CPS Removes 10 Children From Homestead Of Family Living ‘Off The Grid’ In Kentucky

Image Credit: Facebook/Blessed Little Homestead

Breckinridge County Sheriff Deputy Todd Pate and Kentucky State Trooper Adam Hutchinson, acting upon an anonymous tip alleging poor living conditions visited a home in rural Kentucky belonging to Joe and Nicole Naugler.

The parents, Joe and Nicole have ten children including another on the way, and have chosen to live an “easier, more simple” life “off the grid” in a 280 square-foot wood framed, three-walled cabin.  The couple decided that all they needed was a generator to supply their power and an old school outhouse for a bathroom. They grow their vegetables, hunt the animals on their land and cook over a wood stove.

The children are receiving a more nontraditional form of homeschooling called “unschooling”, which teaches them through experiences more than through traditional book learning, and allows them to focus more on subjects they find interesting.

It seems this anonymous tip came after Joe had a “run-in” with one of his neighbors.  The report states that Joe is accused of threatening his neighbor by asking one of his children to “hand him the gun”, although no weapon was ever produced.

The “tip” also stated that the family was living in a tent, that Nicole had given birth in a tent, that they had no running water or septic, and that none of the children were enrolled in school, along with the allegation of Joe threatening his neighbor.

FOX Carolina 21

When the officers arrived on scene, Joe was away from his property with eight of his children. Nicole was home with the two eldest children, attempted to drive away from the scene, but was pulled over and had her children taken from her.  She was then arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, but she has stated that the arrest took place when she would not simply allow the officers to take her children.

The sheriff then ordered Joe to turn the other children over by 10 a.m., or be arrested on felony charges, for which he complied. He has since been charged with the misdemeanor crime of menacing, which only occurs when someone “intentionally places another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury”, in accordance with Kentucky state statute 308.050.

The couple’s children are now in the custody of Child Protective Services, split between four foster homes stretching four counties as child welfare agents continue to investigate the allegations of “unfit living conditions”.

It seems that the overall reactions to the actions taken by the state have been mixed.  Pace Ellsworth, a friend of the family involved stated that the family was happy and just chose to live “outside the box” of typical modern living. Many of the comments on the family’s Facebook page have voiced their support for the family, including one such man who wrote: “It would not be my choice to live like that. But you never asked me for my opinion..lol..If your family is healthy and happy, then who am I to tell you to change. I applaud you and hope the best for your family.”

There are others though, that have cautioned that there is more to this story, than first meets the eye.  One such Facebook comment was from someone who said they “used” to know the Nauglers and thought they were trouble. Another claimed to know the family and said that Joe and Nicole were “scary” and had banned them from coming to their house after their own children asked them to not come back.  Many others claim the living conditions are indeed not fit for children and questioned their safety.

The couple waited impatiently on Monday for a hearing to determine whether they would get their ten children back or not, but according to the determination it won’t happen until the Cabinet For Health And Family Services completes their investigation. In part the statement reads:

“We have allowed CHFS to inspect our property and interview our children multiple times. After every visit they have confirmed, and confirmed again today that our children are happy, healthy and well cared for and that our property is sufficient for their needs. Despite that, the judge decided as a result of the deliberations in today’s hearing that our children will remain in CHFS care while they continue their investigation.”

As for the misdemeanor charges, they are slated to be addressed in court today.

The decisions of the Kentucky courts could have a big impact on the “back-to-basics” homeschooling crowd, as well as all those who are choosing to find a more simplified way of life in a modern world.  Maybe they were born 150 years too late, but is that something we want our government deciding for us?  I agree that minor children must be taken care of and not placed in imminent danger, but who exactly are we letting decide what is best for our children?




