assembly process of a yurt

10 Tips for Spring Yurt Care

Spring alert! The warm weather is here, and everyone is coming out of yurt hibernation!

Now is the time to freshen things up a bit. Let’s get going with 10 helpful tips for springtime yurt care.

Resetting Your Yurt or Ger

Mongolian gers are usually reset 3-4 times per year by nomads in the steppes.

The ger likes it. It is the perfect occasion to thoroughly ventilate the layers, fix any holes in the covers, and/or straighten the entire structure.

Some Mongolians say their gers last 100 years.

This may be true, but more than likely there are not many parts left from the original yurt structure a century prior.

It is normal to change parts over time, and it is easy – especially if you do not have a 12-wall, 40’, mezzanine with plumbing Super Yurt. This will cost WAY less than changing the roof on your house.

Spring Overhaul to Refresh your Ger & Keep It in Great Usable Shape

yurt componentsHere are some pointers for your spring overhaul:

  • If taking the yurt completely down is not the best option for you, you can just remove the covers and felts. In the case that it has moved or twisted in the winds, take this opportunity to re-center the structure if necessary.
  • The cotton-based canvas will not last forever, but it is a cheap, comfortable, and healthy option compared to a vinyl cover. We generally do not have to change canvases until after 3 years, and still, it is not uncommon to see others that last 10 years, such as in the Yukon. Groovy Yurts come with 10 years ‘at cost’ warranty on our canvases (30% off the listed price).
  • If your canvas has become dirty or green, it can be cleaned by being brushed or power washed. Yurt canvas can also be re-treated with a water repellent, but the cost (and effects) of such products may surpass that of a replacement canvas after a few years…
  • Did your felts slide over time? You can just add ropes to hold them in place or by using the red (or Peter’s white!) house tape as shown in this picture.
  • interior of mongolian yurtCheck the inner liner for any water stains. If stains are located, try to identify where the water infiltrated, generally by fixing the house wrap. Some house wraps, specifically the Novawrap, become worn as the wind causes the canvas to rub, thus causing them to lose their protective coat in places. Keeping your yurt dry from water coming in is very important.
  • The toono, doors, windows, and the base of the yurt are other places where water can infiltrate. Seal the top and sides of your doors and windows, and check caulking. Replace if necessary.
  • people assembling mongolian ger or yurtOnce you have fixed any potential leaks, you can remove stains on the inner liner by spraying a vinegar and water solution, Borax and water solution, or putting it in a washing machine
  • If you are interested in adding a window to your ger, now might be a good time!
  • It is important to check your toono for cracks and possibly reinforce it with a couple screws if you see two layers starting to separate.
  • Adding a good layer of varnish on all exterior wood pieces is highly recommended.
  • Make sure your ropes are strong and tightened properly. Since the horsehair ropes do age quicker, you have a few options for upkeep. You can switch these out with straps, braid your own, or get new ones from your yurt supplier! We keep selling them with our yurts, as they provide a valuable income to the Mongolian herders.

Groovy Yurt customers have access to set-up videos and the infamous “How to Care for My Yurt” PDF.

frame of yurt structure

We’re Here to Help with Your Yurt / Ger Questions & Concerns

Do not hesitate to get in touch with us for any questions!

We like to believe the yurt has a spirit.

Your yurt will be thankful that you have taken care of its body and you will learn more about how the incredible dwelling works and reacts to you and its environment.

mongolian man in front of mongolian yurt

Yurt or Ger? That Is the Question!

Yurt?

Ger?

Which one is the right pronunciation?

The answer depends on a number of things, such as where you are and where you’re referring to.

Let’s take a closer look into the Yurt vs Ger debate, in this edition of the Groovy Yurts blog.

Mongolian Ger

our mongolian turt delivery truck

Twice a year we receive a very offended e-mail from someone who has recently returned from Mongolia.

They write to tell us that we are insulting Mongolians by calling their traditional dwelling a yurt, rather than a ger.

However, we know that this is only a sign that our passionate writer has had a good time in Mongolia and feels like protecting it’s perfectly simplistic and millenary way of life, any way they can.

