Homesteading isn’t the same as farming. Homesteading is a lifestyle, farming is a job. People choose this back to basics lifestyle for many reasons. There is not a one size fits all way to do it.
In May 2015, the Naugler family, a family who had recently embarked on this back to basics homesteading life was under attack from local authorities. They were accused of doing things the wrong way. In a matter of a day, their entire family was ripped apart. Parents separated ( Nicole arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest and was in jail) the children taken to several different foster homes except the two oldest boys who were put into a facility much like a juvenile detention center.
Thanks to a great support system, the Nauglers story went viral. A friend set up a Go Fund Me account in Joseph’s name while he focused on getting his wife out of jail and his kids out of state custody.
The family lived in a rough hand built cabin. It was a stepping stone in their path to self sufficiency. While it looked rough to most, it was clean and safe for the entire family.
This is the cabin they built. The open area is where the infamous “4th” wall existed. Some critics believe there was no 4th wall. Most people understand that a lack of a wall on that side of the cabin would have meant the family was highly exposed to the elements of winter and would have barely survived. Photos of the children in that time frame show they were happy and healthy and not like children who had just suffered through winter a 3 walled cabin. The logical conclusion is that there was a 4th wall, removed for good weather.
The fence, as you see here, was hand built. Its a beautiful fence, and makes a great addition to the outdoor eating area that had a tarp for a canopy. The outdoor kitchen used a rocket stove to cook. It was rugged and back to basics, but it worked.
The family invited the media out to see the homestead on clean up day. Of the 28 acres, the photos were limited to the same few things. You can see them here, Some people had a fit over these photos. Things aren’t always what they seem. Sometimes they are. There is no context in these photos. They are widely misunderstood. Lets look at the cabin right after the children were taken. The “stick walls” are actually a fence for the outdoor kitchen. The trash was located on a separate area of the homestead. Not near the cabin. The photos of the trash was trash that was in a dumpster.. The trash barrels were dumped there. The photos of the rubble was rubble the family had been cleaning up bit by bit since they moved in. The cabin was rugged. The family doesn’ deny that. They built it for the sole purpose of surviving the winter and to save enough money to build a new cabin come spring. Nicole had been working her own house call grooming business while getting her new salon open. Joseph and their two oldest sons had jobs lined up for cash and supplies and would build the cabin bit by bit over the spring/summer months to have it ready by Nicole’s due date. (She was 5 months pregnant when this happened) Had the state never intervened, it would have been done.
But instead the Naugler parents spent the next 8 weeks fighting for their children while also trying to get the grooming business up and running. In July the Nauglers were given physical custody and at the next court date, legal custody was returned. The only findings of CPS were that the Nauglers did not register as homeschoolers per state law. No abuse or neglect findings were made.
In addition to the custody case, the Nauglers had separate criminal charges. Joseph was charged with menacing, a charge that was filed a few days before the children were seized. He was at the property of an acquaintance, with permission of the property owner, when an argument ensued with one of the tenants and she claimed Joseph asked his son to get his gun. Nicole was charged with disorderly conduct for her opposition to the sheriff taking her children without presenting her a warrant, and resisting after she tried to protect her unborn child when the sheriff and his deputy slammed her against the patrol car. Since the criminal charges were wrapped up with the family court case, ( which is unusual and unfair) Nicoles cases were deferred and Joseph was forced to take an Alford Plea so that he could retain custody of his children.
There is a lot of discrepancy to how much money the family raised. Many news outlets reported the business loan in with the donations. The business loan was acquired several months before the children were taken and the business was just days from opening when the Go Fund Me was set up. The go fund me was not used for legal fees. Those were paid for privately by friends and other donations.
At the request of the GAL in the case, the Nauglers used part of the donations to purchase a prefab cabin. Since the summer was half over and plans were diverted it was a disappointing but necessary purchase. Instead of using the $9,000 to build a nicer cabin, they put had the prefab delivered and the children were returned.
Its a tiny home. but its a home. They have an outdoor kitchen, had a compost toilet ( see the update here) , and an outdoor bathing area. It works for the family.
This story is a story because first the Nauglers wanted the story told. They have been journaling their lives for over a decade. And this was no different. They wanted to show the bias and corruption of the system. They wanted people to see what happens when you are a bit different. The children were happy, healthy and educated. They were cared for by their parents. But as with any news story, things got twisted, gossip spread and people logged an attack on the family with the intent of keeping the children from being returned, and once they were returned, they wanted to do everything they could to see the children were removed again.
Their reasons vary, some are politically motivated, some are busy bodies, some are just plain spiteful. They despise everything the family does, from home birth to homeschooling. They oppose Joseph being a stay at home dad.
This blog serves to tell the story of the 17+ months of harassment, stalking, cyber-bullying of this family.