The journey of 2021 was full of uncertainty. One of our techniques for forging ahead was to create a new space, off-grid. We erected a yurt, up a mountain in Montana, only a short drive from our home.
We never dreamed everything would fall into place this quickly. It all just did. I did a lot of manifesting.
We invested in this unlisted property, exactly one year ago. Oddly, this date coincides with a FIVE year celebration of Coming Up Rainbows. We’d been looking around Montana for a few years for some acreage. We had another place under contract at one point, but it was 3+ hours away. Patience paid off and this magical spot fell into our world. A favorite friend of mine, who happens to be a realtor, knew it was kooky and strange enough that we’d probably dig it. She was right. She patiently trekked around the 17+ acres with us in knee-deep snow on January 9, 2021. We closed on Jan 25, 2021. We didn’t waste any time. And, in spite of exorbitant real estate prices right now, this spot was too good to be true.
This yurt isn’t just for us. It is for our friends/family and will be the future home of retreats, CUR classes, and memory-making for years to come.
We spent nearly every weekend driving back and forth last winter to snowshoe, and xc ski with our kids and friends. We’d dig out the snow and build a tiny fire to eat our sack lunch around, après ski. We dreamed about warming soup on a cookstove and spending the night. *Skiing two days in a row!* One year later, that dream is a reality.
The plot of land is an old mining claim called Sovereign Lode. The road that accesses it is county road for a mile or two and then unmaintained. BUT, our off-grid neighbors have big machines and take the best care of the road. Because of these resourceful neighbors, we are able to drive our Subaru up the road, with studded snow tires. We’ve met nearly everyone on (our side of) the mountain in the past year.
February brought our first chainsaw. Since we have thousands of trees under our care, we obviously needed a chainsaw. So many of those trees need to come down. Luckily they will serve another purpose, they will heat the yurt, and make glorious campfires.
The Other Seasons
Spring and summer brought unveiling, planning, and countless trips up the mountain. We’d never seen what was beneath the snow. It was like opening a gift each time we drove to the Lode.
I kept envisioning a yurt, but I wasn’t exactly sure why. I guess it felt more attainable than a cabin, for people that aren’t builders. (We did build a lot of shit this past year though, you’ll see!) After watching hours of YouTube videos about people building and living in yurts, I easily swayed Shane down the yurt path. We toured Shelter Designs, a local yurt building company. Isn’t it rad we have a yurt building company right where we live? We looked at all of the options and specs that a yurt could offer, and reserved our picks for windows, fabric, and wood in April. I’m glad we took the plunge then because during this pandemic, a lot of people decided to build yurts. In fact, they stopped taking orders shortly thereafter because they had almost 80 to build.
We took our trusty Honeybee up on May 1st, as soon as the snow was melted enough to attempt the climb. We spent our first night at ‘the Lode’, and woke up to this.
It really didn’t take long to learn you have to respect the mountain, and be prepared for surprises. The weather is different at 5200 feet, much more unpredictable. Other thoughts now cross my mind like, if we get hurt the hospital is a bit further away. And, a trip to the hardware store for a screw takes a few hours, not ten minutes. In spite of these extra thoughts, there have been days I go up and down the mountain three times.
We found a contractor to help us build the yurt, recommended by Shelter Designs. JW, seasoned in the art of erecting off-grid yurts, was an invaluable resource through this project.
The first day he came to see the space he told us we’d need to take some trees down. If they fell on their own, they’d fall right on the build site. It just so happens, we have a friend that is an arborist.
Which leads me to… how much help we’ve had from our family and friends through this adventure, and how we would never be here without them. This space is a safe space for everyone to gather, because we are outside, or in our own tents, campers and busses. We share a lot on Instagram #sovereignlode if you haven’t shared the space with us yet, in person. Our YouTube channel has a few videos to tide you over, we’ll share there too.
It would be impossible to fit this entire project into one blog post. So, I have a series of posts I’ll to do on this off-grid build and alternative living. I will slowly share the tools we use, the gadgets we’ve acquired, and the process of unfurling this piece of magical land. I’ll cover the following topics (in no particular order):
- The shitter and composting toilet
- The lumber and framing (mostly from our friends at Heritage Timber)
- The furnishings (mostly from Donation Warehouse and Home Resource)
- The wood stove and stovepipe
- The loft and stairs
- Power and water in an off-grid location
- The excavation and DMC blocks
- The SIPS floor and Yurt construction
- The plant life – check our upcoming classes onsite
Our 2022 Classes
This yurt build has been my part-time job for the past several months, so I’m attempting to get back on track. Regarding those classes (in #9), unfortunately, not all of them will be onsite at the yurt. We’ll mostly have virtual courses with options to purchase additional materials. Here is our rough course list for 2022: Essential Oils Made Simple (already available), Teens and Tweens safe products and applications, Kids and Wellness, Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum, Earth-Friendly Green Cleaning, Hormone Love, Giant Hug – your Emotional Wellbeing, Catch Some Zzzzs, Gut Love, & Immune Support. We’ll share class dates in our newsletters and on our social media platforms. If you subscribe you’ll always be notified.
Well wishes into this brand new year and I hope you’re tracking down your certainties. xo