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Yurt / Ger Diary

written by Rene K. Mueller, Copyright (c) 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, last updated Sat, January 3, 2015

8. 1. 2008: Sunny January Day

Last night we had below 0°C, partially frozen ground and ice areas where yesterday evening still rainwater remained - cloudless day then. Inside the yurt 10°C climbing to 17.4°C, outside 5-6°C in the shade, 10-15°C in the sunshine. Sunset around 16:30 again - around 18:00 still 17°C.

7. 1. 2008: Milder, Rain & Sunshine

Sunset of 7th January 2008
Just for sake of having written this down, today outside 8°C, intense rain, melting the rest of the snow away finally. Inside the yurt 17.6°C 15:00, warmed up despite covered sky and rain - very interesting. So, even beginning of January, with 8°C outside one can dwell in a yurt without firing the stove, this in Switzerland, central Europe.

Near sunset around 16:30 the brief direct sunlight increased the temperature to 19.3°C inside even, yet 19:00 I fired the stove to have it cozy again.

Wood Usage Comparison

The farmer nearby, who rented me some of his land, told me they used 3 boxes of wood a day to fire their two stoves, total area 3 floors each 70m2, whereas I used 2/7 boxes a day (2 boxes in a week) the two last colder weeks, the yurt 32m2. The farmer yet admited, they heat to 23°C at evenings, not just 20°C - and the house is really bad insulated, and is occupied by 4 people currently, but have been 6 people in the past. Since the house isn't heated entirely but only partially, I also list 50% of the house as well:

Comparing wood/m2 (disregarding amount of people occupying the space):

  • House: 3 boxes / 210m2 = 0.014 boxes/m2 = 100%
  • House 50%: 3 boxes / 105m2 = 0.028 boxes/m2 = 200%
  • Yurt: 2/7 boxes / 32m2 = 0.0089 boxes/m2 = 62.5%

Comparing wood/person (disregarding space):

  • House w/ 6 persons: 3 boxes / 6 person = 0.5 = 100%
  • House w/ 4 persons: 3 boxes / 4 person = 0.75 = 150%
  • Yurt w/ 1 person: 2/7 boxes / person = 0.285 = 57%


I use 1/3 to 2/3 of wood comparing the wood per m2, or 1/2 to 1/3 of wood per person disregarding the space.

He uses up to 1 ster wood (16-17 boxes, 1m3 loose wood, ~0.75m3 compact wood) per week, whereas I expect 1.5-2 ster for the entire winter (Nov-Mar, 5 months), which means max 2 sters per winter for me in the yurt, and him and his family apprx. 20 sters, 10 times more - but keeping in mind they are 4 persons, and having apprx. 6 times more space, yet not sure how much space is actually heated.

5. 1. 2008: Adding PVC Layer to Seal Wall Rain Cover

Brittle PE wall cover (slightly darker, speak wet, areas near the bottom)
The rain wall cover, the PE (polyethylen) is no longer sealing off the rain water at 1/5 of the bottom, as you can see on the photo. This means, the PE is brittle a bit, sufficient in order to maintain to become itself soaked, and leak rain water, not much but sufficient to have a significant leak and wet the wall straw insulation I have.

Conclusion: the roof PE last 12-16 months, whereas the wall PE lasts 24-28 months - it's 120g/m2 lightweight PE I use(d).

I tend to use tight woven canvas for rain- and sunshades for the rain wall cover, and add heavier PE (220g/m2 or so) at the last 1/4 or 1/5 of the height for the next yurt. This upgrade either comes in spring once I dislocated and pitch the yurt again.

Brittle PE Wall Cover

Here a few closeup of the PE cover, after 27 months in use:

Example brittle PE, wall cover (1)
2008/01/05 11:22
Example brittle PE, wall cover (2)
2008/01/05 11:22
Example brittle PE, wall cover (3)
2008/01/05 11:22
Example brittle PE, wall cover (4)
2008/01/05 11:23

The first two photos show likely a fabrication error in the waving, the spacing of the brittle is unusual large, the other two photos show the usual brittle all over the wall cover.

Adding PVC sublayer to seal brittle PE wall cover
I could not add PVC extension all around the yurt, as the hill side still has frozen snow despite the mild temperatures, and I couldn't pull wall cover up to add the extension, will do this later. It's interesting to see that the side I sleep and work but also the part the sunlight never reaches is also the side with most brittle parts, which implies that the humidity from inside and being in the shade for the last 27 months added obviously to the brittle process.

I still will use PE as roof rain cover for the future, even it only lasts 12 months, but the advantage of sliding snow is convincing, for the wall I will look for another material, and then decide to keep going with PE or another material. Using a more breathable material than PE for the wall would allow humidity to transpire from inside to outside better, without paying so much attention to regularly freshing the air by opening the skylight or door and thereby also allow humidity to escape the inside of the yurt.

The last few days we had föhn again, a warmer wind coming from south - 6°C outside today, inside 12.5°C without firing the stove. Later in the afternoon rain is expected, also for the next few days.

Few Impressions of First Days in 2008

Afternoon 3rd January 2008
2008/01/03 15:57
Afternoon 3rd January 2008
2008/01/03 15:58
Yurt in Sunset of 3rd January 2008
2008/01/03 16:30
Sunset of 3rd January 2008
2008/01/03 16:31

29. 12. 2007: Cold Nights, Moderate Warm Days

Afternoon of 29th December 2007
Finally the weeks with fogs seems to end, and night with -8°C, and at day almost reaching 10°C in the sun, and the ice crystals melting away. In the morning 3°C in the yurt, after firing the stove heated up to 18°C and sunlight increased it to 20°C.

