The Mythical State of Jefferson

I have not forgotten you, Gentle Reader, indeed quite the contrary.  My intention is to write about this entire …..experience.  A Cautionary Tale of Sorts.  However until most recently the quotidian demands have been daunting to say the least.  Take today.  I had A Plan, having gotten through three items on my to-do list yesterday and clearing one from the week prior the day before.  Oh yes.  I was going to Start Writing.  Until:

Problem A.  Among the many other joys we’ve experienced in our stay here, are absolute masses of ants.  Living on a flat treeless spot as we do, we’re basically on a vast plain if you’re viewing it from ant level.  And these are not the small, reasonably well behaved ants you find in metropolitan areas.  No, these suckers are almost 3/4 inch long, smell….and sally forth to do battle with the other Ant Clans.  I suspect warring clans because the ants are different and on the occasions they’ve been sweeping around one can clearly see different points of ingress to the field of battle.  Anyway, their favorite time til now has been around 3 a.m., when their initial sally into the yurt typically commences by their crawling across our bed.  And Thus, Us.  So we’ve been doing the ant thing for, it seems like, aeons.  It ties into the other problem which has dwarfed all others, how to keep this thing cool, but that is another part of the story.

This morning suddenly the yurt was beseiged by ants.  We figure they’re coming in to cart away all the fly carcasses (another fun thing since we live next to a horse corral) but in any event it took the usual epic struggle to wrestle this particular incursion to the ground.  After which, mopping our brows what do we find but: A frog.  In the yurt. Who promptly hopped out of sight and we hope doesn’t die alone and hidden and emit a horrible stench when we can’t find the little corpse.  Anyway that took some time and while I was, indeed, thinking of witty ways to describe The Situation, it still took time.  And then, there is

Problem B.  Keeping the Yurt Cool.  Yurts are heat sinks which no one really tells you straight out at the beginning.  They are truly wonderful but if you’re going to live someplace where it gets above 80 degrees f? Don’t do it.  So. The average temperature here has been 111 degrees farenheit for over a month.  (Which is about 42 degrees centigrade, by the by). We had been hosing the yurt down to cool it and stopped because we thought that was attracting the ants.  Discovering that to not be the case, we finally got an oscillating lawn sprinkler to use which provided substantial relief.  I recommend it, actually.  So we had two or three days without the normal feeling of  have-I-died-and-gone-to-Hell-without-knowing? , until this morning.  When, we find we don’t have enough water pressure to power the (small, mind you) oscillating lawn sprinkler.  Instead the water comes through the window and not over the roof, floods the area around the yurt and, in the bargain, doesn’t cool it off.  This has pretty much been the story, with varying Dramatis Thingumae, since Day One.

Some not inconsiderable relief has been provided by Jefferson Public Radio, which is located in the mythical state of Jefferson which is somewhere apparently not all that far from here.  I might have gone irrevocably nuts without this station, because otherwise?  Hollyville/Nashwood country music, rock stations that play the same play list overandoverandoverand…and, delightfully, Christian religious stations on one of which I heard a sprightly female voice come on after a musical interlude, saying, Now, you should picture YOUR face on Jesus’ crucified body.  (Given my current circumstances I actually don’t have too much trouble doing that but it is not what one wishes to listen to, just in general.)  Somehow it just seemed a bit much.  I hadn’t realized how much some intelligent commentary and actual MUSIC, country included, could mean.  Almost everything, turns out.

So.  As I said, I have plans to write about this because as wacky as it may seem, it is a tale with Broader Implications.  Now, on to check the water pressure.  See you shortly……..

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jonathan on July 22, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Hi there,

    It’s too bad it’s been so hot inside your yurt! I’m happy to pass along some tips I’ve learned. First off, your manufacturer could have done a better job suggesting alternative components based on the location of the yurt (such as a tinted dome). By now it’s a little late to swap out your dome without spending a chunk of change, so I would suggest finding some shade cloth with a 70% or higher shade factor (try http://www.shadeclothstore.com), cutting it into a circle the diameter of your center ring, and tacking it up. This will dramatically cut down on the radiant heat transfer taking place through your skylight. I do work for a modern yurt manufacturer (but not the one that made your yurt) and we typically recommend building your yurt in a place on your property that has at least partial if not full shade. The yurt is a tent-like structure and installing a thick layer of traditional insulation will take away from the aesthetic value of the lattice wall, and particularly fiber-glass batting could lead to potential moisture problems down the road. It sounds like your yurt does get hit with a lot of intense sunlight, and you probably don’t feel like moving your yurt anytime soon, so i would look into the following ideas:

    Installing vents in your flooring will let the cool air under your yurt in.
    Investing in a solar ceiling fan underneath your dome will push the warm air up and out.
    Building a trellis can provide enough shade for the southern side of your yurt to make a big difference.
    Installing a screen door can increase ventilation and keep the yurt cooler.
    Again, installing shade cloth with a HIGH shade factor under your center ring will definitely help.

    As for the ants, you might want to reinforce some of the fabric connections with weather-stripping, particularly behind your valance and at the bottom where your side cover attaches to your drip edge. Of course, there is no such thing as an ant-proof structure of any kind, but you might be able to make a big dent in the number of ants making it in. Happy yurting!

    -Jonathan

    Reply

    • Thanks for your comment! We did, in fact, install shade cloth in the dome. It helps to a, forgive me, degree. We also have fans. Shade is clearly a must and we don’t have any so there it is. We’re working on shade cloth outside all around the yurt (love the website you mentioned), as we are on a pretty much straight up directional axis dead on. Weather stripping on the bottom edge might be an excellent idea, and thank you for that! We keep a wetted reed mat over the door, cold cloths on everything……glad to see we’re covering the bases anyway. I do love living in a yurt….just, perhaps, not in this climate. I have become WAY less than thrilled with my manufacturer through this experience but I still love my yurt!

      Reply

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