We encourage such enthusiasm, as we ourselves are quite fond of this amazing country and its rich culture.

“Ger” in Mongolian means home and refers to the traditional dwelling.

Fun fact: “Ger” can also serve as a reference to a flat in an old soviet-style apartment building in Ulaanbaatar, the capital.

Specifically, Mongolians will refer to their felted abode as a “traditional Mongolian ger” or a “national Mongolian ger.”

Saying ‘Yurt’ Isn’t Wrong

mongolian family in front of house

‘Yurt,’ meanwhile, is a word of Turkik origin, and has been adopted in other languages, such as Russian, and means ‘home’ or ‘where one sleeps.’

Since the English word that best describes this sturdy tent is ‘yurt’, we decided to adopt it for a better general understanding.

Rather than trying to educate the English or French speaking population on a Mongolian word, we have decided to concentrate our energy in distributing quality yurts, alongside the wonderful Mongolian culture.

I have asked this very question to Bataa, the man behind many of our gers, and a proud Mongolian nomad. He said to me: “In Mongolia we use the word ger, but you are welcome to call it anything you want, as long as the product makes you happy.”

The few Mongolians that we have met on the road in North America with our big ‘yurt’ branded truck seemed quite enthusiastic, thankful even, that we promote their culture.

To date, I have never heard otherwise from a Mongolian national and will continue interchanging the use of “yurt” or “ger.” I believe it to be one of the many examples of why Mongolia is the perfect model of pride, tolerance, living in the moment, sense of responsibility to oneself, respect for nature and all living beings, and a love for the eternal blue sky.

Happy yurting…or ger-ing!

 

mongolian yurt in wintertime

How Yurts Adapt to Varying Seasons & Climates

Being made of mostly natural material in a country that is often very dry, Mongolian yurts must be protected from humidity. This is accomplished by a careful selection of material, wood, felts, paints, sealants, ropes and canvases.

Developing alternative parts and manufacturing processes without eliminating traditions is another important practice that we engage in. It’s often a slow process, but is essential for the improvement of our yurts, especially across varying climates. This is our job, which we love and are passionate about.

Best Location for Your Yurt

Choosing the right location for your yurt is another very important aspect of our role.

Installing your yurt in the midst of a rain forest and forgetting about it for a year is not advisable, as this will likely result in the structure being reduced to a pile of wood and well on its way to becoming part of the soil that it was erected on.

In general, it is best to install your yurt in a ventilated area, preferably away from a tree base or near a bush. Additionally, having the sun shine on your yurt every once in a while, is a good thing.

A yurt/ger should be considered a living structure and will flourish if it is used and taken care of. Therefore, people who live in their yurts or use them very regularly will get the most out of their new dwelling.

Yurts are all set up to be heated and ventilated, and with only the occasional tensioning of ropes, the occupants can maintain these systems.

The yurts also love to be reset occasionally or taken down and stored in a dry place, if there are no plans to use it for 6+ months.

Our customers have been successfully using Mongolian yurts in the humid islands of British Columbia and in Iceland, where the elements can be rather extreme. The beauty of the concept is its simplicity and adaptability to almost any climate. Some tweaking might be necessary.

doing maintenance on a yurt in winter

Yurts are Breathing!

One of the best qualities of the Mongolian yurt is that it breathes.

This is largely due to the canvas used, which is also water resistant, but not waterproof.

We therefore recommend adding a layer of house wrap in humid regions. This can either be acquired through purchase or can be made yourself, with the help of our instructions. It should be installed between the outer canvas and the felt insulation, and will ensure that humidity is taken care of, while maintaining its breathability.

So far, this has been the best compromise we’ve found and therefore we’ve been using it for over 10 years.

In the eastern part of Mongolia, where humidity is higher and house wrap or water repellant are nowhere to be found, yurts are sometimes installed under a roof during the rainy season.

However, this house wrap does have its down sides: it slightly reduces the breathability and must be completely intact to not let any water in. Not all house wraps are equal. Some breathe better. Some hold no water. Some wear out over time under the rubbing of the canvas in the wind.

