Long ago, when The Dale was still offering horse-riding weekends, Marlene Kinver was drawn northwards from the West Country. She’s been here ever since.
Now responsible for some 240 head of rare breed sheep (Jacob and Rylands) that are distributed over patches of farmland throughout the parish, Marlene is an object lesson in diversification. She laughed when I button-holed her at the Table Top Sale in Sinderhope Community Centre: “It’s that I have to change coats with every different job, you see,” she chuckled. “There’s my bus-driving coat, my shepherding coat, my horse-riding outfit, my motorcyle leathers, my cleaner’s get-up, and my sheep-dog training gear.”
Lately Marlene’s been taking care of the Housty farm in Catton. With her two horses, half a dozen sheep dogs that need training, and all those sheep, she’s busy from morning ’til night. I remember stopping by her parked car a couple of decades ago, up beyond Redwell corner, when it was laid up with a flat, and a police officer pulled over to wonder what we were doing. He was concerned that the corner was dark and our vehicles were not well illuminated. Marlene pulled her ‘old shepherd’ routine and with an air of some bemusement, the officer told her to be careful, before driving on. Juggling all her responsibilities, you actually have to be quite canny, and she is, but she tries not to let on.
She’s one of the few people I know who can return Nigel Bayne’s barbed insults with aplomb, as she demonstrated so well at this year’s Charity Auction.
Marlene found some time a week or so ago to forward some photographs of her special friends, her Jacob’s and Ryland’s sheep, her sheep dogs in training, and her beloved horse. Thanks Marlene, and best wishes on your many countryside activities!