Life on the farm, or rather, “homestead,” which is the current crunchy word people use for an idyllic idea. “Back to the land,” it was called years ago.
Escape the rat-race. Raise your children close to nature.
Homeschool them. Or even, be very daring and unschool them, letting them decide what to study and when, letting them follow their own interests.
And go even further. Be like the Amish. Go off-grid. Divest yourself of those tethers that tie you to the larger world with all its problems and decision-making, and vying for jobs, and economic woes and pressure.
We imagine it and it looks like this, doesn’t it?
And it’s all healthy and good. The children are happy. Everyone works together in harmony and joy.
That’s how we imagine it.
So when people see this:
well, they tend to get upset.
Those poor people. The ebil gubmint is harassing them, surely. All because they choose not to have electricity hooked up. And they homeschool.
They’ll be coming after you next.
Be afraid. Get upset. Demand that something be done.
Only, don’t believe everything you read. Not even here. Check stuff out. Really. Check it out a lot. And especially check it out if you’re tempted, like thousands of people were, to send money.
This is the “homestead” where Joe and Nicole Naugler were raising their (then) ten children.
See the shed in the back? That was the “house.” And yes, there are only three walls.
Would you like to see the kitchen?
There you go.
How about the pantry? Wouldn’t you expect this?
You’d be wrong.
Here it is.
These photos and plenty more were taken by news media. Go on over and take a look at them. I’ll wait.
Now then. Take a deep breath, and stop yelling at the computer.
This all happened in May 2015. The children were removed from the home and went to foster care. During the removal, Nicole was charged with resisting arrest. Joe had already gotten himself in a bit of a scrape for what Kentucky calls “menacing.” He went to a distant neighbor’s place to get water (no, the Nauglers have no potable water supply or any septic system or running water of any kind, unless you count rain coming off the roof/tarp) and the neighbor alleged that when he was denied, he made threats in front of his minor child involving a supposed revolver in the vehicle dash.
Joe subsequently pled guilty with an “Alford plea” (meaning that he agreed that if it went to trial, he would likely be found guilty) and served a few days in the county jail.
In July, for no reason that I can fathom, the state opted to return all ten children to the care of these people, if you can call the way they live as “care.” However, the state retained legal custody of all of them, giving Joe and Nicole only physical custody.
While it’s possible to find numerous news outlets reporting about the physical custody issues (that the Nauglers got physical custody of the children), I can find nothing whatever to indicate that they have regained legal custody. There has been nothing in the news nor a statement from the Naugler’s attorney regarding legal custody. Although the Nauglers and their attorney were quick to report to news agencies after many of their hearings, they have remained silent about the legal custody issue.
During the time that the children were gone, the Nauglers were treated to a fundraiser via GoFundMe and raised over $45,000. News outlets have reported that they raised the money for “legal fees” but that’s really a violation of GoFundMe’s rules.
Edit: The GoFundMe campaign wasn’t a “gift” to the Nauglers. It was their own handiwork.
Although Pace Ellsworth (the person who spearheaded the financing of Nicole’s business) put his name on it after a while, the GoFundMe was started by none other than Joe Naugler. It’s pretty much the first thing he did after the children were removed on May 6, 2015.
What the Naugler parents do appear to have done (besides spending the time that their children were in foster care living in a nice motel with running water and air conditioning and a swimming pool) is to have acquired (bought outright, rent-to-own, whatever) a garden shed.
After all, it’s a “homestead.”
They need a garden shed, don’t they?
A big one.
It’s a “house.”
For a family of (now) 13. There was a new baby born a couple of months ago. No bathroom of any sort. No running water. No kitchen. Just what I’d call a big shed, but anyone would consider a very tiny house. The children sleep in the “loft.” And you can see how much space that entails. They can’t stand up. Mom and Dad have a bed right below them.
So, who cares? What does it matter? They lived in squalor. The children were removed. The state decided to give the kids back after some improvements were made to their living conditions. It’s not illegal to not have electricity or running water, or even a water source on your property. Lots of folks around me manage quite nicely without any of those things.
It’s not illegal to homeschool (and Nicole finally acquiesced to the evil gubmint’s demands that she do the absolute minimum and at least fill out the damn form that informs the state that the kids are supposedly being educated at home,) even if your home library will fit on one small shelf.
But plenty of people got interested in this family because the Nauglers wanted people to be interested. They went out of their way to publicize their situation to the world. Nicole has the above-linked Facebook page. She also has a blog, where she writes very sporadically. The Facebook page gets way more traffic.
The fund-raising has continued, off and on, for months. There is no way to know how much money these folks have raised via the internet.
Efforts to document the whole story of the Naugler family generally devolve into name-calling with the result that Facebook typically shuts down most of the pages involved.
So this will be a place where we can document stuff. Not sensationalized stuff. Just the real stuff.
If you feel sorry for these folks, or empathy for them, and you’re tempted to pull out your wallet, you might want to read here for a bit first. Then, if you still wish to give away your money to a man who does not work at all (Joe does not have a job, and the “homestead” doesn’t appear to be benefiting from his efforts whatever they may be), to parents who claim to be “homesteading” but have never raised so much as a tomato that I can see, and who seem to not be able to care adequately for their children while they simultaneously keep having them, well, that’s your right.