Having some humidity spots here and there is not unusual and can be easily fixed. Having very large wet areas in the ceiling or walls is not a good sign and should be addressed.

Mongolian yurt in Canadian winter

Year-Round Yurt Living – Common Issues

With an increasing amount of people living in Mongolian yurts year-round, we started to notice condensation issues, mostly in cold winter climates.

Common sources of humidity from yurt dwellers are cooking, drying of clothes or wood, tracking in snow from boots, propane stoves, etc. The moisture evaporates, penetrates the insulation, hits the cold house wrap, condensates and accumulates in the felts to the point of dripping back down.

It is very important to monitor the level of humidity produced in the yurt – and ventilate accordingly, preferably through the toono, to give a chance for this moisture to evacuate.

This is necessary even if one has a tendency of closing everything to prevent heat from escaping.

Wood stoves are best to dry a yurt from inside out, but it is still important to remove the snow off the roof. Melted snow can accumulate under the canvas, freeze on the house wrap and further reduce breathability.

Additionally, ice can start to build up at the edge of the roof, creating beautiful ‘yurtcicles.’ This ice accumulation is not necessarily good for the canvas and can prevent effective water drainage from the roof. One way to get rid of overnight ice accumulation is to increase the temperature of the fire in the stove, while tapping the ceiling from inside the yurt.

Adapting to Your Yurt

A yurt will react differently depending on where and how it is used.

You will adapt to your yurt and, likewise, the yurt will adapt to your needs.

The structure is so simple that there’s always a solution. We have accumulated a fair bit of experience over the years and are always ‘at yurt service’ to discuss adjustments and solutions.

Happy yurting – winter, summer and all year round!

Buddhist temple in a yurt

Mongolian Yurts, Impermanence and Buddhism

How are Mongolian yurts interconnected with the Buddhist concept of impermanence?

Historically, Mongolians have been Animist or Shamanist – believing in surrounding nature, wind, animals, spirits and the ‘Eternal Blue Sky.’

Mongolians spend most of their life connected to the ground in a yurt, which shelters them from the extreme climate but directly unites people with their environment. The yurt is not anchored to the ground, as not to harm the earth, and is a small representation of the universe.

Let’s explore some of the history behind these concepts, and how Mongolian culture today reflects this long-held concept of impermanence.

Yurts, the Khans and Tibetan Buddhism

buddhist temple in mongolia

Buddhist temple in a remote area of Western Mongolia.

Kubilai Khan, Genghis Khan’s grandson, introduced Tibetan Buddhism to Mongolia in the 13th century, but Mongolians returned to Shamanism after the collapse of the empire.

In the 16th century Buddhism was reintroduced to Mongolia by a military leader who wanted to reunite the empire. It once again began flourishing until being halted by the communist regime in 1924, who forbade any type of religion. They began to persecute Buddhist monks and believers, destroying temples and monasteries across the country. At that time, there were 140 living buddhas (people who have reached enlightenment) in the country.

The downfall of the socialist regime caused a resurgence of Buddhism in Mongolia, alongside a seemingly new interest in meditation amongst the population.

Buddhism in Mongolia Today

sacred mongolian site

An ovoo, a sacred pile of stones, combines shamanist and Buddhist believes.

Buddhism and Shamanism continue to be part of Mongolian spiritual life today.

Perhaps nowhere better is evidence of this found than within the yurt.

The toono (dome) is built in the shape of the wheel of Dharma (the Eightfold Noble Path); while the décor, inspired by Buddhist symbolism (in particular, ulziis – the infinity knots), represents the interconnection of everything in the universe.

The Principle of Impermanence

in a mongolian yurt

The toono is shaped in a wheel of Dahrma.

How did these fierce conquerors become so peaceful and tolerant?

Has the Buddhist philosophy helped explain the laws of nature that they experienced in their daily lives for millennia?

I have no doubt that the yurts, or gers, with their sturdy but soft felt dwellings also had a role to play. Mongolians live for the day, or even the moment, and deeply understand the principle of impermanence.

