This summer was my first time growing a garden and with that garden I also grew a patch of various herbs. Some of the herbs did really well and some did poor. My sage plant grew like crazy! And then I was left wondering what in the world was I going to do with all that sage!? I got the idea to make simple syrups out of all my herbs to use in cocktails. I shared a recipe for a Thyme Vodka Lemonade and then I decided to try something with a sage simple syrup with honey instead of sugar. Today we have the lovely Lauren of Neale Family Farms joining us and sharing about their new venture in bees!
NEALE FAMILY FARMS
When did you start farming? What brought you into farming?
Ben (my husband) and I are first generation farmers. We started out with cattle and branched out to have sheep and beehives. Ben is very skilled in animal husbandry, learning through hands-on experiences as a farmhand growing up but also earning two Masters’ degrees: one in Agricultural Operations and another in MBA. The goal of the farm is to be self-sustaining.
What crops (or animals) do you grow and why?
In addition to cattle, the sheep started as a project for me with two bottle lambs. As I learned how to take care of stock, I fell in love with sheep. Ben saw this love and, realizing there is a good market for them, bought us a few flocks from around the area. Now, we have around 50 head. It’s so much fun to look out of the window and see baby lambs with their mamas when they are first born. Ben also enjoys his bee project. Bees are fascinating – the way they work together as a team. Beekeeping has its challenges but the reward of sweet and nutritious honey is great!
What advice would you give to anyone interested into getting into your field?
Find a mentor and study with them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Study your animals’ behavior. A lot can be learned from watching them interact with each other.
I used our favorite Canadian Whisky for these, either Pendleton or Forty Creek. I highly recommend using a quality spirit, it will improve the overall taste. Feel free to adjust the simple syrup recipe to incorporate ANY herb you’ve got. I have mint, thyme, sage, and basil in my fridge right now. The simple syrup should keep in the fridge for several weeks for you to use with drinks.
- Honey Sage Simple Syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup honey
- 10-12 fresh sage leaves
- 4 ounces quality whisky
- 3 ounces Honey Sage simple syrup
- 3 ounces fresh squeezed orange juice
- orange peel & sage leaves for garnish
- Honey Sage Simple Syrup
- Bring the water and honey to a boil in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Once boiling, add the fresh sage leaves. Reduce heat and simmer 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool before using. This recipe can be used for many different herbs.
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the whisky, simple syrup, and fresh orange juice. Shake well. Strain into a lowball glass with ice. Twist an orange peel over the rim and throw in. Garnish with additional sage leaves. Enjoy!
- If you need a sweeter drink, add more honey.
This post is part of my Thirty Days of Food series where I am writing about food and farming for the entire month of November, to find out more about it all or how to follow along, visit my Thirty Days of Food page to find more great recipes with farmer features!