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Off-The-Grid Homeschooling Parents Won’t Provide For Kids, But Can Start A Dog Grooming Salon

Yesterday, I told you about Joe and Nicole Naugler, a couple that lives on a 26-acre spread in Breckinridge County, Kentucky–an hour south of Louisville. Last week, they became a cause c?l?bre on the fringe when they had their 10 kids taken from them. They claimed it was because they’re homeschooling their kids while living off-the-grid. In truth, the kids were removed because they lived in conditions that can charitably be described as child neglect. The Nauglers live in a three- or four-walled shack (depending on whom you believe), and their spread is surrounded by animal waste, garbage, and nails. Well, to add obscenity to injury and insult, it now turns out that while the Nauglers can’t–or more likely, won’t–provide a decent living for their kids, they do seem to have enough money and time to set up a high-end dog grooming salon.

A picture of the Nauglers' cabin (from the Nauglers' Facebook)
A picture of the Nauglers’ cabin (from the Nauglers’ Facebook)

During the discussion of my original piece on Facebook, several commenters happened on a Facebook page for a dog grooming salon called “Blessed Little Grooming Company,” which is owned by the Nauglers. I couldn’t believe it at first. Unfortunately, it’s true. The salon is located in Radcliff, a few miles from Fort Knox, and has been open since April. It’s operated primarily by Nicole–who has her own Facebook page as well. Nicole had been working as a dog groomer for several years, and decided to strike out on her own. The seed money was provided mostly from Bitcoin raised through Capistan, a company that helps crowdfund startup companies.?So let’s see if I’m getting this right. These people are ramping up a small business while making their kids live in conditions that aren’t anywhere near adequate for one child, let alone 10 (with an 11th on the way).

But don’t just take my word for it. Take the word of “Gary,” a frequent poster at Homeschoolers Anonymous who grew up with homeschooling parents on a homestead for his entire childhood. Gary took a peek at the Nauglers’ Facebook pictures, and was dumbfounded by what he saw. Their food appears to be stored mostly in “unwashed and grime encrusted Tupperware and plastic containers,” and most of the cooking seemed to be over an open flame in a stack of bricks “topped with rusty and filth encrusted wire racks.”

Gary was equally stunned to see that Nicole didn’t have any idea how some of her kids came down with food poisoning in July 2014. This contrasts sharply with Gary’s homestead, which was a real house with heat, a bathtub, and an outhouse–all of which were kept spic and span all the time. You mean to tell me the Nauglers didn’t have time to make sure their kids lived halfway decently, but had the time to set up a dog grooming salon?


Apparently they didn’t have the time to take care of some other basic needs for their kids either. Nicole herself admits that at least some of her kids don’t have birth certificates or Social Security numbers. As a result, she has put her kids at risk of ending up like Alecia Pennington, a Texas girl who found herself unable to get a job, driver’s license, bank account or many other things we take for granted because her parents were so fanatically anti-government they refused to get them for her. Small wonder that other homeschooling families in the Nauglers’ neck of the woods appear to have washed their hands of them.

The Nauglers were hoping to raise $20,000 to pay various business expenses, and an additional $40,000 to pay off the loan for their spread. Capistan’s founder, Pace Ellsworth, has let it be known that he’s behind the Nauglers 100 percent. But it could wind up being a wasted effort. The Nauglers learned on Monday that their kids will remain in foster care until next week at the earliest; they are currently spread out across four different counties.

At that custody hearing, Alex Blow, Joe Naugler’s son from a previous marriage, claimed that his father abused and molested him before he was taken into foster care at age four. It was the first time he’d seen his father in 15 years, but he felt he had to speak up in order to protect his brothers and sisters. Even without Alex’s allegations, it’s clear beyond any doubt that the Nauglers don’t need to be anywhere near their kids again. This isn’t about the pros and cons of homeschooling. This is about a couple that couldn’t find the time to provide decent conditions for their kids, but had the time to ramp up a business. If that isn’t evidence they’re morally unfit to be parents or business owners, I don’t know what is.


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Written by Darrell Lucus

Darrell is a 30-something graduate of the University of North Carolina who considers himself a journalist of the old school. An attempt to turn him into a member of the religious right in college only succeeded in turning him into the religious right's worst nightmare--a charismatic Christian who is an unapologetic liberal. His desire to stand up for those who have been scared into silence only increased when he survived an abusive three-year marriage. You may know him on Daily Kos as Christian Dem in NC. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook. Click here to buy Darrell a Mello Yello.