This principle is not always easy to practice, especially when one tries to sell their products to the Western world. Planning and quality are two values that might not be of utmost important to the free Mongolian nomad and it has been interesting trying to mesh the differing values.

Yurts, Impermanence and Minimalism

The yurt itself is impermanent.

It’s made to be set up and taken down, and if abandoned to the elements, will simply fall back to the ground, without a trace.

Each yurtis made with intention.

The builders sing while painting the traditional patterns, thank the sheep for their wool and thank the horse while cutting its mane for ropes.

Are these some of the reasons that it feels so right to mediate in a ger or that one feels so good in an authentic Mongolian yurt?

May all beings be happy!

mongolian yurts in gobi desert

GroovyYurts Taking on Hollywood!

 

With yurts becoming increasingly popular around the world, they are beginning to attract the attention of major film and advertising producers. These are always fun, but often tricky, opportunities…

Started with Yurts in the Yukon & Iceland

It began a few years back while we were delivering yurts in the Yukon.

A very well-known movie company called us to source a few yurts for a Ben Stiller production. The issue: they needed them 1 week later in New York City!

After much deliberation, we managed to get the yurts on site and in time to be shipped out once more to Iceland for the set. The yurt scene for ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ was eventually cut from the blockbuster, but this is how the first Mongolian yurts ended up on this crazy island in the North Sea.

interior of a mongolian yurtYurts in The Big Apple

Our next big feature found us sending yurts to New York City once again.

This time, a TV studio was asking for a 12’ ger and the delivery was nothing short of eventful.

We made it on time but not without a pit stop in the Adirondacks after completely totaling our car in an icy highway ditch; the Hollywood lifestyle is hardcore. I guess that’s show biz, never a dull moment.

The yurt was eventually transformed by the TV studio into an African hut (seriously?) for a series whose name has since been forgotten. On the stage, we transformed the back of the yurt to accommodate a large camera. Yet another modification for the Mongolian yurt! The possibilities seem to be (almost) endless.

traditional mongolian yurt

Indie Yurts in Alberta

The third venture occurred in our home country for an Indie film being shot in Alberta called, ‘Burn Your Maps.’

This movie set saw half of our stock of traditional Mongolian yurts, furniture and clothing in an effort to recreate a scene on the Mongolian countryside. If this interests you, the film trailer can be viewed on Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q35bysShewQ.

looking up in a mongolian yurt

New Mexico, Quebec, California & Beyond

A couple other noteworthy film projects are the special agents occupying about 10 of our yurts in New Mexico for the filming of a TV series, ‘The Brave’ – and an unreleased film shot in Quebec that required 4 yurts and a lot of Mongolian furniture and clothing.

Additionally, we have been lucky to participate in another half a dozen sets, predominantly located within Toronto and California.

As new B-listers in the Hollywood scene, everyone knows that it is essential to become involved with TV commercials. So, we made this happen.

Our yurts can been found in TV ads such as ‘Jack in the Box’ and the recently world-famous Avocados from Mexico, which aired during the 2020 Super Bowl.

What’s Next For Groovy Yurts on the Big & Little Screens?

Of course, we’re always so so thankful for these crazy opportunities that push us to find innovative solutions in often very limited amounts of time.

This is definitely a whole other world to us!

Where will the yurts take us next?

Stay tuned!

mongolian painter hand painting the yurt toono

Groovy Yurts March Update

A little bit of Groovy news for those who are waiting for their new dwelling or considering acquiring one:

 

The first bit of  good news is that the families of our supplier, and Mongolians in general, are doing well. Mongolia reacted extremely quickly and appropriately by closing their borders in January and forbade most travels within the country, including during the beloved celebration of TsgaanSar (the Mongolian New Year). In the countryside, they are used to living in isolated gers (yurts) and sustaining themselves, and therefore distancing measures have not come as a major disruption to their typical lifestyle.

In Canada, we have now gone remote and work mostly from home. We are still capable of shipping and are taking measures to do so safely. We are preparing for our delivery tour in the late spring but are looking at more affordable ways to ship yurts for anyone with more pressing needs or desires. If picking up your yurt is an option, we can make that happen safely as well!

