt, who supposedly had a lot of water entering above her door. We found the yurt in the middle of a swamped field and were very confused when it appeared to be vacant, however, things cleared up when her kind neighbour led me to her.
Upon arrival, I heard what I thought was a security alarm. The noise didn’t stop until I opened the door and realized that it wasn’t a security system after all, but rather a beautiful white parrot.
The bird politely greeted me with a loud, “Good Morning! Good morning!” I began to reply, but the bird proceeded to interrupt me and asked, “Do you need a shower?” Huh, do I really stink that badly? Note to self: bathe more often.
After looking at the doors, I realized that the back one had not been taped properly by our team in anticipation of connecting an outdoor structure, but the structure was never added. It was an easy fix, but it took a couple hours in the dark with a flashlight in my mouth and encouragement from half a dozen parrots and other feathered beings.
I also noticed many humidity stains in the ceiling. The outer canvas was dry after a good day, but the under-wrap was moist.
This yurt houses a variety of birds and two dogs in a climate that is already very humid. Additionally, Dannie is cooking and heating with propane which produces more humidity and has also sealed her toono (dome), leaving no escape for the humidity produced inside, and causing it to condense under the colder wrap. This is an issue that we are continuously facing with those living in yurts in cold climates. Until we find a better solution, yurt dwellers must be very careful not to produce extra humidity and make sure to ventilate when they do.
At the end of the day, I am once again blessed to find a perfect spot at the gate of a closed holiday resort. I fell asleep that night to the sound of crashing waves.
Stay tuned for the 3rd and final installment of our Maritimes Delivery Tour, coming soon!
https://groovyyurts.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Picture7.jpg263468The Groovy Yurts Teamhttp://groovyyurts.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/groovy-yurts.pngThe Groovy Yurts Team2021-01-28 23:44:092021-05-06 14:29:04Canadian Maritimes Yurt Delivery Tour – Part 2
We recently embarked on a Groovy Yurts delivery tour to the Maritime provinces of Canada.
It’s our pleasure to bring you a three-part blog about this wonderful experience – written by Groovy Yurts founder Yves.
Here is Part One.
Friday, November 27th
My journey began at noon after having loaded the Groovy truck with 12 yurts.
The snow had disappeared, but the cold had not, and that’s precisely when I realized that the truck’s cab had decided to no longer produce heat!
So, the first stop on my journey happened approximately 30’ down the road from where it began. Great start. I did manage to fix the system and continued through Quebec under light snow until New Brunswick.
Saturday, November 28th
This morning’s meeting was with two of our customers at a local café.
They are living in a local commune, where Banyon set up his yurt this past fall and Kerry will set up the carved yurt that she ordered in the spring. We discussed the pros and cons of living in a yurt and how to manage humidity. People tend to want to install all amenities in a yurt, just like a house, forgetting it is a sturdy tent. By the end, we were all on the same page and came up with some great ideas!
Afterwards, we were pleasantly surprised after stopping for a (rare) on-the-road burger at A&W and received the 25% discount that they offer to truckers, as we’re considered essential workers. It’s safe to say we’ve never been so touched from receiving fast food.
Later, we crossed the Northumberland straight on the 13km long Confederation Bridge. My very first sight of Prince Edward Island was reduced to a great view of dense fog. At the scale, the officer welcomed me to PEI and thanked me for performing an essential service… and then told me that I am not allowed inside any shops or restaurant. Little did they know that I’m now royalty at the A&W drive-through.
I loved discovering Anne of Green Gables’ island for the first time. I was thrilled to arrive at Heather and Jarrod’s early enough to make an action plan for the next few days, and still have time for a walk on an immense, empty sand beach. Day 2 was a success!
Sunday, November 29th
We started the day off early to unload 6 yurts and install the first structures of the new Nature Space Eco Resort. It will take another few months for the yurt retreat to open, as the local building authorities are being overly cautious in providing the necessary authorizations.
