We met up with Rivkah from Groovy Yurts (www.groovyyurts.com) to learn about the traditional hand-painted yurts (gers) they import directly from Mongolia, and we also helped her team set one up at the Tiny House Festival this summer. It was more work than we thought it would be but it was totally worth it when we finally stepped inside the beautiful structure. Mat and I both love the round shape of a yurt, and the natural light that pours in from the skylight dome in the center. We also really appreciate that these yurts are made from 100% natural & renewable resources. The wall lattice (khana), the roof ring (toono), and the rafters (uni) are built from sustainably harvested wood (Groovy Yurts plants 35 trees for every yurt sold). The cotton liner and outside cover are made from cotton (less sustainable but still natural and renewable), the insulation is made from sheep's wool felt, the ropes that tie the yurt together are made from braided horse hair, and the lattice joints are held together with pieces of camel hide. It took us no time at all to set up the walls of the yurt into a perfect circle. The tricky part was making sure the centre ring was actually centred so that the rafters could fit into the notches at the top of the lattice walls, and into the notches in the centre ring. In less than a few hours, we helped set up a house that was cozy and warm, all natural, and that provided ample natural daylight. We couldn't get over how easy it was to make a yurt compared to building a tiny house or a conventional home. And it was so much cheaper, too! Obviously the materials that a yurt are made of will not last as long as a conventional home, but they can still last a very long time if they're properly cared for. Rivkah was telling us that in Mongolia, they expect a yurt to last 100 years, with repairs and maintenance of course. In some of North America's wetter climates, yurts of any kind (natural and synthetic) can experience moisture issues if they are not regularly occupied and heated to keep them dry. To combat this moisture issue, Groovy Yurts offers the option of including an additional waterproof layer between the canvas and the insulation to avoid moisture seeping into the structure. Mongolian yurts are hand-painted and are usually red or orange inside to symbolize the sun shining over the Mongolian steppe. They are traditionally heated with a wood stove that is also used for cooking. Since Mongolian people have a deep respect for the earth, they prefer not to tie their homes down to the earth. Instead, they will use a rope and attach it to something heavy, like their wood stove or a heavy rock to prevent it from being damaged by high winds. Yurts (also known as Gers) are impressively simple yet efficient little structures with a lot of character. We hope you have fun learning more about them in this video.
For more information about Groovy Yurts, visit their website here: http://www.groovyyurts.com/en/