How the spirit of a 1970s bull called Cyril lives on at this Yorkshire farm

It would be a miracle if Cyril the Hereford bull was still around.

He roamed the fields of Newton-le-Willows back in the 1970s, but a nephew of the farmer that had Rock House Farm back then has brought back the breed that will provide eye candy for visitors to his family’s Open Farm Sunday event next Sunday (June 9).

“We love Herefords,” says David Peach who, with wife Sheena, daughter Zoe and son Tom, gave up life in the Midlands, having inherited the 40-acre farm, and made the move to North Yorkshire in 2016.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Alan, my uncle, had Cyril. We thought it would be great to reintroduce the breed and now have a small herd. They are lovely, calm, slow maturing animals that produce really tasty meat for our farm shop.

Tom Peach, with his sister Zoë Hudson-Peach, amongst their Hereford cattle. Picture By Yorkshire Post Photographer,  James HardistyTom Peach, with his sister Zoë Hudson-Peach, amongst their Hereford cattle. Picture By Yorkshire Post Photographer,  James Hardisty
Tom Peach, with his sister Zoë Hudson-Peach, amongst their Hereford cattle. Picture By Yorkshire Post Photographer, James Hardisty

“We have three suckler cows, three followers, a bull calf and an entire bull. The cows are all due to calve, so there’s just a chance that visitors might experience a calving. We’ve had Herefords since 2021.

David says that he and all the family are passionate about Open Farm Sunday (OFS).

“Our world stops for Open Farm Sunday. It’s one of our big focuses. This will be our seventh.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We’ve gone from 40 people the first year to over 250 with people coming from all over the place. We are open from 11am to 3pm and we encourage everyone to take a good look around the farm and to sample Rock House Farm beef, lamb and pork, all reared naturally, Zoe’s fantastic homemade cakes and Sheena’s jams and chutneys all made from home and local produce.

“Open Farm Sunday organisers like our story because we are very extensive, our pastures offer good grazing, plus we have SSSI land. We don’t use artificial fertiliser, we put our animals’ own muck back on, which means we maintain the environment with minimal inputs."

Preparations for this year’s OFS have been ongoing for some weeks and David says there will be so much colour for people to see in the fields, and wildlife, as well as the farmed livestock.

“At the back of our barn is one of our biggest fields, which is in a Higher Level Stewardship scheme, and offers lots of flora and fauna.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"One of the main things we’ve evolved into doing now is leaving three-quarters of the field for hay, and so we mow a track using a domestic mower to establish a very small pathway and have a hay meadow walk that includes lots of information about such as owl boxes, owls, benefits to the countryside and six stations where we share with our visitors the importance of the natural environment and explain the virtue of looking after the soil through such as worm counts.

“The field is an absolute picture with wildflowers including a dazzle of buttercups, red clover and pig nut. Artists are welcome to bring their easels and books and paint on the day.

“Our SSSI land is really important to us because it means we are able to provide a level of maintenance and restoration to those fields. Our conservation work around the farm includes cutting the hay after 15 July, light grazing in the autumn, we’ve planted hedgerows and 1000 trees on the farm.

"These have been managed through local initiatives, and we’ve put in a rainwater harvesting tank so that we use as much natural rainwater as we can.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The diversity of wildlife on the farm has really developed over the last few years with curlews, barn owls, buzzards and little owls and in leaving the hay until later for cutting we have created a really nice habitat for curlews.”

David says that the Herefords will be in their natural environment too, outside, as will the sheep and pigs, which are wholly outdoor reared, for those attending OFS.

“This year we’re trying something different. We quite often bring our animals into the barn for OFS, but we wanted to have the stock in their more natural environment so in the other quarter of that field we will have three cows and two calves, and some sheep. We already have the outdoor pens for our Berkshire pigs in the bottom corner.

Rock House is home to a flock of 45 breeding ewes and Zoe is mainly responsible for them, as well as working for two local dairy farms, and baking cakes.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We have a mixture of Mules, Swaledales, Texels and Herdwicks,” says Zoe. “We started lambing on 29 March for four weeks and we sell through the shop and at auction markets.

“It’s silly not to send anything to the auction mart with the prices at the moment and we go to Northallerton and Leyburn. We start sending fat lambs in September and we might get a couple ready for the farm shop in August.

“Our Texels are quite a new addition. We are in the process of going to a higher level of Texel in the flock, providing something that’s going to sell well in the shop. We’re always after the quality and that comes through being grass fed.

David says their three Berkshire sows produce excellent pork, bacon and sausages and that the family will be running a pop-up tearoom next Sunday.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We get a couple of litters per year off them and around 70 are processed for the farm shop plus we sell a few weaners.

“We’d love to open a café/tearoom, which would seem a very natural progression. It’s on our minds. We’ve grown the farm slowly and steadily and it is something that will evolve naturally.

“We’ve started taking the farm shop to shows like Wensleydale Show and Hunton Steam Gathering and we’ve just started taking a stall at Northallerton Farmers Market. We’ll maybe try others but only if we have sufficient meat produced here, because if we haven’t got it ourselves we don’t buy in from somebody else.

“The farm shop relates back to Cyril too. We converted what was the bull’s old house. It’s open six days a week from 10-4 and is stocked with all our meat, Sheena’s jams and chutneys, Zoe’s cakes and bakes, and fresh eggs from the farm as we also have hens.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Whatever grows here gets put into chutneys,” says Sheena. “We are extending our orchard of apples, plums and pears. The only fruit we buy in are raspberries and strawberries locally.

"The chutneys come from our polytunnels which house chickens over winter and are filled with tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers in summer. We have a large allotment area, growing cauliflowers, piccalillis and others.

Sheena also looks after the four holiday cottages the family owns in the village. Tom handles contracting work and has set up a property maintenance business. Zoe works for local dairy farmers and David also works in the agricultural industry, but they all come together on the farm where the spirit of Cyril the Bull is back.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.