March 2014

Last year, we noticed the floor of “Mustardseed”, one of the two family yurts in écovallée, pulling apart. It didn’t seem to be going back together on its own, so we waited for a dry spell and decided to have a really good look.

This is what we found:

yurt joists 1

The two short joists by the door had been pivoting on their screws and lifting the floor, which explains why the door was catching on the boards at that point. It did seem strange.

yurt joists 2

Several of the screws had sheared off, and parts of the frame had moved several inches. Which explains why the floor was so gappy. I imagine this is because I was using green (freshly cut) wood (douglas fir), which tightened up and snapped the screws. (A carpenter might have a view on this.) This choice of wood was driven by necessity and habit – necessity because we didn’t have much money at the time and the wood was cheap, and habit because this is how I’d done it before. (I won’t be doing it like this again.)

yurt joists 3

The ground was very cracked – and this may have led to some of the movement and shearing.

yurt joists 4

Some of the frame wasn’t even attached any more. I used that crowbar to lift the floorboards, which all came up easily. I numbered them and stacked them nearby for re-laying.

yurt floor

Which shows just how portable a yurt camp can be (which could come in useful if we ever decide to relocate).

The weather’s holding, so I’ll be taking the joist frame apart and making a new one. Using shop-bought joists. Based on my 12-foot yurt joist frame. There’ll be a ramp this time and it will be even more beautiful than before. Which is one of the other benefits of doing something more than once – it gets better every time.

At this time of year, this is one of the sounds we love to live with.

Confusing, in the first two years, it was. But all was revealed in its own good time. I’ll get round to scripting these videos one of these days. But you get to watch this before all that. Enjoy.


Spring always arrives too soon – and not soon enough.

Too soon, because we’ve got huge amounts of work to do before the écovallée yurt camp opens again at the end of May.

And not soon enough, because only a polar bear would want to live in winter forever. Not that we’ve had a real winter – just a few months of wet weather and no leaves on the trees.

As always, we’re behind on planting, although this new feature should help extend the growing season:

seed tray

It’s a seedling warmer made from pallets I was allowed to take from the local hardware store. It was made to fit this frame that I saved from the dump a few years ago:

seed warmer

Her Outdoors made a greenhouse for it from yurt window material and the hoops were given to us by a friend clearing out their garden. The insulation’s from Christmas and the wall behind is south facing. The warming device was bought new and will hopefully last a long time. The electricity is 100% renewable from French supplier enercoop.

Traditionally, in this part of France, there’s a risk of frost until April 18th. Last year, the problem was our own rabbits who were released by Pepito (the retired working horse) and gorged themselves on 65 newly plated seedlings in the poly tunnel before heading off into the wild. Which reminds me, I need to fence the poly tunnel. Not even sure that’s on the to-do list.

The local tourist board very kindly shot a video showing some of the places to go and things to do, around 45 minutes from the écovallée family yurt camp. In the video, you’ll see shots of Milandes, Castelnaud, Marqueyssac, Beynac and Domme, and some views of the river just east of here.

If you got up early, you could go to all these places in one day. But we’d recommend spreading them out over at least two days. It’s a holiday. Not a competition.

Besides – look at the sky. It’ll be hot.