Revealing the Circle
Building a Yurt in Northern Wisconsin
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts
of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die,
discover that I had not lived... I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; ...I
wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, ...to put to rout all that was not
life, ...and reduce it to its lowest terms.                                                             
  
Henry David Thoreau (Walden)
Check out the pictures of our wall tents too!
We lived like this as we built the yurt!
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September, 2003
Here's where it all began.  
There was one tree to cut
down, one stump to remove,
and one rock to move.  The
center of the circle was
marked and we were off on
our yurt building adventure!
We flagged where each
footer would go, then
made a string grid to
line them all up.  The
strings were attached
to pins in the ground
and followed a straight
line marking the exact
future location of the
timber supports placed
4 feet apart.
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We used a homemade water
level to make triple sure each
one was level with the others
and then started attaching
timbers to the tops of each
row of legs.
We live in a 30' diameter owner-designed and built yurt that was an
adventure-and-a-half to build!  These pictures, and the accompanying
captions, give you the story of the construction of the yurt we call home.  
The story certainly has its share of successes as well as challenges, as does
every good tale!  You're welcome to come along on the journey with us as we
share some of the highlights.
You can either look at the yurt pictures first or check out the tent-living
pictures of us as we were building our new home.
We did not want to create
permanent concrete footers
because the yurt may be moved
in the future and we did not want
to eliminate the possibility of
this site being used for other
purposes.  Yet we wanted to keep
the structure from frost heaving
so we did not disturb the ground
underneath.  We instead buried
the footers above grade with
both cob and soil.
The footers (a
combination of cinder
blocks, pier blocks and
our own homemade
hybrid of the two)
were set on the
ground over each pin.  
We discovered later
that because we set
them on the ground
(tamping the soil first)
the tall ones tended
to wobble.  We
remedied the
oversight by burying
them in cob
(sand/clay/straw
mixture).
We refer to the 4x4 posts
resting on the footers and
supporting the 4x6 timbers as
"legs".  Each one of the legs had
to be cut to the exact length to
make the whole structure level.  
They also had to somehow be
attached to both the footer and
the timber to tie the structure
together and anchor the yurt to
the ground without being in the
ground.
October 12th, 2004