MOUNT GILEAD -- Morgan and Wendy Broadhead had never seen "Homestead Rescue" on television.
They had been too busy trying to build an off-the-grid, tire-bale home in northern Morrow County than to watch a Discovery Channel program about an Alaskan family's travels helping budding homesteaders.
So imagine their surprise last spring when the popular TV show contacted them about allowing Marty Raney, his son and his daughter -- and the entire production crew -- to come and spend a week to 10 days helping them.
Two hour-long episodes about the "rescue," which was filmed late last summer, aired on Discovery during the last two weeks. Richland Source went to the homestead Saturday morning to catch up with the Broadheads.
So how did "Homestead Rescue" come to Ohio?
"We had so many friends and family members ask us to keep them updated on the progress we were making," the 47-year-old Wendy said. "It was too many people. So we started a Facebook page and told people they could come there and see how things were going."
Their Facebook page, "An Dún - Ohio tire bale home," says the name "pays homage to our family's Scottish heritage and reminds us that home should be a place of safety."
The folks at "Homestead Rescue" noticed the Facebook page, detailing the Broadheads' efforts. They contacted the Broadheads through the Facebook page last winter and asked if they wanted to participate.
"We actually had never heard of them before. We haven't watched TV in like 12 years," said Morgan, 49. "We ended up having to go to the internet and downloading all the old seasons just to see what we were getting ourselves into."
After a series of online interviews and discussions, "Homestead Rescue" sent a team to the 10-acre, heavily wooded property to check it out and ask the Broadheads for a list of projects they would like to see completed.
"We had no idea what projects they wanted to do when they arrived," Morgan said.
But thanks to the internet, they at least had an idea of what to expect from Marty Raney, the boisterous 63-year-old Alaskan expert homesteader, who travels across the country with his daughter, Misty, and son, Matt, to give struggling families a second chance at surviving off-the-grid.
THE RESCUE: The ebullient, knowledgeable and loud Raney that viewers see on TV is not an act.
"He is exactly like that," said Morgan, who works as a controller for the Sika Corp. in Marion. "That's him ... 100 percent."
The Raneys, his crew and a Mansfield construction company worked from sunrise to sundown each day, according to the Broadheads, who literally put their 2,500-square foot home in the hands of others for 10 days.
"It definitely required a lot of trust on our part," Morgan said with a laugh. "We had no idea what projects they were going to do. It came to a point where we just turned it over to them and let them do what they do.
"We had seen enough of the episodes to know it was going to be OK. They do quality work and they are obviously experts at what they do. We just say, 'Whatever you wanna do, you do, and we'll love it.' And we did," he said. "We just decided to have fun with it. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience and we just wanted to enjoy it."
It was perhaps more difficult for Wendy, who works as a Board Certified Lactation Consultant at Blanchard Valley Health System in Findlay.
"The whole process was a little rough on me," she said. "I am very much an introvert anyway. Having a lot of people I have never met come in here ... having to sit back and watch someone else do all this work was kinda rough.
"Although the people -- the cast, the crew and the locals they brought in -- they were all amazingly fabulous people. They made it a lot easier."
The Raneys completed several big projects -- including shoring up a section of wall and constructing an earthen foundation on the north side of the home, drilling a water well, installing a septic tank and even digging a heart-shaped pond.
"(Marty) was always on that excavator," Morgan said. "He worked non-stop."
Misty Raney also helped Wendy with her inside planter garden, which runs the length of the home on the south side, made possible with windows that allow a great deal of sunshine. Matt Raney worked to help remove critters and bees from around the homestead.
The effort was aided by Crestview High School graduate Josh Mobley and his Scout Construction company, hired by "Homestead Rescue" to assist in the work.
"Josh and his crew worked their hiney off," Wendy said.
The most labor intensive effort was "cobbing" the tire bales, making a mud/sand/silt combination and combining it with fine straw. The mixture was used to cover and seal the tire bales.
Wendy said there were about 30 people doing non-stop cobbing for three days, completing the first of what will eventually be three layers.
TV DRAMA: As television is apt to do, the program perhaps made it appear the Broadheads were in worse shape than they were. The couple bought the property in 2016 and moved in midway through 2018, leaving the home they had in Clyde, where they were "house-sitting" for Morgan's parents on an extended mission trip overseas.
They had done their research, deciding what kind of structure to build, the needed acreage, in a wooded area and in a county that was friendly to the kind of home they planned to build.
"We drew a 30-mile radius around where I work and said we wanted to live somewhere within that radius," Morgan said. "We looked at a lot of different properties in different counties. This property fit everything we were looking for. It was all woods. There was nothing back here.
"This was everyone's hunting ground."
It was a chance to live life on their own terms.
"How can we get into a sustainable kind of living where we can provide everything we need for ourselves, where we don't have to worry about a mortgage, not have to worry about utilities and don't have to worry about people kicking us out if we don't make payments?" Morgan asked.
It was also a chance to become self-sufficient, Wendy said.
"The system isn't really built for people who aren't already wealthy or willing to go into so much debt that it could put them at risk," she said. "You either have to have a lot of money or you have to borrow a lot of money. We were trying to figure out how to get around that."
The couple began a "pay-as-you-go" homestead project they admit was not moving as quickly as they liked.
"We were pretty frustrated," Wendy said. "We had been building cash-only and we couldn't get things done as fast as they should have been.
"Those tires should have been covered before we moved in. But with limited resources and manpower, it's usually just the two of us most of the time, we just hadn't been able to get it done," she said.
"Homestead Rescue" was a tremendous help. The Broadheads are extremely grateful for the assistance and the life-long friendships the show helped develop.
But they are also fiercely proud of what they have accomplished and were not about to throw in the towel.
"Were we going to abandon everything and leave? No," said Morgan. "We weren't going to fail. That's for sure."
NEXT STEPS: The wet fall and mild, rainy winter have not been helpful to the homestead. Marty Raney and his non-stop excavator helped grade the area around the home, ensuring the rain flows away from the house. But more grading is needed to stop the water from ponding nearby.
There is a lot of mud to contend with, making work outside difficult.
"That's been the biggest frustration and problem since they left," Morgan said. "And it has nothing to do with them. It's just been the weather. It literally has not been dry here. It has really put a damper on what we have been able to get done outside."
The Broadheads have used the time to work inside and hope to soon remove a temporary wall that has divided the house, preventing them from completing the planned three-bedroom, two-bathroom house they had designed.
Once winter ends, and drier weather returns, they plan to complete the grading, plant more grass and do more landscaping around the property. They will also work on a couple of acres set aside to grow fruit and other produce the Broadheads hope to sell.
One thing that will not end is the relationships the Broadheads built with the Raneys and the crew that came to their home. Their three adult children, as well as their 16-year-old son, all took part in the event.
"We made life-long friends," Wendy said, "with the director, the crew and the Raneys. Marty texted me last week after the first episode and asked me, 'How you doing?'"