Defense against Maine winter

A common question (usually just before or just after asking where we go to the bathroom) is how we stay warm in this fabric yurt.  We had the answer to this before we even called the yurt company to place an order:  a wood stove.

It seemed the most logical, given that we can harvest and chop our own firewood, and we’d seen many yurts that had a wood stove in them so it must work.  Certainly it should also be straightforward to set one up if we just follow the directions….  Ha!  Attempting to do things yourselves sometimes feels like trying to get that first job, that frustrating cycle where they expect you to have experience but you need a job to get experience…  We took turns staring at the cryptic chimney installation directions for a yurt.  Yes, we could tell this looked like a wood stove and a chimney, but…

Why couldn’t we figure out what 6T-36 meant, or how to make two holes 8″ apart that didn’t collapse into one hole?  Weren’t we intelligent, resourceful people?  Mostly we were worried that there was something not clear in the directions that we should know and might miss.  We did the parts that DID make sense to us.  Like actually getting the wood stove – a Jotul Castine.  And chopping and stacking firewood.

And hauling out the enormous rock from the hole where the chimney support would need to go.

And then we just kept bringing furniture, dishes, clothing, etc. into the yurt, leaving the wood stove directions on the table and hoping the secret language of chimney installation would suddenly make sense to us.  It didn’t.  Thankfully, a translator arrived.

One of my sisters and her family decided to make the 5.5 hour drive up to see just what was going on with us in the backwoods of Maine.  I don’t think my brother-in-law even said hello before he was hopping onto the back of our truck and wrestling the wood stove into the yurt.

Both my father and my brother-in-law built their own homes and have been through these kinds of learning curves.  It is good to know that when we are really stuck we have these resources to help us navigate this road into figuring things out ourselves.

They spent the next several hours working on the installation, my brother-in-law passing on the knowledge and getting us that final step to where we could move in.

Including the unsettling moment when you actually have to cut a hole in the side of the yurt to put the flashing in.

When it was apparent there were enough hands and heads involved already, my sister and I and our children went off for a hike.

When we came back, smoke was coming out of the chimney that was now attached to our yurt…

Woo hoo!  Sometimes we can figure it out by researching and reading.  Other times it just makes the most sense to rely on someone who has already been through it.  As if we weren’t already thankful enough for these family members, we were so very grateful for them that weekend.

As mentioned before, we had another learning curve to settling in with the wood stove, beyond just keeping the wood burning at an appropriate level (something I’m still working on).  The firelight coming through the glass door at first woke us up and led to these kinds of grumpy early morning looks:

We adjusted and now it seems so natural to see the flickering light and hear the wood crackling as it burns.  Josh also gets up a few times each night to load the stove.  Even so, we usually go to bed quite hot and wake up a bit chilly.  Thankfully at some point in the night I end up with two more heat sources.

It is also an adjustment to get accustomed to not having static, constant heat in cold weather.  But one that again gets us more in tune with what is going on around us.  There is a rhythm (that Josh usually maintains) that must be kept going to keep the fire warming us.  We do not take our warmth for granted.

We’ve had one big snafu with the wood stove, during one of those early morning wood loads.  I could hear a crack and then Josh trying his best to keep from waking the children.  And got up to see this:

The glass had cracked when a log pushed against it as Josh was shutting the door.  Another learning experience as we figured out how to go get replacement glass and get the stove back and running again.  Two other families have since told us that they’ve had to replace their glass as well, some multiple times.  Here’s hoping that was a one and only for us!  At least we know how to go about fixing it if it does.

We came home this past weekend from Thanksgiving travels and the yurt was cold.  Very, very cold.  It had sat for three days without anyone tending the fire.  Without the fire, that thin layer of reflective insulation between the layers of the wall and the insulated deck do little to keep this space warm.  So we stayed bundled in our coats and found our slippers until the fire was roaring again.

It is a lot more work than our previous baseboard oil heat.  And yet it feels so much better in many ways.  The deep warmth it can provide.  The cycle of the trees being felled, stacked into beautiful piles and turned into our heat, instead of the other kind of cycle that oil heat entails…  It’s also a gathering spot, for morning snuggling, knitting, tower building, and what have you.

The chill outside has been steadily increasing these past few days, but we barely notice it inside by the fire, as long as we pay attention and tend to it.

With setup logistics figured out, it is now all up to us to stay warm!  And also warming to know that we have a bit more knowledge to take with us for when things circle back and we get to this point again, when one day we are setting up the chimney in our permanent home…

5 thoughts on “Defense against Maine winter

  1. Aw… LOVE it! I totally miss having a woodstove and my daughter said to me today “If Santa Claus were really real he’d bring us a woodstove!” Lol

  2. The defense VS a Maine winter in the woods is getting INTO and loving winter enough to be in relationship with her. Congratulations! You are well on your way. Great begining guys.

  3. That must have been a looong hike 🙂
    We’re getting much closer to the permit , and I’m starting to look at the specifics of putting a wood stove in. Buying the “stove flashing” option feels like a commitment, but I realize that’s the easiest part.
    One question – did you take any account of stove weight on any particular part of your deck?

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