The Coyote Cabin Story


by JB McCauley

For a the past year, I have been following Tammy Strobel and Logan Smith’s story at, and was envious of the great life they orchestrated. The tiny house inspired my husband and I to begin building our own “Coyote Cabin.”

We live near a nature center and the “escapees” come to our backyard, which is a large clearing surrounded by woods. It’s not unusual to spot deer snacking in the vegetable patch. For several days I kept seeing what looked like a large dog near the garden. I snapped a picture while it was investigating what was in the red wagon. My husband identified it as a coyote.

When we started building our tiny house, we dubbed it the “Coyote Cabin” since it was in the same area of the back garden. Most of the materials are re-used – the trailer from a generous family member, wood that was destined for the dumpster. The design is my husband’s and he is building it without plans. Every inch will be created just for us, including a staircase to the sleeping loft (we’re not getting any younger) instead of a ladder.

I was still working at our local school district as an administrative assistant. Although I loved my boss and co-workers, I needed a change from sitting at the computer in an underground building for most of the day. My inspiration to resign came from two quotes by Danielle LaPorte at

tiny house

“Obligate yourself to your dreams.”

“Fear hardens us. We over-protect ourselves and we get further from who we really are.”

I was afraid. ‘What If?’ kept playing in my mind. It was time to let go of the fear and begin making our tiny house dream a reality. I turned in my resignation the next morning and only have 7 more working days left. My husband is still employed so we will have income. As we begin downsizing from 900 square feet to an area 16 feet long and 8 feet wide, I plan on donating most of our belongings.

It’s an exciting journey and I know this will be a positive change!


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JAKE - August 26, 2014 Reply

Thanks for the inspiration. You walk in the footsteps of many great pioneers. It would be a pleasure to know your family and you as like minded souls. Be creative and keep dreaming!

Andrea - August 26, 2014 Reply

ooh i really like the look of your roof line and loft space….please share more pics as you go along. inspiring

Deedee - August 26, 2014 Reply

Thank you for sharing your journey. It is inspiring. I am where you were, good for you, your words ring truth. I would love to follow your tiny home build and enjoy more pictures. Hope you will continue to update your progress and share your adventures.

john mckendry - August 26, 2014 Reply

Right On!!!!! I’m closing in on 71 and feel the pull of total independence, w/ot money. Other than my beautiful daughter & grandkids there’s nothing holding me back but that fear of ‘falling into an abyss’, imagined of course. I’m taking the plunge within weeks myself.

My Best Wishes for you both….enjoy……..after all, this is our only “go round”. Do it your way.

steve smoot - August 26, 2014 Reply

Thanks for sharing your cabin with us. This is a very interesting design. I hope that you will post more pictures as the progress continues. 🙂

Kathryn - August 26, 2014 Reply


Are you blogging about your journey? I’d like to follow along.

Good luck and I love the roof line.


Kari - August 26, 2014 Reply

Cannot wait to see your finish house and hear your updates as you work to complete it.

Lizzie - August 26, 2014 Reply

I understand exactly your feelings about resigning from your job, and the quotes about dreams and fear, but I am very curious to know what your husband thought of you giving up your job while he is still employed. Did he mind? Did you both agree that you would hand in your notice?

Judi - August 26, 2014 Reply

I’m excited for you and your new journey. The pictures of your new home look like there will be many interesting ideas to come. I hope you will keep us updated on how it goes.

mike - August 26, 2014 Reply

Good for you – congrats!!

Molinda Goforth - August 26, 2014 Reply

Thank you for sharing this inspiring story. I see and hear you saying the two of you have bonded in your release of fear and embraced freedom and creativity! Love how the little house is coming together and your release of material gatherings. I am in a transition stage and those material things are in a storage building! Christmas time will be an awesome time for me to give!

W. Powell - August 26, 2014 Reply

I’m not sure I could downsize right now in my life. I still entertain, I still do a multitude of crafts … but the dream of it is still wondrous …

connie - August 26, 2014 Reply

So far it looks like an extraordinary design in the making! I can’t wait to see it unfold.
I admire your courage!

Cindy - August 26, 2014 Reply

This is so wonderful. I’m impressed for sure and wish you both the best of the best. Brave and bold and fantastic.

Patricia - August 26, 2014 Reply

How exciting!!!! Good luck to you and your husband.

Carla - August 26, 2014 Reply

Would like to follow your build. Do you have a blog?

John in Brisbane - August 26, 2014 Reply

Love the build and best wishes!

