A Former Off-Grid, Homeschooled Child’s Thoughts on the Naugler Family

CC image courtesy of Flickr, Paul Jerry. Image links to source.

CC image courtesy of Flickr, Paul Jerry.

The following post is written by Gary. The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Gary” is a pseudonym. Also by Gary on HA: “The Deep Drone of Unseen Cicadas” and “Hurts Me More Than You: Gary’s Story”.

To begin with I would like to state several things.

1. I do not know the Naugler family. I have never met them. All of the following observations are based solely from the information this family posted, publicly, on their blog and public Facebook page.

2. Much of the “information” being spread about the internet in regards to this family is clearly, factually incorrect. This can be seen through simple observation of posts on the family’s public Facebook page and blog.

Most of the information people are referencing is based only from the first few photos and/or posts on the family’s blog and Facebook page. For instance, the cover photo used in much of media coverage is clearly (based off the age of the youngest child featured) taken as much as two years ago. Another instance would be the “cabin”. When the family first moved to the property they did, indeed, have a cabin of sorts. In reality it was a small prefab home bought on credit. But this cabin was later returned. Where it stood is now a concrete slab, bare and seen in photos as a resting place for a heard of goats.

Since then the family has lived in a series of small open air shacks and tents — none of which even have 4 walls, windows, a solid floor, or a working door. This as well is clearly visible from photos publicly posted.

3. The dates of the photos posted on the family’s pages do not necessarily correlate to the date the photos were actually taken. Once again, this can be established by noting certain structures (or lack there of) on the land, the ages of the youngest children, and the time of year the photos were taken. Thus, no reliable timeline of any kind as to the health and welfare of the children, at the time they were taken, can be established by the online information. The most recent group photo I could find (once again based from the ages of the children) might have been taken as long ago as last fall.

4. The situation at the homestead, based off the photos and posts available, seems to be getting worse. There are several reasons for this, and they have to do with the effects of animals (goats, chickens, dogs, etc.) and human habitation on a spot of land. In the beginning the pond appears to be a real pond (turtles and fish are pictured), by the (apparently) latest photos, the pond has turned into a filthy mud pit devoid of most life. This is the natural consequence of animal dung running off the surrounding landscape with the rain and melting snow, the traffic of people, animals, etc.

This same trend can be seen in the yards and areas surrounding the shack. At first the dirt is held down by plant roots, but as the small trees were killed by the goats or chopped down to form fences, the dirt turned to mud. This mud gets mixed with the animal dung (goat, chicken and dog) and gets tracked by the bare feet of the children over every surface of the homestead. This state of affairs is clearly visible in the photos.

With this comes water from rain running straight off into the pond, carrying with it animal dung and any and all other forms of filth, from oil and gasoline from the generator, to cooking and food waste. This means that any photos taken at the beginning of this homestead experience simply can not be relied on to show the true living conditions of the current day.

We do see some photos of a shallow ditch covered by a few muddy boards, that was dug in an attempt to keep this filthy rain run off from flooding the shack.

5. These conditions will continue to get worse unless there are major and lasting changes to every aspect of the family’s food preparation area, sleeping area etc. The mud and run-off water will get worse as the hillside continues to break apart. The pond will become even worse of a health hazard as it fills with more animal dung and garbage. The structures, such as they are, will begin to mold and rot from the ground up. (This is, in fact, based off photos. It is already taking place).

6. I am not going to talk here about the family’s religious beliefs, their choice to un-school or homeschool their children, their practice of not providing their children with immunizations, Social Security numbers, or birth certificates.

All those issues are, in my opinion, secondary to the very real and pressing issues of the health and physical safety of these ten children.

Despite all the media coverage to the contrary, that does seem, based off all information available, to be the actual and factual reason the children were taken from their parents.

So without further ado, here is a bit of what is going on.