About the Author

Patrick James
Patrick James
Patrick James has worked as a firefighter/EMT for several services throughout the years, as well as a custom metal fabricator, certified personal trainer and chef. Growing up in the rural suburbs of Detroit, it was during his frequent trips to Northern Michigan where he learned of his love for hunting and fishing. Spending several of his adult years in upstate South Carolina, his love of extreme sports took root in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains as he learned to rock climb and kayak. "Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and vanish into air." ~ John Quincy Adams

28 Comments on "CPS Removes 10 Children From Homestead Of Family Living ‘Off The Grid’ In Kentucky"

  1. Avatar curt bowling | May 12, 2015 at 11:48 pm |

    it wasn’t 150 years ago more like 70 years ago my grandpa worked the coal mines in hazard and Harlan with twelve kids till he got black lung and tb his older girls moved to ohio cinncinatti and paved the way for their siblings to all become succsessfull with no formal education my father graduated from university of Dayton with honors from the brookings institute in mathematics,became highly in demand toolmaker and millwright.my grandfather died in Dayton ohio at 73 years old.am proud of him and in these times hands on experience is better than the thug life or islam terrorist no discipline atmosphere of public schooling.they are his children who has the right to interfere,they have already separated them into 4 states.family like that will overcome the government.it has happened before ,randy weaver ruby ridge,hope its a better outcome this time.

  2. I hate to be the bearer of bad news to the Nauglers but……., your children are gone. Sorry, we aren’t living in the early part of the 20th century. Now that the fascist liberals have shined their intrusive light on you, you will have to knuckle under to their will to ever have a chance of getting your kids back. I would suggest you start by building a modern bathroom, or two so your children can have a sanitary place to keep clean and dispose of waste. Living conditions such as yours breeds disease. I’m surprised your children have all survived. next, if you don’t want your children to end up on welfare because they are too ignorant to get a job, you may want to consider figuring out a way to get them schooling. Choice is yours.

    • Mark…
      You’re comment is rude and uninformed. It was only about 70 years ago that inside bathrooms became a “norm” and people survived just fine with outhouses and there are quite a number that still do. Secondly, just because someone lives off the grid doesn’t mean that they will live on welfare. Most of the people who live off the grid don’t want or need welfare (that is saved for the people who “can’t find a job” and don’t have the gumption to do anything for themselves). Most off-grid people are self sufficient and their children are raised with the knowledge of how to survive and are typically very smart individuals and problem solvers.

      It’s people who are ignorant (seemingly like yourself) who follow blindly and never question. Be a critical thinker and step outside the box and your comfort zone. Stop judging someone who doesn’t live how you do or think that they should.

    • In our state of Alaska, out houses are still uses due to lack of sewer systems up there. With that said, lack of bathroom does not see, to be the only problem here. Adequate dwelling to keep the children dry and warm appears to be lacking. I did not see a facility shown that appeared to be be an outdoor toilet. Also if this father is going somewhere to obtain drinking water, there is apparently not suitable drinking water or a well on the land. Soooo there does seem to be quite a few obstacles to homesteading safely with 10 children who depend solely on these adults for their livelihood. All these people donating to their cause might should make sure it is in the best interest of the children first. I am definitely for freedom and homeschooling our children but only when they are safe snd cared for.

  3. As Always, there are 3 sides to every story, cps, the Nauglers’ and the truth of the unknown. I hope and pray this agency will work professionally and no one add’s their own personal beliefs to this situation. If these 10 childrens’ needs, food – shelter – health – clothing – love – are being met and they are not being neglected or abused , they should be returned. The school systems deprive “our” children of their individual beings, teach bullying, shame, blame, alter our self esteem , precious children who are kind , thoughtful, considerate , honest and the list goes on… are almost always “changed” beings as soon as the enter public schools. If I could be off grid , I would in a minute. Todays world is not my way of life and I could certainly do with out it . A simple , wholesome life is a mere American Dream to many. Wake up Americans , just because your neighbors like their life in the fast lane doesn’t mean your neighbor does. You may like your veggies from a can but I like mine fresh or frozen, we are all unique individuals , and our values and thoughts and needs are individual and unique.

