A Classic Sheep Wagon in a Modern Setting

Classic sheep wagon; Dutch door, wash pan hanging out of the way but handy, and an offset door.

I love these old sheep camps.  There are many on ranches from New Mexico to Idaho and beyond in old sheep and cattle country.  They aren’t highway capable but it seems they could provide a real housing alternative for low-income minimalists.  For many of us, living this way would be far better than a housing complex or apartment.

Cook stove and kitchen box.

I took a fair amount of design inspiration from these wagons but added a bit of class along the way.  I wouldn’t mind having a cook stove like this one though.

A nice stove cap. I need to make something classy like this some time.

Off-the-shelf or build it yourself?  I love these details in hand-built structures.  This stove pipe cap has a classy look.

A double bed, cooking area, and a place to relax out of the weather. The essentials are covered.

A double bed, cooking area, and a place to relax out of the weather. The essentials are covered.

A short piece about Lorna’s wagon can be found here on the Tiny House Blog.

Home is Where the Hearth Is

…and the Vardo Will be Close by.

20150329_073652

Somebody hates to be left out.

Some important facts about caravan living before the ultra-modern RVs came along that may help people understand some of the choices I have made about my own wagon:

atHome

At the most basic level, life revolves around food and shelter.

  • The caravan is the hub around which camp is built, but most “living” actually takes place outside in the wide world.  Sometimes this means tents or other temporary structures provide added protection from the elements.  Prior to the second world war, caravan Travellers in Europe often slept outdoors, under the caravan when necessary while the kids were corralled inside.  This makes a lot a sense as adults stay up later, and kids can wander off.
  • Cooking is done outdoors, over a fire.  The stove, when there is one, is for heat and drying.  The hearth is the focus of family life, just as it has been for a million years.  That is where people congregate, music and stories happen there, and it is provides comfort and cheer.

Hearth and home has a real meaning.

  • There is no water closet or toilet inside the caravan.  That is considered by connoisseurs to be repugnant in such a small space.  Needing to defecate in such a small space is a modern, and to some, a filthy idea.  However, this is one of the most common criticisms I hear about mine or other traditional wagons; seemingly from folks with little travel or camping experience.
J. Lequesca's sheep graze in Jordan Valley, Oregon.

J. Lequesca’s sheep graze in Jordan Valley, Oregon.

  • A consistent anthropological observation about nomads is the strict rules of hygiene and cleanliness.  Working and wandering outdoors can be a dirty business so strict rules are adhered to.  Some of these reach the level of taboos and can be traced back over at least a thousand years.  Living on the road can make one appreciate this need.Family

    Family

    A happy family from the road.

  • The fancy wagons of 19th century Britain are the exception, not the rule.  Functional but sometimes homely carts and wagons have likely served as the home base for nomads of various types since 500 B.C. or before.  They came to their peak of perfection in Britain in the 19th century before morphing into the RVs we see today.
TravellerinSWengland

A Traveller in southwest England. This simple accommodation is much cheaper and more readily built from cheap or found materials than the fancy production models.

Then as today, a conscientious traveller uses a fire pan to prevent scorching the earth by the roadside.  Mine is an old plow disk.

And finally, above are a few examples of outside extensions added to late 19th century caravans across Britain exhibiting the functionality of canvas to extend the living space in less-than-perfect weather.

Caravanroadside

You never quite know where the day might end.

 

Early Motor Caravans

We live in an age of motor vehicles.  Few of us could consider, for safety if nothing else, taking to the roads in a horse drawn vehicle.  When the automobile seemed here to stay, caravanners in Europe adapted to the new technology.

MotorVans1 The earliest models look essentially like their horse-drawn cousins, just stuck onto a truck chassis.  In this era, I suspect they were topping out at 35 mph.

MotorVans2This is the earliest side-door design I have found which changes the dynamics of the interior layout.  Note that in the vehicles above, the driver is still fully exposed to the elements.  A far cry from our modern experience.  Note the “driving coat” worn by the pilot of this beauty.

MotorVans3This French innovation has boxed-in the driver’s compartment making it suitable for foul weather.  Still, I would be worried about those huge, non-safety glass windows.

MotorVans4And finally, a very practical little design; the AEROPLANE.  A cute little beast.  I could not find the floor plan for this one but there is a section profile to help the would-be builder:

MotorVans5This style fold down seat/bed is exactly what I had in my first Ford pickup camper.  Simple and practical.  Maybe these early designs will inspire more modern builders to dive in and get their build on.  Keep it simple, keep it light.

Early Home Built Camper

earlyhomebuiltFrom the Road to Glamperland Facebook page.   A very interesting all or mostly wooden home built camper trailer.  It has two simple slide-outs, a nice little kitchen set-up and I suspect the benches fold out to be the bed.  I really like the water tank on the roof.  I have been looking for a vintage looking tank to use for quite a while now but so far, no luck.

A Real Land Yacht

wowWagon

This is part of a series of images, mostly Romany, Irish and Scottish Travellers collected from around the internet.  Many of these historic images found on the web are without citation.  When a clear link to a source is found, I try to include it.  If a source is known, please pass it on and I will gladly include it or remove it if necessary.

Party Time

partytimeThis is part of a series of images, mostly Romany, Irish and Scottish Travellers collected from around the internet.  Many of these historic images found on the web are without citation.  When a clear link to a source is found, I try to include it.  If a source is known, please pass it on and I will gladly include it or remove it if necessary.

Romany Family on the Move

romanies

This is part of a series of images, mostly Romany, Irish and Scottish Travellers collected from around the internet.  Many of these historic images found on the web are without citation.  When a clear link to a source is found, I try to include it.  If a source is known, please pass it on and I will gladly include it or remove it if necessary.

Vanniers ambulants

vanniersA homey scene.  A mother cooking, father and son engaging in their craft.

This is part of a series of images, mostly Romany, Irish and Scottish Travellers collected from around the internet.  Many of these historic images found on the web are without citation.  When a clear link to a source is found, I try to include it.  If a source is known, please pass it on and I will gladly include it or remove it if necessary.

A Traveller in Surrey

Surrey in the 1960s.

Surrey in the 1960s.

This is part of a series of images, mostly Romany, Irish and Scottish Travellers collected from around the internet.  Many of these historic images found on the web are without citation.  When a clear link to a source is found, I try to include it.  If a source is known, please pass it on and I will gladly include it or remove it if necessary.