*****

My family is sick.. We never get sick, its been nearly 3 years since we have been sick…But I think the children ate some bad food. ~lesson learned, ask mom before you eat something.. 7 of 10 children down. Olivia, being the nurturing one that she is, is taking care of everyone with me. She is bringing water to them, making sure they are all cared for..She has been on top of it not missing a step even when I stopped to feed the baby. Quinten made up everyone’s spot.. .. ,,,,at least they like to sleep outside. ( true campers!) But no one is up for roasted marshmallows

-Direct quote from the “Blessed Little Homestead” Facebook page, posted on July 24th 2014

In the photo (which got over 20 likes) we see multiple children, dressed in dirty shorts, sprawled on mounds of blankets in the dirt around an open air fire pit.

They are obviously sick:

Food poisoning. Or was it? They, “the children” had eaten some unidentified “food” with out asking their mother if it was safe to eat.

Was it some of the wild mushrooms featured in many photos on the “Blessed Little Homestead” (BLH) Facebook page?

Was it rotting left over food sitting in any number of the unwashed and grime incrusted Tupperware and plastic containers lying scattered around the open air “kitchen” (really a stack of bricks filled with open flame and topped with rusty and filth incrusted wire racks)?

Was it Salmonella?

Let us see if this description matches some of the living environments seen on the BLH Facebook page.

Food: Contaminated eggs, poultry, meat, unpasteurized milk or juice, cheese, contaminated raw fruits and vegetables (alfalfa sprouts, melons), spices, and nuts

Animals and their environment: Particularly reptiles (snakes, turtles, lizards), amphibians (frogs), birds (baby chicks) and pet food and treats.

There are picture after picture after picture of small children, covered in grime, holding and handling:

  • Snakes.
  • Toads.
  • Baby Chicks.
  • Turtles.
  • The list goes on and on.

There is photo after photo of a “homestead” coated inches deep in mud, and with up to eight goats roughly a dozen chickens, two cats and seven dogs running loose around and in the shacks that serve as “home” for this family, one can know, with absolute mathematical certainty,  that this “mud” that coats everything form the children to the floors and walls in a persistent layer of grime, is at least in a significant part, animal dung.

So, was it Salmonella?

Was it E-Coli?

Was it poison mushrooms cooked up by an unknowing child in a grimy pot over an open fire? (The kids, after all, are shown doing the “cooking”, and the mother brags in several posts about how “the kids do almost all the cooking for the family.”

We don’t know. The mother doesn’t know either. And that’s a big problem when it comes to the health and safety of the 10 children living in filth and squalor in a 380 ft. three sided shack.

*****

But what makes you an expert you may ask?

Well.

I grew up in a similar environment.

My family bought 12 acres of land, 50 miles from the nearest town, in the North West back in 1982. We spent that first summer living in an army tent. During that first summer my father and mother and older brother built a 20 by 15 foot log cabin. That’s 300 square feet.

By snow fall we had a insulated, steel roofed, 300 square foot log home, it had a real cinderblock foundation, it had 3 double pained insulated windows, and it had a barrel stove.

We did not have electric, we did not have a well, we did not have indoor plumbing. Internet and cell phones did not exist in 1982. The nearest phone was at a neighbors home over three miles away. Then over the next 3 summers my father and mother built a 8 room, two story, glass windowed and hard wood floored, log home. It has a stone fireplace, a full basement, and a root cellar and a pantry.

They also built: an animal shed, a shop, a tool shed, and a woodshed.

During those years we became a working “homestead”, including 4 goats, two dozen chickens, geese, a small horse, a dog, 35 rabbits and two cats. We had a large garden as well. During none of this did we ever have: a well, a phone, air conditioning or refrigeration. We lit our home first with kerosene lamps and candles and then later with propane lanterns. We cooked our meals first on a wood stove, and later on a propane stove. We gathered our water from a local public well. (for drinking) and from a system of rain barrels, (for bathing and watering the garden.) After about 10 years we hooked up solar power and ran a system of electric lights.

We were (and my parents still are) “off the grid”:

  • 33 years with no well.
  • 33 years with no internet.
  • 33 years with no indoor plumbing.
  • 33 years with no eclectic grid hook up.
  • 33 years of gardening and eating wild game.
  • 33 years of gathering drinking water at a local public well.

All of us children were raised, from 1982 till 2013 when the youngest left home, in a true “homestead” environment.