A quick look on wood usage, I used up 8 boxes of wood so far for this winter season, the last two weeks I used 4 boxes - (1 box ~ 1/17 ster, whereas 1 ster ~ 0.75m3 wood), in other words, instead 1 box per week I use 2 boxes now.

2007/12/29 15:52
2007/12/29 15:53
2007/12/29 15:53
2007/12/29 15:54

21. 12. 2007: December Solstice

I hoped to make a photo of the early sunset yesterday afternoon, but I'm in fog and today this half hour the sun could penetrate I took the photo - and small ice crystals growing from my rain cover due the fog.

Afternoon of 22nd December 2007

World Sunlight Map 22nd December 2007

The last weeks I spent most of the time in the yurt, and this meant often also to fire the stove almost the entire day and evening too. I took the time to make more jam again, some more unusual mixtures like ananas with ginger and a bit kurkuma, kiwi with kardamon, among the more common mixtures like plum or apple with cinnamon, delicious!

18. 12. 2007: Colder & More Wood Burning

The last days have been below 0°C all day long, with partially covered sky. I use more wood for heating the yurt, instead of 1 box now 1.5 to 2 boxes a week (17 boxes = 1 ster = 0.75m3 wood).

The insulation only slowly dries, the newspaper I used to soak the water has captured some. I likely require to repeat this procedure a few times until the straw insulation has dried.

16. 12. 2007: Drying Insulation

Wet insulation (seen from outside)
My first attempt is to use old newspaper to stuff at the bottom of the thermal straw insulation, to soak the water from the ground and the insulation, keep it for 1-2 days and remove it and hope it is dry enough. If it doesn't help, I will let the entire yurt cool off for 24 hours to below zero, and hope all wetness has evaporated. Let's see.

Only 3m long section of the wall leaked, and part is already frozen - other part of the wall rain cover is buried under hard snow. I won't tie the rain wall cover so tightly the next 2-3 nights so cold air can reach the wet parts and dry it, additionally to the newspapers.

15. 12. 2007: Wet Straw Insulation

Wet straw insulation due leaks in rain wall cover
My straw-based insulation has become wet due the last week intensive rain, and the obvious leaks of my outer wall rain cover - I noticed a bit water leaking inside the yurt from the wall on the floor, but it wasn't first obvious to me maybe larger parts leaked but did not reach inside the yurt. And the worst somehow has happened, larger parts of the wall rain cover is leaking near bottom at the floor, and sufficient water has entered my straw insulation, which has soaked the bottom of the insulation and the wooden floor is still wet after days of no rain.

Fortunately it's cold now, and -4 to -8°C last night and tonight, and I'm thinking of letting the entire yurt cool down to 0°C or even more in order to dry the insulation. Additional I have to fix the leak in case it warms again and more rain is occuring. I still have plenty double layered bubblewrap available which I will use to cover the insulation just over the wall/floor junction, where the wall rain cover has leaks.

The last night has been cold, apprx. -4°C and a bit of wind, in the sun this afternoon it maybe reached 12°C so I could sit outside with a t-shirt. After sunset the temperature drops immediately, the air is dry and below 0°C again.

2007/12/13 14:20
2007/12/13 14:21
2007/12/15 13:52

12. 12. 2007: Winter & Snow Back

Winter & Snow is Back
Yesterday evening it started to snow, quite wet and therefore heavy snow, and it snowed through the night - apprx. 10cm and the bamboo roof poles bending, and this morning continued to snow.

I partially cleared the roof, especially the attached room which has not that steep roof and therefore must be cleared manually, otherwise the snow slides down by itself - unless, there are ropes stretching over the roof as mentioned earlier, which I still had.

You may notice the wet parts of the PE rain cover on the wall near the bottom, compared to other photos of the yurt from two weeks ago. The 3-4 days rain and the brittle parts of the wall rain cover (PE) soaked water, and partially leaked rain inside the yurt as mentioned in the previous entry.

10. 12. 2007: Rainy Days, Dry Door, Rain Leaks in the Wall

The recent days have been wet, lot of rain through the days and nights - the ground is soaked, typical fall weather - some fall winds and minor storms again, but just for 1-2 hours. The new extension of the roof over the door works very well, the wooden step in front is soaked, yet, the door is dry - as well the door frame is dry. The last door I replaced due the frame adjustment due ropes pulling (outer main rain cover, which this time did not attach to the frame direct, but made a knot from rope end to rope end) and door frame junction on the ground catching water, and compromise the fixation. I hope to fix the old door in order to reuse it again.

Some of the wall rain cover shows leaks, on the bed side some water has leaked from the wall/floor junction, but with heating up the yurt quickly evaporated. Interestingly enough the rain wall cover is almost straight outside, with no wrinkles - so it's time to replace the rain wall cover as well next spring, after two year usage. It looks like the leak is where the rain wall cover (PE) folds over the floor, maybe some softer edge might have done better for the cover.

In general, I'm still very pleased with the current setup, I heat the stove twice a day now, in the morning once, the heat last til sunset (17:00), and depending of temperature outside I additionally heat it again 19:00 for a short time. The last days the temperature outside was 6-8°C outside, so the temperature inside the yurt was 12-13°C all morning until I fire the stove again.

3. 12. 2007: Second Fall/Winter Storm

World Sunlight Map 3rd December 2007
Tonight we had the 2nd stronger storm of the fall/winter season - up to 200km peak on the mountains, yet, where I am maybe 100km at maximum, at 5:00 in the morning.

The additional thermal insulation segments seem to have balanced the roof further, so the crown-wheel neither the roof really has really shaken. The rain cover has been fasten with additional cords, the only place the wind could enter was to the attached room, and lift up a bit the rain cover.

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