Rosie Reyes - August 26, 2014 Reply

It is great to see someone “living” and not just making a “living!”

Donna - August 26, 2014 Reply

Please share more updates in a blog maybe? Very excited for you and pursuing your dreams!

Would love to see how you work stairs into a 16′ long footprint. I can only get them in 18′.

Salo - August 26, 2014 Reply

Hey, just love it! Keep up the awesome work! Hope to see you blogging too. Sending angels! Salo

Paula May Dennis - August 26, 2014 Reply

I like the way your roof lines that looks like kill e it’s going to be very roomy. I’ve been picturing how how and what I want it to look like. I’m going to start drawing up my draft for it.

debi mcclain - August 26, 2014 Reply

Please post more pics would like to see how inside is laid out and of course the finished project details also

Rebecca - August 26, 2014 Reply

Will you sell your land? I adore my 5 acres near a wildlife park. This morning I have been sorting and removing clothing. Thinking about going black jeans and white tops, cutting volume to 1/2 or 1/4. Most of my clothing to Goodwill. Keeping pretty scarves and jewelry.

Marsha Cowan - August 26, 2014 Reply

Really cool looking ao far. Would love to see the finished product! Cool pet!

scott h. - August 26, 2014 Reply

beautiful lines. got get’em tiger!
blessings to you and yours,


Norma - August 26, 2014 Reply

I would love to see the finished inside and outside version of this interesting tune home. And…Happy trails to you and your husband.

Hey Jude - August 26, 2014 Reply

Obligate yourself to your dreams – a quote for my treasure chest and my daily life and thank you for passing it on. I can feel the excitement emerging from your words and actions and know that you do not need my best wishes (although they are there) because you have stepped from tomorrow into today and sound all the more clear and comfortable for it. Peace comes at such a small price if you are willing to consider such a thing is possible so for me it is not about your particular customised tiny house but your mindset – all the rest is just stuff and will work out better than have ever imagined – of this I am quite sure. I am passionate about the tiny house movement largely for the freedom it offers people with less finance wherever they live in the world right now but also because I love the creativity, the marvelous opportunities for synchronicity as you build and live and lastly for the genius of well thought out space to call home. Thank you for the extra nudge emanating from your story to me so that I can do something more about letting my dreams be a an obligation

Patty madden - August 26, 2014 Reply

I get excited every time I see somebody else taking action to make his/her own life look more like their dreams. Go for it!

jipsi - August 26, 2014 Reply

So inspired to read your very personal and graciously shared testimonial! We see a lot here on tiny house designs and gadgets, places people build them, places they take and park them, lifestyles of their inhabitants and tips, tips, tips on how to declutter, reclutter, downsize and resize, etc., but it’s rare we actually get the pleasure of hearing someone’s reckoning of their DREAM TAKING HOLD, of their first steps into the big leap, and I found it very inspiring. Simple, but so profound,
I can hear ‘myself’ in your words, and actually felt myself confronting my own fears, and I realized, for the first time:

They’re not so scary. I can do that (this).

Thank you for helping me start the ultimate LIST, not my ‘usual’ (and aimless) funlist of floorplans, designs, web page links and book names… but of the STEPS I can – and will – take to kickstart MY dream into taking shape!

Shell - August 26, 2014 Reply

I do know what you mean by ignoring those scary “what if’s…” and going for your dreams anyway. I have not started my simple home dream yet, but have done many brave things. (to me) I moved to a part of the country I love to a city I’ve never been to without knowing a single person or much about the city. (It has been so absolutely wonderful). I actually followed my heart with a man. (that’s been wonderful) I have also quit a job that made me miserable, but was practical as far as healthcare and vacation benefits for a job I felt in my gut would be right for me. (Ah, to have those heavy bricks off my shoulders is wonderful!) So, the next one is the simple house, simple living with a garden, chickens, and such. You are an inspiration to remind me to keep going. Thank you for that! : ) Namaste

Bebe - August 27, 2014 Reply

Please give us photos of the design as you go along. It looks very interesting. Would love to see how you finish it and the stages in between.

Thank you for sharing.

Becca - August 27, 2014 Reply

Good luck! Way to take a leap of faith 🙂

Cris Perry - August 28, 2014 Reply

I am so very excited for you and your husband. Please please please keep us all up to date on the whole process.

Steve Pitchford - September 5, 2014 Reply

I too love your roof line. It’s the coolest one I’ve seen so far. I also love metal roofs – they are durable and make wonderful sounds when rained upon. One question: it’s looks to be a bit heavy, what will you tow it with?

Happy trails,

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