The demand for yurts has seen slight growth this year, as people look to transition into more affordable, remote and sustainable ways of living. Recently, we were offered new ways of payments and barter and would love to take a couple sheep in exchange for a yurt. We believe that in the future, the world may need to reconsider the way it does business. For the moment, we are still only using standard currencies to secure yurt orders, purchases, and to guarantee their production in Mongolia. In the event we are unable to deliver, our restocking fees will be waived for all orders and full refunds issued.

Additionally, we are doing everything in our power to make sure all yurt parts and options are available to order, but should we fall short, we will deliver or ship at a later date. We are already thankful for your understanding and will do our very best to fulfill all demand.

Do not hesitate to reach out should you have any questions.

In the meantime, stay safe and may you be happy!

The Groovy Team

yurt comnponents built in mongolia

How Mongolian Yurts Are Made

Mongolian Yurts – The #1 Choice for True Yurt Enhusiasts

You’ll find essentially two kinds of yurts on the North American market nowadays:

Modern yurts and traditional yurts.

At Groovy Yurts, we’re all about authentic yurts, made in Mongolia. Mongolian yurts are not only made to be sturdy in the great tradition of the Mongolian people, these yurts are made with love, care and respect.

Want to know more about how yurts are made in Mongolia? You’ve come to the right place! On this page we’ll cover the specific process by which Mongolian yurts are made, including the materials used (still respecting and following the Mongolian tradition) and some of steps involved in the creation.

Having said that, some essential maintenance and precaution is necessary to ensure that your yurt is ready for winter and will hold up well as the storms and extreme temperatures run their course.

In this edition of the Groovy Yurts Blog, we’ll show you some winter tips for yurt living.

A Time-Honoured Tradition of Mongolian Yurt Manufacturing

Mongolian yurt parts

Yurts have served as the traditional family home and housing structure in Mongolia for millennia.

Over time there has been the occasional improvement or innovation, but at its essence the Mongolian yurt you’ll experience today is very similar to the yurts used by Mongolian people in the nomadic steppes of Central Asia going back a millennium or more.

Why?

Because yurts are, quite simply put, one of the best residential structures ever created. They are simple and accessible to the masses, providing shelter to anyone seeking it. Yurts are warm in the winter and cool in the summer; they do a tremendous job of protecting inhabitants from the elements outside. They have been shaped by Mongolia’s extreme climate over thousands of years.

Yurts also have very spiritual elements, found in many of the components of the yurt structure both outside and inside. That’s why Mongolian yurts are not manufactured on an assembly line. Instead you’ll find that the Mongolian people create yurt components using a meticulous process.

Mongolian Yurts Are a Proud Family Tradition That Incorporates Respect & Spirituality

A yurt, or “ger” as it is known in the Mongolian language, is not a random assembly of prefab pieces. Each component of the yurt has meaning, and, as each is created by hand, no two yurts are the same.

The wooden pieces of the yurt – in particular the door, the pillars (bagaans), the roof rafters (huns) and the toono (the compression ring that is at the top of the yurt) are made to measure and painted by hand.

Other components such as insulation and ropes are made from sheep’s wool and horsehair, respectively (and respectfully). Horse hair ropes do not last forever in a humid climate and can always be changed to new ones or synthetic straps. We keep offer them as a standard as they are beautiful an create a direct source of income for the Mongolian herders.

As you can probably guess by now, Mongolian yurts are not made in a central “yurt factory.” That concept would be completely foreign and unimaginable for the Mongolian people.

Mongolian yurts are very much a family business.

At Groovy Yurts, we’ve lived and traveled extensively in Mongolia. As such we’ve partnered with a family in Mongolia who make yurts. In the video below you can see this family, led by a wonderful fellow named Baata.

These phenomenal people create most of the yurt components that we offer to you. Everything they make is done by hand, and each component – while following the traditions of time – is unique in the way it is created.

The Essential Components of a Mongolian Yurt & How They Are Created

The materials used in a Mongolian yurt are all natural.