We lived it.

I lived it.

For the first 18 years of my life.

I ran free in the woods, home schooled only 4 months out of the year, much of it self directed learning. I milked goats, I hunted wild game, I tilled that garden by hand, and toted water from rain barrels to water the plants. I was barefoot all summer long, from May to October. I fished in the river, at the age of 9, with no adult supervision.

It was, quite literal, “homestead” living.

It really was.

However.

We had a real house, insulated, enclosed on all 6 sides, and heated. We had a fully enclosed, 7 foot deep, ventilated outhouse, with a real toilet seat and a locking door located a sanitary distance form the house. We had bedrooms, with real beds and real mattresses, for the children, one for the girls, one for the boys, (bunk beds with your brothers can be great!) We had a bathtub. We were kept clean, very clean, by the constant work and insistence of my mother. Our farm animals were kept separate from our yard and our home by fences.

Even our yard was clean, swept with a push broom till it was smooth hard packed earth.

We were healthy.

Our meals were cooked in spotless pans and served on real ceramic plates at a real table, (solid oak, passed down from Grandpa). We had a “real” Homeschooling curriculum for all 12 grades (sure, it said electricity was a mystery and people road dinosaurs like horses just 4,000 years ago, but what can you do?)

The family of 12 (soon to be 13) living on the “Blessed Little Homestead” have none of those things.

I have been on their Facebook page.

I have looked through years of photographs.

I have read post after post, on the public Facebook page and on their public blog.

Their living conditions are among the worst I have ever seen. Ever.

My family was not the only one “homesteading” in this remote area of the Pacific North West. I knew over a dozen families living in nearly the same conditions as my self. That is: living on clean, well organized and maintained farms and homesteads, usually with out electric or plumbing, often home schooled, and deeply conservative. I knew a family living in a teepee for two years. I knew a small commune of three families living in a communal yurt. And I never, ever, saw living conditions even half as dangerous, anarchistic or filthy as what is shown on the “Blessed Little Homestead” site and Facebook page.

This family isn’t “homesteading”, they are, for all practical purposes, homeless.

This family does not have the cabin featured in some of the photographs, it was bought on credit and later “returned”.

This family was living, twelve deep, in a tree sided shack. The floor is covered in dirt and filth, the children are as well. The shack they sleep in is built from old pallets and two by fours. I won’t bore you with the details of structural integrity, but let’s just say that I am very surprised the shack did not collapse under last winters several feet of snow (photos of which are on the BLH public Facebook page) and kill or injure the 12 family members huddled inside.

(Note how the two by fours are driven, with out foundation, strait into the dirt, and how the load bearing single two by fours in the front of the shack are spaced 6 feet apart.)

I could go on for pages about the myriad dangers from accident and infection and disease these children were being exposed to on a daily basis. I could mention the animal dung covering the whole area in a layer of slime, pounded into a grimy coating by the bare feet of ten children, draining with the rain and melting snow, down hill from the “homestead” into the pond that has now, after several years of occupation, apparently gone from being home to fish and turtles (in earlier photos) to being a mud pit doubling as an open sewer choked with animal dung.

I could mention the generator and gasoline cans, (visible in several photos) located right next to the shack ( there is an extreme danger of carbon monoxide poisoning killing the entire family, in fact, the only reason I suspect this hasn’t happened yet is the fact the dwelling is not enclosed on all four sides).

I could mention the filthy conditions of the “cooking area”, including dirt encrusted plastic cups, drifting smoke and food being eaten by the grimy unwashed hands of children as young as 4 who cooked their own meals, over the open flames. (also clearly visible in photos on the B.L.H. public Facebook page.)

I could mention the photos of dog bites, wasp stings, scrapes, cuts, and bruises.

I could mention that the BLH blog links to articles about how Tetanus shots aren’t needed as long as the:  “wound bleeds, cus Tetanus can’t live in oxygen and there is oxygen in your blood”    (I kid you not).

I could mention the  fact that with out any doubt what so ever, this “homestead” also smells like an open sewer.

It does.

I know because I grew up on a farm/homestead.

