Sunday, June 3, 2012

Assembling the Yurts

Sorry you had to wait an extra day or two for a new post - we have the yurts up! It was two days of sweating, cursing, head scratching, and crippling exertions - but they are finished, and they look really great!

Yesterday Grandpa and I hopped to it, loading up all the yurt parts, and heading to the work site.

Of course, for the superstitious, one would have taken a hint from what happened within the first few moments... Suddenly the dump lock on my trailer released, dumping all of our parts out right in front of my in-laws' house as we passed by. Amazingly, Donna was there to take a photo of our predicament. Uncanny luck, wasn't it?

We unloaded, used an old piece of wire to secure the lock, and reloaded our frames. Donna was still trying to get Kenny in gear to visit, while Grandpa and I started assembly. Mummu was gracious enough to snap a few photos as we began.

I think we did rather well. I followed instructions as per the video, manual, and my memory of our trip to Yurta to put up our thirteen foot frame. It went up quite nicely, and with a bit of thought as to which way the doors would open, we had the door and coupler on.

Then we set up the larger yurt. This went much the same as with the thirteen footer, except everything was heavier, and larger. Once it was up, we installed the door, and then had to get it attached to the other yurt.

As they were about a foot apart, it was now time to move the floor of the smaller yurt over to the larger. We hooked up my winch cable and comealong to a nearby tree, wrapped it around the floor, and on to a stump on the far side. With Grandpa adjusting the beams and Kenny winching, we brought the two floor surfaces into contact. The coupler attached to both yurts well, and we were feeling good.

Kenny really pitched in, handing us felt hanger sticks, and ensuring that the floors were well swept!

Next we started on the felt. We realized soon that it was slightly confusing, as Yurta had assumed that we would use the coupler as a door, and the door as a coupler, on both yurts, and had labelled the felt accordingly. For the past two days we have had to always remember to substitute one word for the other.

The felt was a little more tricky to install. The velcro bars that hung on the cable around the perimeter of the roof rotated or fell off as we tried to apply the walls. Even now I still have to adjust them, and find that they seem to settle back afterwards.

We did get it though so I went back up through the centre ring to collect the felt roof. Grandpa pushed it up along a rafter, and between Grandpa, Donna and I, we managed to flip it all out and get it into position. Next was the roof canvas... It was tight and sweaty work getting it adjusted, but we managed. Finally we went with the walls. That's where we ran into one of our real puzzlers... We rolled the wall around from the edge of the door, to the coupler, and that's where we realized that the zipper for the wall went OVER the coupler, which was fine, but at the same time, there was a rope that was to go UNDER the coupler, and both of these were attached to the remaining section of wall that continued after the coupler.

After some thought, we opted to remove the rope, and re-install it after throwing the remaining wall over the coupler.

This went better than it could have, but it did take up precious time. It became obvious that we were way overly optimistic to think we could have both yurts up in a day!

About this point, Grandpa decided to call it a day, and I began to try to tuck the canvas in around the doors.

After a bit of this work, I decided to try looking out one of our windows. It was at this point that I noticed that the felt and the canvas didn't line up at the windows. Sigh. We carefully created a "loop" of velcro along the top of the wall and worked it sideways to get the felt wall and canvas wall to align properly around the window.

We headed back to Grandpa and Mummu's house, where we barbequed up some hamburgers for supper. This seemed to improve everyone's spirits and energy levels. Donna and I returned to the yurts, where we finished bolting down the brackets using threaded rod and nuts, and then I tensioned down the canvas fabric. We tied a rope to the dome, and without further delay, pulled it up, and placed it into its brackets.

It had been a long day. We cleaned up briefly, and headed back to the house for the night.

This morning we started a little later. Kenny had his morning telephone call with Nana and Papa. He was really chatty! It was nice to listen in a little bit, and try to know what the conversation was about based on his responses. His telephone manners have improved dramatically as he has gotten older and more articulate.

