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Experiences Erecting a Yurt
Two can do it!

Ansgar and Tanja Heyer have erected an original mongolian yurt from our first transport in their garden in the bavarian Ammer Valley.
Ansgar kindly sent us an illustrated report of their experiences:

The Location of the Yurt

Our garden runs down a quite noticeable slope (ca. 10%). This kept me away from the temptation to set the yurt directly on the lawn, and I had to think about ways to better prepare the building site.

Various possibilities were available:

Heap up normal garden soil.
On normal soil, the rainwater would not drain immediately, which might have led to "running water" in the yurt at times of rain - unsuitable.
Erection of a wooden deck.
A very attractive possibility. Disadvantages were the high costs, and the constant knowledge about creepy-crawly visitors below the yurt.
Cast a concrete platform.
Maybe acceptable for many - but not for us. Concrete is hard, cold, and made for eternity, but not for a nomad's tent...
Excavate the ground and fill the place up with mulch or fine gravel.
In our nature-orientated garden the first choice! Unfortunately mulch will settle with time, doesn't offer a planar surface, and presents certain dangers when operating the stove. Fine gravel is cheap, but also packs very densely, so that I wasn't sure if it would offer enough drainage.
In my opinion the ideal solution: Excavate the floor (min. 30cm) and fill with fine broken gravel.

Of course, you con't really need to set yourself the goal of doing everything manually... I had designed and worked the rest of the garden all by myself up to this point, but I don't think I would try this part again: Move about 8 tons of soil by wheelbarrow, and then fill the space with 30 tons of fine gravel over several weeks... Quite a few times I felt that the work would never end - on the other hand there's also an incredible satisfaction in continuing the remaining work on this place that I created with my own hands.

Assembly of the Yurt

I actually thought it would be much more complicated! In my opinion, you'd have to be at least four people and would need a full weekend, but my wife and I together took only a total of about 6 hours. And we were doing it for the first time in our lifes. We used 3 hours for the frame on a friday (until it became too dark), and another 3 hours the following saturday for the cover. The interior decoration (laying out the carpet, placing the furniture, etc.) isn't included in those 6 hours, though.

But two people assembling a yurt should definitively be a good team! And at least one of them should be tall and sturdy enough to hold the center poles with the crown, while the partner fixes the roof poles. Everything should be done with lots of feeling! Normally my motor activity is rather coarse, but it takes little time to recognize: Brute force is the wrong tool almost everywhere! And hectical activity will not make anything easier!

The video, the images, and the descriptions by Chuluun-Erdene Sosorbaram were completely sufficient for us to assemble the yurt.
(Note by the webmaster: The video is available on request.)

Some Tips from our Experience

What do you need a yurt for, if you're not a nomad in Mongolia?

This question almost answers itself, once you're sitting in a yurt yourself! But unfortunately only few Europeans have this possibility...

Of course you don't need a yurt!
You don't need it exactly as you don't need a garden!
You don't need it exactly as you don't need a good glass of red wine!
You don't need it exactly as you don't need the 5 minutes it takes to quietly watch a sunset.

But if you can imagine how great it is to sit in the garden with a glass of red wine, quietly enjoying the sunset, then you can also imagine why you "need" a yurt.

My work is currently engaging me very much, and I started to feel a slight amount of stress. Of the yurt I hoped that it would bring me at least a little bit of relaxation? Reality exceeded this expectaion by a huge margin!

The feeling of sitting in a yurt is very different from the feeling of sitting both in a tent or in a massive house! You are sitting in fresh air, and notice even strong wind only because the smoke exhaust pipe vibrates a little bit. The circular shape makes you feel very sheltered. It is fascinating to be surrounded by this ingeniously simple, hand made structure, which basically only consist of natural materials: Wood and felt (and a little cotton). There are no screws and no nails - all together you may find about 200g of metal in a yurt - the door hinges and a few hooks. Everything is connected by ropes - some of them braided from horse hair.

And it is a wonderful experience to cook on the yurt stove! If you like cooking with a wok, you'll be delighted! The strong and fast head can't be reached with any heating plate or gas stove. And with the open crown the steam can escape without a problem.

Images and text of this page Copyright 2005 Ansgar Heyer, translated from German by Georg Mischler