I know because you simply can’t have 8 goats, 7 dogs, two cats, a dozen chickens and twelve people living loose around a muddy pond in the Kentucky summer heat with no running water and not have it smell so rancid that it could be smelled half a mile away.

It’s impossible.

This has been framed as a “off the grid” issue. It is not. “Off the grid” does not mean, by default: dangerous, filthy, ignorant of basic food preparation and safety, anti Government and anti documentation. “Off the Grid” living can be done safely, cleanly, and in full compliance with all local laws and regulations (in many states). I know. I lived it.

This has been framed as a homeschool issue.

It is not.

Kentucky has very open homeschooling laws. It’s legal. Heck, “un-schooling” is legal there too.

The children were taken because it was unsafe. VERY unsafe, not because they were homeschooled.

This, surprisingly, has not been overly framed as a religious issue, at least not yet.

But this isn’t about homeschooling, parents rights, “off the grid living” “government control”, “erosion of our right to do what we please” etc.

It isn’t.

It is about the fact that the conditions at this particular site, in this particular case, with this particular family, where absolutely horrifyingly dangerous, unsanitary, and unsafe on multiple levels. This isn’t hearsay or supposing.

This is clearly visible in dozens on dozens of posts and photos posted publicly by the family themselves.

Quite frankly, I am surprised all the children made it out alive.

343 comments

  • Sandy McClean Hodges

    Apologize for repitition of my comment.

  • I got so tired of hearing everyone support these parents.

  • This whole story is bizarre! It’s hard to know what’s true except with the living conditions. That’s pretty obvious. She tells a good story, but how much is true and how much is false…who knows? I guess since this story is so big…we will find out eventually.

    • Most of what she says is false. The woman has major issues, she is emotionally unstable and her husband doesn’t do anything to financially, physically or emotional support his family. Sadly the children are better off in foster homes.

      • Maybe Nicole didn’t start out with huge issues, but they’re here to stay now apparently. If there is a vote, I cast one for Borderline Personality Disorder.

      • I’m not a psychologist (but I’ll play one like Joe) and say I agree with your assessment.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    (Note how the two by fours are driven, with out foundation, strait into the dirt, and how the load bearing single two by fours in the front of the shack are spaced 6 feet apart.)

    My two cents’ worth as a son of an architect who also remodeled our house almost from scratch:

    The lack of a foundation and (probably) untreated 2x4s mean those 2x4s will probably be so eaten by termites and dry rot that they’ll crumble and collapse the shack within a couple years. YOU NEVER PUT WOOD DIRECTLY IN THE GROUND. YOU ALWAYS USE SOME SORT OF FOUNDATION — CONCRETE SLAB, CINDERBLOCK, STONE — TO KEEP THE WOOD ABOVE GRADE.

    Normal stud spacing for a wood-framed structure using 2×4 studs is SIXTEEN INCHES (40CM) BETWEEN STUDS. That’s what’s needed to support the roof load. Six feet (180cm) apart will have NO load-bearing capability. The ceiling joists/roof rafters on top look about 18-24 inches (45-60cm) which is better, but still weak. Remember those wall studs have to bear the weight of the ceiling and roof (and the wood floor I see) or the place WILL collapse under its own weight.

    The picture shows a wooden floor. What I said above regarding the roof framing goes double for floor framing. Because floors bear a “live load” of everything stacked upon them (including people). Two adults, ten kids, plus all the stuff we see in the tent is HEAVY. I can’t see how it’s supported, but if they’re attached to the studs it puts more load on the bottom part of those 2x4s which will already be weakened by termites and dry rot in the ground. And since it looks to be “balloon-framed” instead of “platform-framed”, the load is going to be on the vertical studs.

    Platform framing: You first build and level the foundation. Then you build the wooden first floor as a platform on that foundation, anchored to the foundation by sill plates. Then you raise the first floor walls atop that first floor platform using the floor platform as construction scaffolding. Then you build a ceiling or second floor as a platform resting on the first-floor framing, and continue until you frame the roof. Floor & roof framing always use heavier lumber than 2x4s — 2×6 or 2×8 or even 2×10/2×12, depending on the length of span and designed load.