We sure expected today to go smoothly. We had experienced all the problems we could imagine on the day before. Of course, life throws you curves all the time, doesn't it?

We started carefully with the felt. This time exercising extra caution, we made sure the windows were properly aligned with the frames, so that when the canvas went up, it would automatically be all oriented together. In this picture, right where Grandpa's hand is, a mouse had "borrowed" a small patch of our felt while it was in storage in the woodshed... Luckily the felt overlaps in this spot, so there was minimal loss to our insulation - but a cautionary tale to others who have to store their yurts before assembly!

The felt walls went great. Then came time to do the felt roof. It was heavy. Sinfully heavy. We tried the recommended method of sliding it up a rafter from the outside, but that wasn't to be. We were too far off the ground without a platform. We brought the felt inside, where I hoisted it up to the centre ring, and then Grandpa and Donna, using sticks, directed it up onto the rafters. We worked hard, very hard, spreading it out. We got close, and then I began to try to pull it up and over my head to cover the other side. That's when I realized that it had been folded and sent to us inside out! Augh! That was frustrating! We puzzled for a few moments to cool down, and then I managed to grab the bottom edge, drag it up to the centre ring, and right over and down the far side. Problem solved. We poked, prodded, twisted and grunted, and managed to get the roof felt all arranged and looking rather sharp in the end.

We had opted to save a bit of money by having Yurta use up some spare felt, so they made our roof from two different wool lots. One from dark sheep, and one from light... They alternated these lots in quarter sections, so the roof looked great with a star or cross pattern.

Next was the roof canvas. I was reminded to keep the drawstrings above the door - which in this case we did, without substituting "coupling" for "door" - as the cleats for the strings were on the door frame.

Then came time for the wall - ack! Another problem! The zipper was designed to start at the door, go a short distance to the coupling, then up and over, and around to the far side of the door again. That would be great, except we had switched the door and coupling. Fine, we would start at the coupling, then past the door, then back around to the coupling. Except that the roof was already aligned to the door as the starting point. (I'm sorry if this sounds confusing, but imagine trying to figure this out with heavy, akward parts in your hands and time and patience running thin.)

We twisted and turned the roof canvas to align with the coupler instead. But now the drawstring ropes were above the coupling, and the cleats were above the door! I had to remove the cleats from the door, and try to install them on the coupling, where I had precious little room. Luckily, my mini ratchet set was handy, and I was able to use it to drive in the four screws.

With the roof re-aligned, we were able to put up the wall with more grunting and groaning. On the plus side, we were able to easily pass the zipper over the door and the rope under it, as it wasn't really an obstacle the way the coupler with a second yurt attached was.

Of course, now we had to operate a tension strap from between the floor surfaces. It was difficult, but we managed.

I returned to the ladder, and in the same manner as yesterday, we pulled the dome up to the ring and installed it in the brackets. This was actually one of the most rewarding and simple parts of the entire endeavour.

As always, it was a challenge to tuck the canvas in around the coupler and doors, but at least we knew the general idea, and were prepared for the stress of doing so. Even with advance expectations, I could still feel frustration growing. Luckily we broke for lunch. Maybe we will have to remember that in the future. Take a break when things start to really get to you.

When we returned, we knew we were really in the home stretch. Grandpa prepared more threaded rod, which Donna and I used to anchor down every bracket in the large yurt.

With the brackets bolted to the floor, we ratcheted down the outer walls, tightened the hem, and then began rolling up the windows. It was really exciting and interesting to see the windows open. There was so much light and breeze. It is really, really nice.

Tonight we returned to sweep floors and adjust the interior felt. Our spirits were very much renewed. It was a very long haul to work out the bugs and get things together the way we wanted, but at last they are. I'm really hoping to be sleeping there tomorrow night now!

Grandpa has declared that he will make celebratory pancakes for breakfast - and that he'll also head out to see if he can't repeat his fishing success of last week.




Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, And while my trials were pretty small, my blessings have been many.

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