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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13 thoughts on “Mule Drawn Tiny Home”

  1. 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!

    • 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?

  2. 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 😀

    • 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


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