A woman who spent her life among the animals has died aged 76.
Marlene Hodgson and her husband Tony kept a smallholding at Denby Dale for more than 50 years and at the height of their business had more than 1,000 pigs, calves, bullocks and hens.
Marlene worked as a mender at textile firm Kenyons in the village before marrying Tony in 1960 following his two-year National Service in the army.
The couple, who met when Tony was 20 and Marlene just 17, built their own house on land they bought at Hollin Edge – with Marlene helping Tony, a joiner by trade, by labouring and mixing cement.
The daily routine saw Marlene getting up at 5.45am each day to feed the animals while Tony delivered farm-bottled milk.
As one of few women in a mainly male environment, Marlene was a familiar face at Huddersfield and Holmfirth markets. The quality of the Hodgsons’ produce meant they won Huddersfield cattle market’s award for the best fattened pigs seven years running.
Tony said: “Our pigs were always in demand from the butchers who went to the market. Marlene would join the butchers in the canteen and buy them a drink. They loved to talk to her.”
Marlene always made a point of changing from her work clothes and wellies into something more glamorous for her weekly trips to market.
Interviewed by the Examiner in 1986, she admitted spending a “fortune” on clothes – but nothing on alcohol or cigarettes. She allowed herself half an hour each Wednesday to visit the village dress shop and one hour a week for shopping in Huddersfield.
Tony said the couple cut back on their many animals as they got older, but still had about 400 hens.
Marlene graded and boxed up the eggs for sale at Thorncliffe Farm Shop in Emley where she would delight members of staff by handing out chocolate bars.
Tony added: “Even the staff who didn’t like working on Saturdays were happy to go to work if she was coming.”
The couple did not have a holiday for many years, but Marlene was happy to look after other people’s pets while they were away.
“She didn’t want to go abroad,” said Tony. “She always said she was happy with her life here and it gave her everything she needed.
“She just wanted to be with her hens, dogs and cats. She just said: ‘I like this way of life.’ She had a name as a very nice person.”
Marlene gave birth to twins, Ian and Tina, in 1961. The couple also have seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held at 12.30pm on Thursday, December 8, at St John the Evangelist Church, Upper Denby. The service will be followed by a private cremation.