    And if they’re in snow country in winter, I haven’t even considered snow load on the roof (including steep pitches to shed snow before it can build up).

    • I checked out some of the building code requirements and the minimum for snowload is 15 psf.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        In any case, NO WAY IS THAT “CABIN” GOING TO BE UP TO CODE.

      • Exactly. They would be wiser to use the money to have a a small cabin built properly than figuratively spray paint that stick assemblage gold and persuade CPS it’s acceptable. Just tear it down and start over. It’s not as though they don’t have enough money to purchase materials and be prepared to pay people who know what they’re doing to at least HELP them. Although I think it would be more cost effective to go rent a house (pre-paying the rent for a year).

      • If they rent a home they will do to it what they have done to every other home they have lived in, they will destroy it. These people are nasty, living in a home with running water never helped before, it won’t help now. Talk to anyone who has met them, they smell, they are gross and they are respectable human beings.

      • @June – of course. I had overlooked that part. I was thinking if they paid THAT much money, in advance, plus the security deposit (placed in escrow – at least in my state it’s placed in escrow), then maybe they’d take better care of it than they have in the past.

        Foolish line of thinking on my part. I should know, as I ran that PACER search and it’s hardly exhaustive.

      • I think it might be very hard for them to rent, with their past record of what theyve done to the places that theyve rented before. I know I wouldnt want to rent a place to them even with a year up front. But they might be able to buy a smaller fixer upper with the amount theyve made in donations, and even a small fixer upper would be a huge jump in quality of living!

  • Why do I keep coming back to this? I think it’s the absolutely fractal nature of the stupidity on display. If it had just been the two of them, it would’ve been, “Oh, look, two more culpably ignorant greenhorns, just in Kentucky this time instead of Alaska.” But they dragged 9–no, 10–no, wait, 11 kids into their sticky web of awful decisions.

    Look at the photo of the outdoor kitchen above. Look at the view beyond it. Look at all that polewood within dragging distance of the shack! There are log cabins all over the Alaskan bush made of trees that size. Complete beginners have used pictures in books to make weathertight dwellings out of the stuff, and the Nauglers live in the days of online demos. Even a small cabin would have been heavy enough that it could have sat directly on the concrete foundation without blowing around. (Is that why they chose to build on a “foundation” of plywood and concrete blocks and sink their main supports into the dirt?) They even had plywood and tarps for the roof and entryway. Even if they lost the woodstove when they lost their prefab (what did happen to that stove?), look at all those slimy bricks sunk into the mud. Imagine them dry and heated over an outdoor fire every evening, to warm the beds inside a weathertight log cabin.

    I just–they had more than 20 acres of land. More than 20 acres of wooded land, and two good hands and feet each. And this is what they decided to use them for!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Why do I keep coming back to this? I think it’s the absolutely fractal nature of the stupidity on display. If it had just been the two of them, it would’ve been, “Oh, look, two more culpably ignorant greenhorns, just in Kentucky this time instead of Alaska.”

      Maybe because in Kentucky “two more culpably ignorant greenhorns” are a helluva lot less likely to DIE than if they tried it in Alaska?

      I just–they had more than 20 acres of land. More than 20 acres of wooded land, and two good hands and feet each. And this is what they decided to use them for!

      Even using those 20 acres to grow POT would be an improvement!

      • It’s disturbing to think of these kids sleeping in a van, that may have had to be running for any length of time [hello? Carbon monoxide poisoning!] in the wintertime too.

      • Jenny Islander

        I just found out that they didn’t lose the woodstove. They lost the prefab, but kept the woodstove. Presumably they kept the metal chimney that had been attached to the woodstove, but I’ve only seen a picture of the woodstove.

        Outside. Rusted all over, and hanging open.

        Because heat for the price of getting off your butt and picking up an axe is just TOO MUCH WORK, amirite?

