Iowa’s Haigwood family featured in a 2007 episode of ABC’s hit reality show Wife Swap. The 40-minute show gave an overview of the self-sustaining lives of Mike, his wife Barb, and their two children Lee and Aleesha. The Haigwood family believed in, among other things, eating raw food and brushing teeth with old, raw butter.
The nearest town from the Haigwood family farm was 45 minutes away. The family matriarch had vowed to keep ‘mainstream’ culture out of her household. However, she enjoyed the city life after moving in with the Hess-Webb family for two weeks. Barb returned with shaven legs, a lovely dress, and high heels.
The Haigwood family lives a secretive life away from civilization
Barb’s experience with the Hess-Webb family did little to change her perspective on life. She came back clad in a dress and high heels, but we suspect that she swiftly ditched them for her stained pair of overalls.
We’ve heard nothing of the Haigwood family since their 40 minutes of fame on Wife Swap. We assume that the family retreated into its rural home and resumed life as it was before the reality television cameras came along.
You’ll probably find the Haigwoods tending to their crops and animals on their farm outside Massena, Iowa.
How did ABC convince the Haigwood family to appear on a reality show? According to Radio Iowa, Barb learned of the show and emailed the producers, stating that the family was interested in appearing on the show.
One week later, ABC ‘sent out a crew to shoot an application video.’ Barb had an easier time adapting to city life than Kim Hess-Webb had running the Haigwood farm.
“By the second day, Kim breaks down, sleeping in a trailer on the farm and only coming outside to milk the cows and perform her other farm chores – which she barely gets through,” a press release by ABC read.
Mike had a more challenging time of it – he sobbed uncontrollably after he and the kids ate cooked food for the first time in years.
Therefore, we believe that the Haigwoods celebrated their matriarch’s return and eagerly resumed their routine after Barb’s return.
Barb stated that she enjoyed the experience but wouldn’t want to repeat it.
By now, Lee and Aleesha are fully grown adults. It’s unclear whether they still live with their parents on the farm.
Despite numerous complaints from the public, authorities found that the Haigwood family lived according to the law
It was common for complaints to flood in after Wife Swap episodes. After the Haigwood/Hess-Webb episode aired, the public protested Mike and Barb’s parenting methods. Most complainants accused Mike and Barb of child abuse.
In the episode, Lee and Aleesha stated that they don’t go to school and that Lee’s homeschooling involves counting the eggs laid by the chicken. Barb’s belief that the children must eat every ‘two to three hours’ shocked viewers and attracted criticism.
Barb would wake the children up in the middle of the night to drink a beverage containing kefir. The matriarch added that eating nothing but raw food helped the family deal with Aleesha’s attention deficit disorder.
Iowa state officials acknowledged the complaints but cleared Mike and Barb of any wrongdoing. Per The Register, Iowa’s Department of Human Services concluded that ‘unorthodox diets and messy housekeeping’ don’t amount to child abuse. Roger Munns, a Department of Human Services spokesperson, said:
“DHS only investigates child abuse and neglect cases when there is a credible report that, if proven true, would amount to abuse. None of these reports rise to that threshold. People who eat unusual food and feed it to their children are not abusive, nor are people whose houses are not tidy.”
The school district superintendent, Steve Pelzer, stated that authorities had permitted the Haigwoods to homeschool their children. He added that a licensed teacher ‘monitors the children’s progress.’