Mule Drawn Tiny Home - Tiny House Blog

Mule Drawn Tiny Home

13 months in a 21 square foot, Mule drawn Tiny Home

Bernie Harberts of River Earth recently bought a set of Sonoma Shanty plans and when we were communicating by email because he is wanting the shanty on wheels version, I discovered his website and learned about his interesting story.

Bernie recently downsized his wagon for a second journey across America, he went from 60 square feet down to 21 square feet in order to cut down weight and make his home more easily pulled by his trusty mule Polly.


Everything I ever built in my life has/had wheels under it: from the boat I sailed alone around the world to the boat I built and sailed from Canada to the Bahamas to the wagon I lived in while voyaging from Canada to Mexico.

Bernie’s old wagon was 2360 pounds, empty and he designed his new one to be only 800 pounds. Here is what Bernie has to say about his design.

This time I paid closer attention to what the original pioneers wagons measured. I took a tape measure to my mule skinner buddy Tash Hudson’s wagons. The beds on his traditional wagons measured 36″ to 48″ wide, fully 2 feet narrower than my original wagon. Another friend, Sue Maska, who spent 5 years traveling the country with her husband in their horse-drawn wagon, gave me tips on a practical interior layout. Their wagon was only 3 feet wide.

Then I fired up my welder and got to work. Using 1 1/2″ X 1/8″ angle iron, I welded up a steel frame that weighed 100 pounds.

To that, I attached lightweight walls fashioned from 3/4″ foam insulation sandwiched between two sheets of 1/8″ plywood.

The new wagon measures just over 2’ 6” wide by 8’ long. A 3’ covered area where I sit while driving, what I call the front porch, brings the overall length to 11’. Headroom inside, instead of 6’, was reduced to 4’ 10”.

Bernie is an author and sold books along the way to help pay for his trip. You can see two of his books pictured below. I want to encourage you to go explore his site and learn more of his story as I can’t do it justice in a short post. Visit his the General Store if you would enjoy getting one of his books and getting the full details of his travels.









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Eve - July 31, 2009 Reply

How utterly inspiring and the interior seems so workable for this age yet the Vardo tradition is maintained.

Aside from the sights and peoples tales along the way there is nothing like lying on the ground and hearing your Mule,(Clydesdale in my case), munching happily alongside you.

Bernie, please please make plans for this tiny home!

    Keelee - December 19, 2020 Reply

    You grew up riding as a child and later became a steeplechase jockey. In 2003 you rode Woody the mule 3,500 miles from Oriental, North Carolina to San Diego, California. Most people cling to the comforts of home. But you have been repeatedly lured away from a routine existence. How do you explain your love of wanderlust?

Grant Wagner - July 31, 2009 Reply

That is incredibly awesome. I used to dream of riding across the country in a bike, but that seems so much nicer, and doesn’t involve me having to loose 100 pounds before I can start 😀

    Steve - August 26, 2014 Reply

    You will lose 100 pounds AFTER you start

Web Site Design Kent - July 31, 2009 Reply

This is the definition of a mobile home? lol

Tim R - July 31, 2009 Reply

I would be much more impressed with this if wagon was human or solar powered. Poor mule!

    draftjim - November 3, 2009 Reply

    humans who dont spend a lot of time with animals often make this mistake.i have pulled with percherons heavy drafts and pyrenees dogs and every time there was one that would get so very excited at the sight of the pulling equipment.ALL animals like to travel!!! this way they have their best friend and caretaker and HOME with them.when the local law forced me to quit pulling dogs my lead dog developed hip displaysia and laid around until he DIED YOUNG AND MISERABLE!!! yet as log as he could run daily he was healthy and happy

Brand - July 31, 2009 Reply

Dude, you did not just pity the mule. LOL! Do I ever pity my golden–always bringing tennis balls to The Man.

Tiny House Living , Archive » Touring by Tiny House & Mule - August 5, 2009 Reply

[…] Touring by Tiny House & Mule Posted August 5th, 2009 by Michael Janzen and filed in Lifestyle Tags: Bernie Harberts, issue18, mule, River Earth, tiny house, tiny house blog, tiny house design, touring, wagon View commentsComments This is a wonderful story of a man one his second trip across America in his mule drawn wagon. Bernie Harberts of River Earth recently downsized from a 60 square foot wagon to a lightweight 21 square foot home. If often wondered how successful it would be to weld up a simple angle iron frame for a tiny house. Now I know because that’s exactly what Bernie did. Then he sandwiched some foam board between plywood and attached it to his frame. The result was a very lightweight and cozy tiny home. Read the entire story on Tiny House Blog. […]

paul lunemann - July 25, 2012 Reply

Are plans to had?

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