      • I don’t know the address of the property the Naugler children were living on, but according to a poster linked below (actually the ultimate source is a Facebook page but I can never find my way around on FB pages), a search of public records for that address will turn up a lease–not a mortgage.

        http://getoffmyinternets.net/forums/mommy-bloggers/uhhhhh-blessed-little-homestead/page-24/

        Again according to this poster, a lease precludes building new permanent structures or infrastructure until the lease is paid off. If true, this would explain a lot. It would also make their decision to move in there at all even more reality divergent. And why didn’t they use the well? Even if there’s sulfur in the water, there are ways to deal with that. Are lessors forbidden to use existing infrastructure?

      • Welp, they still haven’t used any of the tens of thousands of dollars donated to them to replace that three-wall shack with a mini-prefab, get the well tested, or any of a dozen other things I bet anybody who reads here could think of. But they have put some rabbits in an enclosure made of pallets and chicken wire! The rabbits are for feeding the dogs. Because every homestead needs dogs that eat livestock. Yup. That’ll convince the mean old CHFS to give her back her kids, you betcha!

        And then she imagines that she could make lots of money selling all-natural rabbit meat to local dog owners. No, seriously, she says this.

        The last time I met somebody so un-self-awarely reality divergent, that person turned out to have a brain tumor!

      • OK, now there are pictures but no caption? I cannot grok Facebook.

      • @Jenny Islander – did you catch that they haven’t even toted away some of the stuff they pulled out of the pond? It’s in the background of one of the rabbit photos. Is anyone taking care of their animals on a daily basis? I didn’t see anything, anywhere, that leads me to believe someone is feeding, watering and checking over the animals.

  • concernedcitizen68

    Where has Gary been? He hasn’t posted in a very long time. Did they get him shut down from posting?

    • No, Gary is absolutely still allowed to post. Has had some personal issues to attend to, I believe.

      • I hope he returns soon. I’m a brand-new member and I particularly enjoy reading his posts. Best wishes dealing with whatever has cropped up to monopolize his time and energies.

  • I couldn’t understand why they won’t even try to build or find a new house until after they get the children back…and then it hit me. They are planning to take the money and the kids and leave Kentucky. I hope the Judge is smart enough and wise enough to think of this possibility. Also hopefully he cares about these children and won’t allow them to do this. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

    • I think you’ve hit it squarely. They’ve packed up and left their cares (and bills) behind everywhere else, why would this time be any different?

      Anyone happen to know if the contractors have been paid for their work on her new grooming shop? If not, maybe there will be liens placed on their business before it’s reached the end of June.

  • If Nicole was pulling in money like what is reported at the site below, at any point in time, then why in the world did she ever have to declare bankruptcy (in 2003)?

    http://www.mainedirectory.co/business/city/profile/casco/17071/pawsessional-grooming/6978787/

    She may have also used Nicole Button, professionally.

    http://www.ilookupmaine.com/city/casco/people/17071/n/

  • We at NLH Facebook group we frequently linked to your blog. For those who were in the group We have moved. Please everyone join us at the new page to discuss new developments on This case as they come down going forward.

  • Pingback: Children of Joe and Nicole Naugler to Remain in State Care | Homeschoolers Anonymous

  • Is anyone here familiar with The Continuum Concept? The more I read, the more I think Nicole must have read it — or gleaned certain theories from it off of certain discussion boards. Perhaps she — or someone — could get Jean Liedloff or Jan Hunt (of The Natural Child= to comment on this affair. Perhaps Nicole would listen to one of her supposed gurus?

  • Jean Liedloff died in 2011.

    Jane Hunt is still alive though and available for consultations. http://www.naturalchild.org/counseling/

  • Apparently the Blessed Little Homestead Facebook is now no longer public. It was yesterday but not today. I’ve been keeping up with this story. Is it possible to get updates on what’s happening somewhere else?

    • It’s back up now. Nicole wrote, “I am worn down with the attacks.. not just the gossip but the verbal and some even physical attacks my family has suffered over the past 7 weeks.” If that has been the case then I hope they reported it to the police.

  • Pingback: 10 Homeschooled Children of Joe and Nicole Naugler Once Again Under Parental Custody | Homeschoolers Anonymous

  • Ive just started reading about this…..if they have no electricity how do they have a Facebook page?