  4. Avatar Crowhawk Birdman | May 13, 2015 at 5:39 am |

    Leave them the help alone!!! The government has it’s nose up someone’s ass everyday,every minute enough is enough!!! Atleast they weren’t on PUBLIC ASSISTANCE ASKING FOR A FREE HANDOUT LIKE A LOT OF THE LOWLIFE LIVING OFF THE GRID DO TODAY!!

  5. excuuuuuuuuuuuuuse me but shouldn’t you conduct an investigation FIRST before you take someone’s children, not the other way around?????

    • Avatar paulaegraham | May 13, 2015 at 11:11 am |

      Actually no. Because an abuser can kill a kid while you investigate. So if there is any danger of physical harm or flight, you take the kids first.

  6. 30 below zero in Kentucky???? LIAR

  7. ok this is messed up in my opinion so this family is treated like criminals because they want to live in an older living style with virtually no electricity and an outhouse for a bathroom well if there gonna accuse the mother and father of child endangerment then why havnt all the omish people living in this country been imprisoned for the same things this family was only going for the omish life style and there neighbors disagreed with them. Just my opinion but give the family a break

  8. Were the children physically or mentally abused? Are they happy? Is this family receiving State Aid? If everything is okay, give them their Children back!

  9. Avatar Linda Danielson | May 13, 2015 at 9:13 am |

    I’m a big supporter of the men and women who wear the badge. But this arrest/ charge and then investigate seems to becoming more common . Its not a crime to be disliked by your neighbors. Its not a crime to choose to live different than others. And it should be a crime if a mother gets bucky when you are taking her children without investigating the accusations. Or giving her a right to face her accusers. You just took, what most women believe to be their world, away. That is a human response.

  10. Avatar sick of racist niggers and jews | May 13, 2015 at 10:38 am |


  11. They want to live off the grid but have a famiy facebook page???

  12. Avatar paulaegraham | May 13, 2015 at 11:08 am |

    I am a little conflicted about this story. On one hand I don’t think govt.’s place is to dictate lifestyle. On the other, there are some real concerns here.
    I don’t see room to sleep 12 people in this cabin. In the winter time, it will be a safety and health issue.
    Also in the modern world, you have to be educated. The family says they are unschooling which can mean anything. Are the kids literate? Are they socialized?
    I just finished a book about Papa Pilgrim in Alaska (book was called Pilgrims Wilderness) whose family lived a lot like this so that he could beat and rape them without detection.

    • Exactly. Unschooled is keying in on their special skills or not setting certain hours, curriculum or books. I am concerned there was not any type of training going on at all. I wonder if any of the children can read. The spelling and grammar was not very advanced on the Facebook page they were using. Very elementary. The education of the children could not be taken very far.

  13. Avatar June Minard | May 13, 2015 at 11:30 am |

    I am a mother of five myself. I am also for off the grid living. I myself would love to buy some land in the country and build a pretty cob house with a rocket mass heater and we’ll water and a septic system. A cozy place to grow a garden and raise a few animals. I would’ve done this when my kids were still home gladly and home schooled them as well as taught them how to live self sufficiently. However..and this I think is my main objection…I would not live in a tent or fenced in area with my children. Kentucky has milder winters than Iowa I’m sure but they do get under 32°F. That is freezing. Meat freezes. The shelter I see in the pictures is not nearly adequate to provide heat in the winter. I think if the children are healthy..not abused and are happy..the parents should be given the chance to build are and proper shelter and be given their children back. I don’t agree with the government making rules as to how we rear our children and having the right to take them on are and whim..but at the same time I think that if you are a parent your first concern should be your children’s health and welfare. There is no way that the shelter shown could provide warmth enough through a winter season for any child. As far as the squalid conditions..well we all go camping and we don’t have toilets or running water or anything in the real woodsy setting. (Campgrounds do..I know) so I can’t really fault the outside being dirty..I used to love it..camping all summer with my dad..fishing to fill our freezer for winter. But in winter that is not what I’d call responsible parenting. Anyway..I hope the kids are healthy..happy and are given the chance to be back with their parents if conditions are improved to provide proper shelter from the weather.

