Jonathan Caygill lives at Manor House Farm near Rylstone in the south east of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, not far from Skipton. The old farmhouse is nestled among trees and fields and looks east towards the rising land of Hall Fell, Out Fell and Rylstone Fell. There’s a thousand acres of land here, for North Country Cheviot sheep, suckler cows and Holstein Friesian dairy cows.
Manor House is part of the Bolton Abbey estate and has for many years been run by tenant farmers. Jonathan was born here, and now holds the tenancy. He also has land in Kilnsey, which gives him a good mix of millstone and limestone.
The farm produces 7000 litres of a milk a day from two milking sessions, and sells to Dales Dairies at Grassington. Little has changed in terms of the look of the farm. ‘We’ve done some re-seeding of the meadow land. We maintain all our drystone walls: 35 miles of drystone wall. No wall has been removed, no hedges have been removed. So in that respect it is pretty much as is.’ But much has changed in terms of the dairy business. ‘I can remember when 25-50% were in calf and we would be delighted. Now, if we are below 85%, we think something has gone wrong. It’s just we know so much more about cows.’