BATTLE GROUND — Mick Robins grew up playing in an abandoned Gypsy wagon.
The round-topped horse-drawn wagon had been abandoned in a field near his family’s home in Barwick, a village in southwest England.
“It was neat because it had a stove and bunk beds,” Robins said. “We used it as a den and played all sorts of games. It’s always stuck with me.”
Decades later, on a trip to Utah in 2008, Robins came upon a “beat-up old carcass of a sheepherder’s wagon,” he said. “I liked the simplicity of it and the fact that it was made almost entirely of backyard junk.”
Basque sheepherders probably had built and lived in the wagon. Now derelict and abandoned in the desert, it housed pack rats, and probably rattlesnakes, Robins said. But it, and his childhood memories, sparked him to consider building his own sheepherder’s wagon.
In his travels in the West, he had seen other wagons built in that style, with the rounded roof reminiscent of a ship. On his annual trips home to rural England, he sometimes saw draft horses pulling wagons similar to the Gypsy wagon that still lived in his memory.