Family take on historic land in Ken's memory
THE family of a dale shepherd who died earlier this year have taken tenancy of a historic field in his memory.
Ken Brown died on February 27, just days after his 65th birthday, doing what he loved best – tending to sheep.
Mr Brown kept his flocks of Swaledales and Texels on fields around Barningham, including the village’s historic Bull Acre.
The farmer was born on February 23, 1954, in Darlington. His family lived briefly in Swaledale before moving to Teesdale where he attended Balliol School.
His sister, Susan, said: “He worked with sheep through school and then with our dad. He worked with them his whole life.”
Mr Brown bred several successful Swaledales which went on to sell for thousands of pounds and their offspring were equally successful.
His most significant achievement came shortly after the outbreak of foot and mouth disease when Mr Brown sold one of his tups for £20,000.
His sister, Linda, said: “I was watching him when he was in the ring. He was so proud. He took after our dad. They said if you didn’t know where Ken was, you knew where he had been because of him getting his sheep ready.”
Mr Brown had considerable success at agricultural shows and earned a small breeders championship at Bowes and Eggleston.
Linda said: “The one he was really chuffed with was getting champion at Muker Show.”
Mr Brown was also in high demand as a dry stone waller with a backlog of work. He was known throughout Barningham for his labour, which included mending stone walls and fences.
His family said he took up the tenancy of Bull Acre around the time of the foot and mouth outbreak.
The field is Barningham parish meeting’s only asset.
Parish chairman and village history group member Jon Smith said the field is called Bull Acre because in the past it was part of the tenancy agreement that the occupier should keep a bull.
This was because few farmers at the time could afford to own their own bull, he said. The bull kept in the field would then be used annually to service the cows of all the farmers in the area.
The parish meeting has agreed to award the tenancy of the field to Mr Brown’s family.
His brother, Ivan, said: “As a tribute we are trying to keep in the family as many sheep as we can.”
Linda added: “All the land Ken had we are keeping in his memory.
“We are heartbroken. It has been three months and it is still hard to accept.”
A service was held for Mr Brown at Barningham Church during which £1,000 in donations were received. The cash was divided between the church and the Great North Air Ambulance Service.
He was laid to rest alongside his father Joseph Walker Brown at Bowes.
Mr Brown is survived by his mother Joan, sisters Linda, Susan and Margaret, and brothers Ivan, David and Keith.