Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Shelter Designs-Troy, MT

We took a little detour off the beaten path to the town of Troy, Montana to visit with Shelter Designs. Here Vince Godby and Hays Daniel hand build Yurts. While many people would assume that most Yurts would fall into the category of eco-friendly design, and indeed most do fit many of the criteria such as use of small space, sustainable building materials etc. Shelter Designs is working toward taking the Yurt one step further in terms of eco-friendly and sustainable design and construction. Using as many locally and sustainably harvested materials as possible, they are carving out a niche market from people who want to know a little more about where the materials in their Yurt come from and how they are processed.

We got the recorder the first time we called, and it looked like we might just have to roll on by. We tried again a bit later however and got Hays on the phone. After a brief explanation of what we were up to, he invited us out to see the operation. "We are twelve miles out of town on old Hwy 2" he instructed. "Just look for the lumpy straw bale house, you can't miss it". Sure enough twelve miles, two deer, and a million pine trees later, here was the lumpy house. We were greeted by a barefoot little girl who immediately asked us if were missing any goats or sheep. As we were not, we said no, but that we were looking for the "yurt guys". She offered to take us there and down a sandy little path we went, followed by the dog. "My daddy makes violins" she informed us, and we were surprised to find a violin maker in this remote location. But that's the beauty of this trip, you never know what you will find.

We soon came across a large shop with an even larger addition obviously in progress. Vince, Hays and their assistant Gary soon wandered out to meet us. Not getting a whole lot of visitors out here, they invited us into one of their Yurts that serves as their office, and we got a chance to learn a little more about them and their vision.

Not to be outdone by the Airstream, Vince offered us a tour of the "lumpy house", his straw bale home that sits nearby the shop. This was truly a work of art and love and Vince was rightfully proud of it. He took particular pride in showing us the basement, where underneath a sheet of plywood lay yet another subterranean cavern where he explained in the sub-zero weather that plagued them while they began, the only sand that they needed for the construction that wasn't frozen solid was available. The resulting hole will soon become a root cellar.

All too soon we were on the road again. To learn more about Shelter Designs Yurts visit: www.shelterdesigns.net

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