It’s been a while! Merry Christmas all!
The season of Christmas has been a very focusing one for us. It’s been cold – very cold – for a long time now. This weather doesn’t usually hit us until mid January, and then it stays for only a few days. But we’ve been fighting off this deep-freeze for a while now, and it’s been pretty exhausting in a lot of ways.
It’s also been our best and coziest cold-spell yet! I think we’ve learned a lot in 7 years. Our first few cold-spells were just us huddling ’round the stove and waking every couple hours to feed the stove, because it had to burn hot the whole night through! Super exhausting!
This year, the deep-freeze has lasted longer than ever, and we’re weathering it so well! The house is warm and comfortable, the stoves don’t have to work hard day and night, and we can spend the frigid days reading, painting, playing, planning, and baking – all yuletide-y and fun!
So what changed?
Well, primarily, our yurt is tighter and better insulated.
When we first put up the yurt, the outer skin was way too baggy – and I’ve noticed this in other yurts as well. Sometimes, your skin is not going to fit your lattice very well. Fix it before winter! We didn’t fix it until this last summer, because we were so busy with life and Seth’s work and we were just a bit lazy. But this summer, Seth slit the skin in two separate areas and glued it to fit the lattice. And it helps so much with keeping the warm air in and the mice out! We also re-adjusted the lattice and insulated some of the areas that were less weather-tight.
Essentially, we realized that since we are planning to keep the yurt as our home, instead of using it as some sort of transitional house, we should treat it like one. We aren’t living a nomadic life, and our yurt doesn’t need to be easy to tear down and put up. So seriously insulating has begun, and next year, we’re planning some additions too!
We also have a new door!
The door that came with the yurt was sub-par, and while we were able to make it work for 6 1/2 years – having a new, solid, exterior door is a life-changer! I love it.
Since we have livestock, we need access to lots of fresh, non-frozen water every day. More than just washing and drinking water for us, because those goats get thirsty! So we have a big, food-grade, metal barrel in the house. It used to store honey – mmmm, 55 gallons of honey, can you imagine!!! – now it stores our goat/chicken/dish/washing water. Not human drinking water, that’s stored in a bunch of empty wine jugs. So no matter how cold the night has been, our animals can start the day with warm, fresh water!
Our kids do actually get pretty stir-crazy in this weather! They’re used to being outside a lot, but when it’s this cold, they barely do more than walk to and from the outhouse. So inside life in one room gets a bit loud. I have remember to focus on being understanding and patient, and I try to give them some outlets for their energy. We do a lot of reading aloud, a lot of bouncing on beds and playing “the floor is lava” or “Buffy and She-ra” (seriously, they love being Buffy and She-ra!). We spend time baking and drawing and painting as well.
Making the house a fun place to be, makes staying inside so much way easier, on everyone!
We don’t go to parties right now, or if we do, one of us stays home to keep the house cozy while the other takes the kids and enjoys the fun! Because it’s just too cold right now to shut down the stoves and expect the house to stay warm.
If we had all the extra money to spend on extra yurt-insulation, we might not be fighting the weather so much, but we just have basic yurt insulation – and so we stay home in sub-zero temps. Believe me, it just isn’t fun to come home at night to a chilly house with tired kids and have to spend half the night getting it warm again! In ‘normal’ winter weather, parties are not a big deal, we can easily kick up the stove afterwards and have a cozy house within a few minutes. But in all these sub-zero nights with even colder wind-chills, we’ve learned to just say no.
So that’s how we’re getting through right now! Lots of firewood. Lots of staying up late and pulling icicles off the side of the house to throw in wintery cocktails. Lots of books and paints and lazy mornings..
I can’t wait until the weather turns into normal wintertime cold again, instead of the deep-cold; but thankfully, we’ve learned how to weather it well!