We accomplished the set-up of one Super Ger by sundown. It was tricky to keep clear of the beautiful PEI red soil that had quickly transformed into sticky red mud from the recent rains. We eventually emptied the truck and celebrated with a toast when the job was finally complete by 8pm. People often underestimate how heavy some of the parts can be, especially on larger yurts. Takeaway from today: Much like PEI, our team is small but mighty!
Monday, November 30th
We put up a second yurt in what will become a beautiful resort offering a special place for the peace and healing of…veterinarians. These practitioners are subject to some of the worst cases of depression amongst medical personnel, which is often not talked about. Heather, one of the wonderful veterinarians we met, knows this all too well and was able to elaborate on her experiences and the experiences of others in the field.
Despite the darker circumstances, we were blessed with two full days of sunshine. However, all good things must come to an end, and the weather forecast indicated that the sunny days wouldn’t be lasting forever, so, I booked a ferry online before heading to bed.
Tuesday, December 1st
This morning I drove 140km to the ferry boat only to realize that it was cancelled due to bad weather. I had missed the text they sent 5 minutes after hitting the road. This news was bitter-sweet as it meant driving 140kms back to the bridge, but it also allowed me to finally get a good look at the beautiful island and its shores, white churches, and small farms. On my way back out to the ferry, I discover that the bridge is now closed as well for big trucks due to high winds. And I thought I had a simple day ahead of me… Finally, the bridge re-opens and a couple dozen trucks rush across before the next blast of wind. Living on an Island has its prerogatives.
It’s a long drive to Cape Breton, so, I chose the coastal route. I’m in the Maritimes after all. I reach my next destination, Cabot Shores, at 3pm and meet Dr. Paul, the owner of a resort that offers 13 of our yurts (as well as other dwellings). Some are in rough shape, and it’s clear that the local climate imposes faster aging on the outer covers and ropes. However, this does not seem to bother Dr. Paul and his guests. I am bringing a few new yurt covers as it’s understood that their replacement every few years is a part of the deal for this climate.
I hit the road back south and am extremely happy to find a good parking spot at a small-town pier. It should be noted that ‘The Old Freight Shed’ offers a great seafood menu, which I took full advantage of. At this point, I’m the happiest trucker on earth. I was no longer the happiest trucker on earth when I received an email from a local who got scared by the speed and noise of the Groovy truck passing by her house. I was extremely apologetic and invited the complainant for breakfast the next morning; the invitation was not taken. Oh, well.
Stay tuned for Part 2 in the journey of our Maritimes Delivery Tour.
The Mongolian ger (or yurt) is an intricate combination of technical necessities and symbolism.
The yurt itself is a representation of the universe. You enter the yurt with the right foot first and progress clock-wise; following the sun shining in the yurt over the course of the day.
In this edition of the Groovy Yurts blog, we’ll dive into some of the wonderful symbolism of Mongolian yurts, deeply rooted in tradition and full of meaning to the Mongolian people.
Yurt Symbolism, from Top to Bottom
The toono (dome) symbolizes the sky and the transition to the spirit and the universe. It is supported by two bagaanas (central poles) that represent the woman (east) and the man (west), who equally support the universe.
North, opposite to the door, is the most sacred place (or place of honour). The door faces south in Mongolia, although it seems that it used to face East, like most North American native dwellings.
Throughout history, the North American indigenous people have shared many symbols with the Mongolians.
The amount of roof rafters (hunis) is significant as well. The 5-wall ger, possibly the most common, supports 81 hunis, which is 9×9. Nine is the sacred number for Mongolian nomads.
Additionally, the ger is not anchored to the ground, as not to harm the earth. This is a perfect reflection of the Mongolian’s respect for and relation to the environment.
How Colour & Religion Play Roles in Mongolian Yurts
The orange colour, most often painted onto the woodwork of the yurt, represents the sun shining over the grassland, or fire.
Blue, a symbol of good luck and respect, represents the Mongolian eternal blue sky.
In the 16th century Buddhism was reintroduced to Mongolia, which brought additional symbolism to the ger.
Beginning with the toono, which has taken the shape of the wheel of Dharma and represents the 8 teachings of the Buddha.