  14. Move to alaska, literally the last frontier and last place where living conditions such have as these are still, yes, still normal. I have met families living with NO power, NO running water, and yes, NO bathroom. They used lanterns at night for light, hauled their own water to a water tank attached to their home. And still used an outhouse. No, these conditions aren’t the ideal notion of normal. But who are you to decide normal? I agree these children should be in some type of homeschooling program, there are programs that teach through experience rather than lecture. It’s sickening to my stomach how these poor children ripped from their parents all because people can’t mind their own business.

  15. Hmmm Good thing they didn’t have these laws when America was first discover or the pioneers were moving west, and lets not forget how the Indians survived for years living off the land in teepees. People get real. Those children will probably be smarter and have more common sense than most graduating elementary, high school, and college students. Who are we to judge. We make TV show about this stuff. The Bush People,their living conditions could be said to be just as bad, and than we have the Kardashians now that’s a real good family to look up to.

  16. Avatar Pabloesguapo | May 13, 2015 at 3:24 pm |

    I hope this family can get a good lawyer. cpc and other authorities rely on families not having the financial means to fight back.

    while I agree that the investigation must be completed before the children are returned to the home, I seriously question the reasoning behind the original call to the authorities in the first place which got the children removed. all parties involved must be acting in good faith. the police, CPS, the courts, and the neighbour who made the original call. Mandated reporters and whistleblowers have immunity in these situations, but it is QUALIFIED immunity. They have to be acting in good faith. I believe the neighbor was not. He would be the first person named in the ensuing lawsuit.

  17. Avatar just jane, thanks | May 13, 2015 at 7:00 pm |

    Are the children sick or malnourished? Are they reasonably clean? Can they read at an age appropriate level?
    Or is this another land (child) grab by the government because there are still parents who refuse all government indoctrination-through tv, the internet, or government schools?
    Imo, their first mistake was allowing DFS into their home without a lawyer present.
    Oh, and about water…Here in the New Mexico Sangre de Christo mountains, many do not have a safe or decent well and haul water in. This is not abnormal in some rural locations.
    Both of my grandparents grew up like this and they ended up quite successful. So did Lincoln, as i recall.

  18. what this story neglects to mention is that they have an older child who, according to his statement after court, was removed from the home years ago and alleges neglect and abuse.

  19. I was raised in an Amish community, so are they gonna take all the children away from the Amish, who don’t have indoor plumbing, and don’t allow their children to attend public school?

    • Jesse at least the children and families have a decent home protecting them from storms and bad weather and mosquitoes and snakes and bugs…In the early frontier days they were home schooled. When the towns were growing they had a school house for the children. No government telling them they HAD to do this and do that. I commend all the parents that simply want whats best for the children not just themselves.

  20. I have been keeping up here and there with this article…and the courts. There is a fund called “fundme” and it has raised over 42 thousand dollars to help this family, of which I do hope will be seen to that the children at least have protection from the elements, and they get clean water on the property and not have to steal it from the neighbors. In one article I saw they do have a generator, so electricity can be had, they do have internet…for whatever purpose a facebook page is for them, and this is also taken from an article…The family may be off grid, but they aren’t anonymous. In fact, they have Internet, as well as a Facebook page dating back to 2012 where they frequently post pictures and videos of their children, animals and their off-grid life. A May 5 post showed a video of a toddler, Mosiah, learning to walk. An April 24 post showed a happy family, gathering around a campfire, roasting marshmallows.
    They also post pictures alluding to their faith. Their Facebook page — which has nearly 2,000 likes — is called “My Blessed Little Homestead.” This sort of life gets much criticism. I was very concerned of the childrens education, whether, public, private or at home schooling…as long as they have one. When they become adults they may decide they want to live differently and they should be prepared to do just that. The CPS has their job but in many cases it is not needed…but just as well in many cases they save a childs life….

Comments are closed.