Ready for traveling

As autumn approaches we are finally “mostly” finished with building Toti. There are a few pieces left to glue on but we are planning to take a trip in September. I have been struggling all summer with a knee that must have a total knee replacement, so the past weeks have been difficult. Mornings have been bearable and I have been able to take care of Vanille. She gives me energy. My mood lifts and the pain diminishes when I am with her.

We have continued to take Vanille out with the “caleche”/small wagon at least once a week, usually for 3 hours. Mark's driving is great so with he and Jean Francois in the front seats, I just relax in the back. I call this my time to be a princess. There is no use fighting what is and I know that after the surgery I will regain my strength, so I feel very lucky to have two men in control.

The following are photos taken today and a brief explanation of what we've done and why. If you are interested in building a wagon and have questions, just contact me by email:

We opted for shutters that slide so that there is less danger of them catching on a branch when moving. The window hardware was difficult to find but Mark finally found a company in India that shipped it to us UPS one day delivery. That was a surprise! On opening the package, we found the following note:

Thanking Note

We would like to thank you for placing your confidence in our work and for allowing us to supply the goods to you. We hope that you had a wonderful blessed experience with us. God Bless You Abundantly! Warm Regards, Adonai Hardware

Here's the little bell given to us by the Roulotte Papillotte family. It has a lovely tinkling sound.

I kept the decoration on the back rather simple. The turtle window is so beautiful that nothing else was needed. Eventually we will put shutters but with the back roof overhang it's OK for now.

If you're interested in photos of the interior, there are some on previous postings.

We have spent hours studying hoof care and feeding of our powerful horse. She is a french draft horse and little by little we are learning just how different her needs are to those of a smaller breed of horse. She is not especially tall but she is massive. The difficulty is keeping her strong, in top form both mentally and physically, but not too heavy. Although draft horses are larger than other breeds, they do not need more food. Overweight is a constant problem with Vanille. There are masses of information on the internet and this has been very helpful. There are new and interesting boots and composite shoes being developed and new information on the trimming and care of the horse's hooves. This is also available on the internet so there is plenty to learn, very helpful and intelligent information. Jean Francois is constantly studying and transmitting information to us. So far, Vanille is in even better shape than last year. She does not heat up when working, her energy is great, she is calm and very happy to be harnessed up for a ride. We are using Duplo composite shoes on all four feet. So far they have given no problems. We change them every six weeks. Our blacksmith is an angel. Vanille is fidgety and his patience is amazing.

We have had lots of compliments from visitors. My main contribution has been the artwork and when I step back and look at it now, I have such mixed emotions. I wonder where the ideas have come from. It's not like anything else I've ever done. Some people say it looks Polish or Russian. My grandfather was Polish. Was he helping? It has a happy feeling and I hope it will make people smile. That's the most important thing for me.

NOW…….let's go traveling!



About Suzanne

American living in France. Artist and lover of nature, gardening, all living beings. Married to the love of my life, mother of two wonderful daughters and grandmother.
This entry was posted in Art, attelage, barefoot draft horse, Community, Comtois horse, Gypsy wagon decoration, Gypsy wagon/Roulotte construction technique, Horse drawn vehicles, Lifestyle, Roulotte, Small living spaces, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Ready for traveling

  1. N2 says:

    It looks fabulous! So glad to see it at this stage, ready for the road. Sorry to hear about your knee. Wishing you a skillful surgeon and quick, complete recovery. You’ll be ready for next seasons adventures on the mountaintop roads. Sending love. N2

  2. Nicole says:

    Toti Bleu is so beautiful Suzanne. A real masterpiece of love and creativity. What an accomplishment, what an adventure. Now to enjoy! We are coming this winter in January and would love to see you. Will keep you posted xxxx

  3. hilarie10 says:

    Toti is finally ready. Mark is ready. Vanille is ready. But your knee is being a party-pooper now. Isn’t life always like that?! The perfect convergence is always so hard to achieve. As my mama used to say, “If it t’aint one thing, it’s t’other”. Perhaps, in the meantime, Vanille wouldn’t mind loaning you two of her Duplo shoes…

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