HARDINSBURG, KY (WAVE) - A family known for its off-the-grid style lifestyle says it's now facing bullying from the Breckinridge County Health Department.
Joe and Nicole Naugler and their 11 children live in Hardinsburg and blog about their off-the-grid style of living, getting a mix of support and harsh criticism.
Last year, it resulted in Child Protective Services taking away the couple's children for a short period of time. The couple says they were only guilty of not properly registering as home-schooling parents.
"It's just a simple lifestyle," Nicole Naugler said. "It's calm. It's quiet."
The family says the constant skepticism is tiring.
"It is exhausting because we're just trying to live our lives," Joe Naugler said. "We're very peaceful people."
Now, the health department says their toilet violates state law.
The family posted a photo of the bucket toilet in March. The state health department sent a letter on May 2 saying, "after examination, a nuisance dangerous to the public health (or source of filth or cause of sickness) exists."
"We've been using it for three years," Nicole Naugler said. "It's maintained. It's taken care of. It follows all the guidelines."
The couple says the letter's claim of examination is false. They say the health department has never been on their property. In a recorded conversation between Joe Naugler and the man they say is Jeremy Hinton, a state health official, Hinton says he's never been on the property.
Here's the partial transcript:
Hinton: Other than the complaint, I have not been on your property.
Naugler: Well, I, I know that.
Hinton: On your all's Facebook post, you take pictures of your composting toilet, or we'll call it a composting toilet.
Hinton: The way you're composting is not approved, or is not an approved system through the state of Kentucky.
The conversation continues with Naugler saying the family is following all the proper rules.
Hinton: We'll let this go, and like I said, at the end of your notice, if we haven't corrected the dumping of the solid, or dumping of the human waste on the ground -
Naugler: The human waste can be composted on the ground.
Hinton: Alright, well we'll let someone else determine who's right and who's wrong.
The family says it was never told what was wrong with the toilet.
"If there was something that we were in violation of, if there was an error that we made along the way, we have no idea how to fix it because we don't know exactly what's wrong," Nicole Naugler said.
Hinton did not respond to multiple requests for comment.