Here’s a wonderful old photograph of a “Tinker Family in Scotland.” It is believed to be taken sometime in the 1920s but the location was not identified. The wagon could just about pass for a western American sheep camp. Even thought they had the wealth to own a wagon it was still a pretty tough life, often unwanted in non-traveller (sic) communities, these people have been marginalized for centuries.
I found this one while perusing the Johnston Collection on the Document Scotland webpage. Have a look if you are interested in great images of a beautiful country.
It was a lonely life on the range. “Even if a herder does not particularly care for reading, he will be driven to it in self-defense.” I wanted to re-share a good story about sheepherding life. Gilfillan was a shepherd for 20 years and went on to become a well-known humorist, author, and speaker.
“Archie Gilfillan was South Dakota’s sagebrush philosopher. His prairie wit entertained people in the ranching areas of Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming and South Dakota through the Great Depression.”
As to why he never married,
“You profess sincere and unbounded admiration for the beauties of the opposite sex and you practically lay your heart at their collective feet; and then you meet some individual who combines the poorer qualities of a mama wildcat and a bitch wolf, with a voice like a buzz saw, the temper of a slapped hornet, and a disposition that would curdle the milk in four adjoining counties. And then you have to revise your opinion of the sex all over again –– and downward.” In short, he never met a woman he liked who would have him as a husband.
The full article can be found here in South Dakota magazine.
I love these the old sheepherder camps. I’ve seen quite a few parked on ranches from Colorado to Idaho and even a few in Arizona. I know they aren’t highway capable but it seems they could provide a real housing alternative for low-income minimalists who have access to land. Far better than a housing complex or apartment for sure if you can deal with a small footprint.
Originally designed on a narrow wagon box, the builders took advantage of every square inch of space. Since weight wasn’t really an issue, many have large stoves like the one above for heating and cooking. As most of these wagons were homes for ranch workers in the western U.S., they needed to be prepared for extreme cold and windy environments. When I was building my vardo, I took a fair amount of design inspiration from these wagons, adding their vibe to the more European designs I was ingesting. My stove is small and I envy this one above; at least the cook top.
Off-the-shelf or build it yourself? It’s the details of hand-built structures that make them stand out and this chimney cap is no exception. This looks far more interesting to me than the local hardware store option.
The photos are from Ken Griswold’s Tiny House Blog. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’ve been a fan of his site for a long time now and recommend it for anyone with an interest in Tiny Homes. Here’s a link to the full article about Lorna’s wagon.
I love these things. I saw quite a few parked on ranches from Colorado to Idaho last week. I know they aren’t highway capable but it seems they could provide a real housing alternative for low-income minimalists. Way better than a housing complex or apartment for sure. The photos link to Ken Griswold’s Tiny House Blog. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a fan of his site.
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.
Off-the-shelf or build it yourself? I love these details in hand-built structures. This looks way better to me than the local hardware store option.
A lonely life on the range. “Even if a herder does not particularly care for reading, he will be driven to it in self-defense”. This is a good story about sheepherding life. Gilfillan was a shepherd for 20 years and went on to become a humorist, author, and speaker.
“Archie Gilfillan was South Dakota’s sagebrush philosopher. His prairie wit entertained people in the ranching areas of Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming and South Dakota through the Great Depression.” The full article can be found here.
Here’s a great story I read years ago about being raised in a family of six in a sheep camp measuring about 7 x 8′! (I think that’s the floor space). I recently relocated the article in Mother Earth News.
Nice layout sketch of a sheep camp.
Here’s an excerpt:
“The canvas-covered sheep wagon was roughly about seven feet wide by eight feet long. On the front end a door opened out of the middle and you stepped down onto the wagon tongue and thence to the ground. From the inside looking out, the stove was on the left of the door. On the right was a small wash stand with several wooden drawers for storage of linens, towels and socks. A bucket of water and washbasin were on the oil cloth covered top and a small mirror hung above the basin for shaving. Soap, toothbrush, razor and essentials rested on top of the stand when in location or were stowed in a drawer when moving.”
A Tumblr follower spotted my interest in sheep wagons and other classic mobile lifestyles. They sent me this excellent link to a short (20 minute) documentary from faircompanies.com. It’s a nice overview of sheep wagon design old and new by a couple making and selling old-fashioned Sheep Camps.
And here are a few older posts I’ve made about the American sheep wagons. They’re all you need out here in the west. Click the photos to learn more.
A Sheep Wagon in a Modern Setting
Growing Up in a Sheep Wagon
A Sheepherder Wagon Community
Sheep Camps are Alive and Well in the West
Have a look at a little bit of nearly lost American history.