Yurt Years: Staying Warm (English)

Ava Missouri, December, 2000

Yurt in the Snow

Staying warm when living in a yurt is a constant battle. I always need to keep an eye on how much wood is left in the wood pile. If it has less than enough wood in it to keep us warm for 3-4 days, it’s time to get to work. Some people work a few hours every month to pay their heating bill. I work a few hours every month to gather fuel for the fire.

I gather my necessities: a very sharp bow saw for sawing the wood, a tarp to put the wood down on and drag it home on, and of course a small portable CD player to provide music to keep me motivated. Once I have all of those things together I put on my baby sling and put Daegan inside.


I head off into the woods toward a place where I saw a big standing dead tree. Once I get there, I put Daegan down on the ground to play a good distance from where I’m working. I put on some music, and push hard on the tree. It’s definitely dead but it’s slow to fall. I push harder and the top of the tree moves back and forth further and further until suddenly there’s a large cracking sound and the tree falls, the trunk breaking in three places. Daegan gets up from the rocks he was playing with to go check out the tree.

Daegan in the woods

Once it is down on the ground I start to cut it up. I start by removing the small branches from the top – these will be good for kindling. I pile these separately. Once those are gone, I saw off the larger branches and put them in a pile. To make them small enough to fit in the stove I hit them hard against the trunk of the tree. Because the wood is dead, many of them break easily. Daegan tries his hand at doing the same and manages to break a few himself. The rest I saw up with the bow saw.

Finally I saw the tree trunk into several pieces.These will have to be split with an axe later back at the yurt. With all of these cut up I load what I can on to a tarp, put Daegan back in the sling and we head back to the yurt. I will come back later for the rest.

I’ve spent an hour or two gathering wood. This gives me enough wood to heat the yurt for a week or so. In the end, it might take me more work than sitting in an office, than working to pay a heating bill would, but I am able to do it all with my son. This is a benefit hardly any job could give me.


5 thoughts on “Yurt Years: Staying Warm (English)

  1. In Oregon cutting down trees like that for fire wood was pretty common. Of course then we had to have green wood pile, medium dry wood pile and dry wood pile. Lovely picture of your son.

    1. Thanks – yes we had that sort of thing also though admittedly I managed wood like I managed money – only a few weeks of backlog!

      After a while I also began to really note preferences for various woods. Oak burned hot and slow but also made a bunch of creosote. Cedar smelled nice – better for fires for that reason and it would burn fast. Sassafras also burned really fast. Persimmon wood was really fragile. A log thicker than a baseball bat would easily break when you hit it against something. Do that with a black oak log of the same size and you would hurt your hands. Ask me how many times I did *that*. *laughing*

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