Take the ropes that are used to wrap and secure the yurts. These ropes are made from horsehair. But not just any hair from the horse. Only hair from the mane is clipped and used to create yurt ropes. Why not take hair from the horse’s tail? No, this is would be sacrilege! The hair on the tail belongs to the horse and is considered sacred.

interior decor of a Mongolian Yurt

Sheep’s wool is generally used for insulation in a yurt. At Groovy Yurts we offer the “white felt” which is more dense and considered to hold up to humidity better.

The wood for the lattice walls is still split and cut by hand. Wood is carefully selected for each part and dried; Tamarack for the walls and huns and Siberian pine for the other parts

In the video you’ll see the family hand-painting the various wooden components. These paints are water based and we varnish the exterior parts. Painting is done by all the women in the family, who are known to sing traditional Mongolian songs while engaging in their work.

It’s not unheard of for the family to pause and take a break from the yurt-making to engage in a little friendly wrestling.

Mongolian Yurts Are a Truly Unique Product Made with Respect and Love

So you can see that Mongolian yurts truly are a one-of-a-kind product not just to own but to respect and appreciate, knowing they were made with respect and love.

yurt on snow in wintertime in canada

Winter Yurt Tips

One question we’re often asked is, “Do yurts hold up well

woman camping with her dog in a yurt

Blog #4 – Beige’s yurt Experience

Are you interested by off grid living??

In this case Amazing Alternative’s video of Beige’s yurt experience is a must see. She really pushed the limit of off grid living and this is an honest report of real life in a Mongolian yurt in the harsh climate of Ontario. 

Check out Beiges video below, she is truly inspiring.

https://youtu.be/12neLeeNPls

Super Ger Groovy Yurt in the BC countryside

Can Anyone Live in a Mongolian Ger?

Can Anyone live in a Mongolian Ger;

Yessss!!! … and No…

Yes, because the yurt can be adapted to almost any need and wish. Comfort is a very personal thing. For some, just having a roof and an insulated shelter is enough. For others, taking a warm shower, having a TV room, a gym, a bar and a hot-tub represents the absolute minimum requirements. It is really you who will define if a yurt is right for you. Most of our customers who have chosen a yurt as their primary dwelling have made similar discoveries during their transitions. Most agreed it was difficult to institute a level of organization in the beginning. Working with the thermodynamics of space would for most certainly take some time. Amongst this and other adjustments, the transition and fine tuning to a simpler life would soon prove to be extremely fulfilling, and thus creating time to enjoy what was really important to them.

 

I have seen a couple with very limited practical skills (at least in the beginning:-), quit their well paid jobs, sell their home, and live remotely off grid in their yurt. After three years they continue to be extremely happy and successful at living and loving their yurt lifestyle. They have adapted to their own needs and the needs of their yurt. On the contrary,  I have also experienced a customer who has left his highly paid job to dedicate himself to a simpler holistic lifestyle. After much research he was convinced our product was exactly what he was looking for. His dream to live in our hand made organic Mongolian Ger needed to include with absolute certainty all the amenities of home, including; plumbing, windows, high end flooring etc. Not that this can’t happen, but accommodations need to be made and understood.  Leaks rarely happen. However, a small leak into this yurt would most certainly prove to be catastrophic, and now we have on our hands, a very distraught client. Our yurts are as close as you will get to a living, breathing dwelling. Left to their own vices they will merge with the earth once again. Understanding the amazing advantages and the real challenges of our hand crafted Mongolian yurts is crucial to success in your yurt.

A Mongolian ger is perfect… and yet imperfect at the same time. If one is ready to adjust, modify and adapt, you will certainly be a happy groovy yurter.  If instead you expect the perfection of an industry manufactured product, you may however face disappointment.

My point is, that if you choose a Groovy yurt for your needs either to live in, for recreational purposes, special events, or term rentals it is important to understand the physical dwelling, the culture, the history, and the journey that brought it to your door. I can ensure you that understanding our yurts purpose, advantages and limitations will help you to succeed beyond what you ever would have dreamed imaginable.