The ulzzi (the infinity knot), which is seen in several different variations in the paint and is also often sewn into the canvas, represents the connection of everything in the universe.
Honouring & Respecting Mongolia, Its People & the Yurts
We do want to make it clear that this blog is the result of a few years working of with gers and a deep love for Mongolia. It is not the result of scientific research. We do welcome comments and additional information!
Below, we’ve included some symbols and comments from Enerel, our friend and team member in Mongolia:
White shell, or lavai, came to us with Tibetan Buddhism in the 16th century. The white colour means something positive and good in life, erudition.
Ulzii, the endless knot, is for luck and means life-long happiness.
The hammer pattern means eternal life.
The khas or tumen nasan pattern means eternal life, power, and strength.
Your Source for Yurts & Yurt Information
Got any questions about Mongolian yurts or the connection between yurts and the Mongolian people?
Nowhere can we think of a better example of wool’s many benefits than by looking at Mongolian yurts and the traditional felt that insulates the yurt against cold, harsh winters.
In this edition of the Groovy Yurts blog we’ll look at the traditional felt making process that goes into creating comfortable, sturdy yurts.
Why Sheep’s Wool Makes a Great Yurt
When processed as felt and used as a yurt (or “ger” as the Mongolian people call it) lining, the wool breathes and insulates the space with the varying temperatures of the summer.
Wool felt in a yurt can also accumulate a certain amount of humidity and give it back when it gets drier (an all-natural humidifier). In addition, Mongolian yurt felt made of sheep’s wool is a great acoustic insulator, which helps make the yurt very cozy.
The best part? These felts protect against almost all elements.
It’s naturally fire retardant and resists mold and wards off ear and tear, while actively participating in the yurt’s strength.
Mongolians say that felt is the ger’s muscle.
It is certainly a fabulous product as the fibre is rapidly renewable and 100% biodegradable!
Wool Felt: Traditional Crafting in Mongolian Yurts
Felt is traditionally made by the nomads of Mongolia by cleaning the wool, beating it, carefully laying it out evenly, getting it wet, and finally, collecting it into a big roll pulled by a horse across the grassland.
This fun video describes it well:
The felt can become water resistant over time, partly from the lanolin and dirt, but mainly from the smoke produced by the open fire in the ger.
Open fires were commonly built in the yurts prior to using stoves with a chimney, which according to a few Mongolian elders, is the best improvement in 2000 years. We’ve been told that the older ‘waterproofed’ layers were then put on top of the yurt to protect from Mongolian rains.
Often the felt is mixed with cow or horsehair to improve strength. The only downsides to that material are that it is difficult to clean wool, and the felt will have a strong odor when wet. It also tends to fall apart over time if it is not felted well, or if it’s exposed to constant sunlight.
Groovy Yurts: Our Felt Is Made of 100% Mongolian Wool
The felts used for own yurts are made with a needle machine and 100% Mongolian wool. That means that your yurt comes with a story of the people who made it.
We previously bought yurt felt from the old state factory that uses old Soviet era machines in Ulaanbaatar.
We now source the felt for our yurts from the countryside, where a similar technique is used in Bataa’s province, but with newer machines. We love that the profit goes directly to this rural area.
This new felt is denser, much cleaner, more consistent, and somehow seems to offer better insulating properties with a similar thickness. The felt that we previously bought was definitely not waterproof.
This community created a complete layer of decorated felt for their own yurt. This incredible work of art depicts the making of felt in Mongolia. The illustrations are made with different colours of wool and felted together using a wet tapestry inlay technique!
For more questions about the wonders of yurts and their many benefits, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
Photographs taken in 2002 in Bulgan Aimag, in the northern part of Mongolia (northwest of UlaanBaatar) by Dr. Michael Gervers Turkish Felts
https://groovyyurts.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Groovy-Yurts-Dec-2020-Blog-2-images-1-2.jpg356476The Groovy Yurts Teamhttp://groovyyurts.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/groovy-yurts.pngThe Groovy Yurts Team2020-12-10 16:46:552021-02-01 11:22:59Mongolian Yurts & the Traditional Felt-Making Process