    • They use their mobile phones and pay extra for upgraded service. Perhaps she has a wi-fi or hotspot at her business, too. Quite a number of businesses offer wi-fi so as long as they charge their phones (probably while driving), they can do whatever they wish. With the possible exception of actually teaching their children skills that will serve them well in the world at large.

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  • There is no changing the heartache of being striped of your children.
    There is no denying the hurt and stories of millions of foster care children. They aren’t growing up off grid. They are in homes deemed “fit” by everyone… But when they get out, if they get out, they tell tales of abuse that make your “dirty water, flapping tent” issue a walk in the park.

    I think many people are either pretending to care, or not seeing the reality of foster care. Or some perfectly accepted systems. Let improve those!
    Let’s encourage home improvement… Fine. But hijack kids from their way of life? Over some dust?

    Put yourself in their shoes even for a minute… Or, their leather moccasins and twine.
    It’s not so hard to do… Rush traffic could strand you, a tsunami could flatten you… Then I just bet you’d be thankful for someone who knows survival skills. I know I would.

    Miss 33…you “schooled” yourself. I’m sorry.
    But you are not the world. And yours is one story. It matters. But it’s not enough to justify your page defaming a story you did not live.

    Maybe one day, if you have kids, or if you have to apply your off-grid skills …you’ll understand. Good luck.

    • You presume that people who don’t live in this manner aren’t capable of learning how to adapt. Yet there are a great many people who could do so and don’t necessarily have as few skills as the Nauglers possess. Remember that many children join the Scouts and they do pick up some skills. Plus they can use the resources available at the library to learn more.

      Fact of the matter, most people who are middle or upper class would struggle a bit but as they aren’t necessarily terrified of every government agency that exists, many of them would at least figure out that county extension services are available for very little to no money at all.

      In other words – just because you can see where someone is now doesn’t in any way mean you have a clue as to where they began.

      The Naugler adults are failing at setting up yet another garden. Already. There are better gardens (community and individual) in cities where people are having to haul in soil or make their own compost over a period of time because they’re having to start on concrete. They’re going to be more successful than the Naugler’s, again, because neither Joe nor Nicole learn from their mistakes.

  • I couldn’t find another way to contact you (author) but wanted to ask you about your pinions and observance of the family living in a teepee. My two boys have been being me to let them live in one since we discussed native American Heritage a while back in a lesson, and we were brainstorming feasible temporary housing on our new land to allow us to save money by living on site while we build a home and establish or own homestead. I grew up on a homestead and the children have been wanting to try it out from my childhood stories and visits to my childhood home where they’ve enjoyed helping around the farm. I never thought much about the story until i found your article but i agree; our property never looked like THAT. But do you truly think the authorities recognized the unsanitary living conditions or do you feel that the homestead lifestyle put them at risk originally for them to have been hassled by neighbors and officials in the first place? I guess what I’m asking is do you think on a healthy, well maintained homestead with homeschooled children in a teepee would we be inviting harassment? We were looking at the 26 foot models but comparing them to videos of yurt interiors it seems like an unnecessarily large space. Would be interested to hear about the family you knew who went that route and whether or not they went traditional spartan interior or were ‘glamping’, ie. Had a modern interior and furniture, etc like you would in a house. 🙂

    Please email if you’d be interested in letting me pick your brain a bit

    • Hey, I just noticed your comment.

      Traditional Great Plains tepees were notoriously C-O-L-D in wintertime. The conical shape was imposed by the need to have everything come apart and pack neatly in a form that could be dragged by a dog (later by a horse), plus the available building materials tended to be tall and skinny trees growing along the creeks. The shape and the overhead ventilation tend to suck most of the heat upward. If you’re going to use the tepee for summertime only, pay careful attention to location so that you don’t end up with a damp floor and have fun in your nice cool tepee. But if your winters are at all cold, I’d go with a yurt. Yurts were created by people who had been using horses for a very long time, so they are made to be taken apart and packed. This allows for a bunch of panels that can be put together into a nice round dome that shrugs off the wind. A yurt can be very snug if you have enough carpeting.

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