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Living the simple life with the Maddox Family

By ZOË HAGGARD - zhaggard@t-g.com
Posted 10/29/22

Nestled in the hills of Bell Buckle, the Maddox Family found their home in an 1853 antebellum house and a farm of 35 acres.  

They have goats, chickens, bees, and a huge garden. And Eric …

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Living the simple life with the Maddox Family

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Nestled in the hills of Bell Buckle, the Maddox Family found their home in an 1853 antebellum house and a farm of 35 acres.  

They have goats, chickens, bees, and a huge garden. And Eric Maddox says, “It’s been a wonderful journey.”  

Eric said there’s a peace to living simply. “And that’s the way we live.”  

“This was the first year we really treated the garden like it’s what’s going to feed our family,” he said. They grew beans, squash, peppers, okra, cucumbers, and tomatoes in addition to several fruit trees.  

Now they have a huge supply of canned goods and preserves, ranging from pears to okra. “It gives you a better appreciation for processes. The canning process is not easy...It’s an all-day thing,” said Eric.  

“It’s something to walk in and your entire kitchen and dining room is full of things Jennifer is canning.” Jennifer, Eric’s wife of 28 years, said she’s learned to do water bath canning, so there’s no need for pressure.  

For preserving pears, she peels them then cuts them into chunks. She then makes a simple syrup and packs it all into sanitized glass jars. The jars are then boiled for 20 minutes. Jennifer said she also likes to cook the skins down and get the juice from them to make clear pear jelly.  

Eric is also harvesting delicious golden honey from his five hives. He got into beekeeping to help with his eldest son’s allergies.  

Each package of honeybees comes with three pounds of bees and a queen. All you have to do is build the hive boxes and frame. Then, in about the second year you can begin harvesting the honey off the hive. Now, he’s in his sixth year of harvesting honey.  

“Truth be told, one hive is enough to sustain a family—enough to sustain multiple families. So now we have more honey than we know what to do with,” he said with a laugh. “But beekeeping has been so much fun.”  

In addition to selling and giving honey away, they’re finding ways to make the most out of it. Jennifer makes amazing cinnamon pear butter with it, while their youngest son likes to chew the honeycomb like bubble gum.  

They harvest the honey twice a year—once in July and once in October. Spring honey is clover honey, while the fall honey is goldenrod honey, which is darker and a bit more pungent, according to Jennifer.  

“Raising bees has been a cool blessing. Honestly, the whole farm overall has been a blessing,” Eric said.  

The Maddox boys have chores every morning— feeding, gathering eggs, and the like.  

“Quite frankly, Jennifer does a lot. Jennifer is one of the hardest working women I’ve ever met. She literally everyday would go out and work that garden,” said Eric. 

On a farm you have to make sure everything is planned out. Eric said any minute given in the day is dedicated to doing something.  

“Every moment out of bed is spent doing something productive,” he said. “That’s the one thing I’ve learned: you take better care of what you have,” Eric said.  

“Just knowing that you didn’t have the opportunity, 100 years ago, to go to the store like we do now, and you have to rely on that food, you take more care of things.”  

“You appreciate what you have first, then through that appreciation, you’re good stewards of it. Then as you’re good stewards of it, it takes care of you.”  

In this way, hard work is something you grow to appreciate.  

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