A couple with a new enterprise turning heads - welcome to the Horny Cow.

Lucy, Richard, Sophie and Jack Lunn
Lucy, Richard, Sophie and Jack Lunn
0
Have your say

“Be careful how you Google us,” says Lucy Lunn complete with a cheeky smile. “Just make sure you type in the right words otherwise you never know what you might be looking at.”

“Be careful how you Google us,” says Lucy Lunn complete with a cheeky smile. “Just make sure you type in the right words otherwise you never know what you might be looking at.”

Lucy Lunn with Dexter Sirloin Steaks, one of the heritage and rare breed cuts available at The Horny Cow.

Lucy Lunn with Dexter Sirloin Steaks, one of the heritage and rare breed cuts available at The Horny Cow.

That’s because farming couple Lucy and husband Richard of Home Farm in Wilton, near Thornton le Dale, have a new name that, along with their Highland cattle, is turning the heads of many a motorist on the A170. Their farm shop, selling rare and native breeds of beef, lamb and pork, all reared from their own farming enterprise, opened earlier this year and is called The Horny Cow.

“I didn’t want to call the shop Home Farm Meats,” says Lucy. “I wanted something catchy that people will remember having seen the sign in the field while driving along the road between Scarborough and Thirsk.

“That way if they haven’t had time to turn down the road into our sleepy little village, they will may be come the next time, and in the meantime they can check out our website and Facebook page.

“People say they love the name and that it’s easy to remember so it’s certainly doing its job. The Horny Cow was inspired by the horns of our Highland cattle, but we sell far more than just one breed of beef.”

Richard is a regular at several livestock markets and largely buys commercial cattle such as Limousin X and Aberdeen Angus X dairy cattle for fattening and selling to larger concerns destined for supermarkets, but he’s also started taking an interest in heritage breeds and the Lunns now have a suckler herd of around 65 cows that is split at present between Galloways, Highlands, Dexters and White Parks with more to come.

“I buy a lot of cattle, anything and everything, mainly commercial strong stores at 15-20 months old that we then take through for another four to six months to finishing, but when I started with the heritage breeds it became apparent they took longer to mature, needed rearing off grass and you couldn’t push them. They needed the greater time.”

It was this point of difference, producing native heritage beef, that gave Richard and Lucy the idea to retail direct from the farm. They put their toe in the water at Christmas 2017 by putting the beef from a couple of their Highlanders into the freezer and gave steaks and joints of beef to friends and relatives as Christmas presents. “Everyone said the beef was amazing and that we should start selling it ourselves. That’s when we realised there could be an opening to specialise in native heritage breeds and the result so far has been fantastic. We haven’t spent a lot on anything fancy for our farm shop. It’s still more or less a garage with freezers, but we’re now at the stage where we can make it look even better,” says Lucy.

“I’m quite happy selling meat rather than adding things like scented candles and birthday cards. I want The Horny Cow to be about good quality, local produce at an affordable price.

“I think people buy on quality, but they also buy on price so I’m trying to match as near as we can the right price that people will buy. The only other thing we are stocking in addition to our meat are vegetables including potatoes as I want customers to be able to come here and buy their whole meal rather than have to go somewhere else where they may have to pay for parking. One expansion I’d like to start is a deli selling cooked meats, but I don’t want to run a café.”

Welsh Mountain Badger Face, Kerry Hill and Jacob sheep make up the lamb offerings in the shop, while pork from Gloucester Old Spot and Berkshire pigs is also proving immensely popular.

It’s a family affair with Richard’s father Ken, now semi-retired, helping out. Richard and Lucy’s three children are all involved too – Jack, 16, who is undertaking an apprenticeship through Askham Bryan College, but has come back to help on the farm; Sophie, 15, and Olivia, 13.

“It’s a good job they’re all here with what we have on,” says Richard. “My back went a year since and that’s the reason Jack is at home. I had three prolapsed discs, one of which was severing my spinal cord. I’m now trying to help Lucy with the shop while also buying stock in livestock markets, but any lifting work has to be done by others.

‘We also have two willing workers with the girls,” says Lucy. “Sophie has the Welsh Mountain Badger Face and Kerry Hill sheep that her grandad, Ken, looks after more so at the moment as she is in her final year at school, but when lambing time is here Soph is very much hands on.

“We’re lambing in two batches this coming year with the first batch in January and the second in March. Olivia also has hens and collects eggs every morning that we also sell in the shop.”

Richard is the third generation of the Lunn dynasty at Home Farm. His grandfather Hilton, known appropriately as Hilton from Wilton, moved from Tockwith in 1946 having previously farmed at Green Hammerton where he had the village pub, The Bay Horse, as well as 50 acres. Richard’s father Ken was born at Tockwith.

Richard and Lucy married in 2002 having met through the young farmers organisation. Lucy was a member of Snainton YFC and Richard was with Kirkbymoorside YFC. Their children all now attend Snainton.

Today’s farming enterprise sees them with 600 acres of which 150 acres are owned, the rest is rented. Their land runs down the Vale of Pickering and up to Dalby Forest and also includes parkland on Thornton Estate. They have 250 acres of arable land growing wheat, barley and fodder beet.

The Horny Cow has been nominated in the ‘Rural Oscars’, the Countryside Alliance Rural Awards 2020. Richard and Lucy are thrilled.

“I chat to people in the shop about what we do,” says Lucy. “People love stopping for a photograph with our Highlanders – and The Horny Cow sign!”