Ian and Blanche




3.1.2 Expansions and Improvements

Gilella, 1938, Harvesting OatsIan realized he had to do what he swore he never would—go into debt to obtain more equipment and more land.

In 1934 he bought a new McCormick-Deering 20-horsepower rubber-tired tractor,58  and this machine proved far more reliable than the Fordson.

He also leased, and later bought, two lots comprising 900 acres of better than average farmland north of Gilella called Riverview59  .60  The west lot, an early selection of 160 acres of particularly good ground, lay entirely within the boundary of the property called "Moree," owned by the Fairweather family. The larger lot included an orchard that yielded apricots of an exquisite flavor impossible to match commercially.

Gilella and Neighboring Properties
Gilella and Neighboring Properties

Once the family had all the apricots they could eat or preserve, Ian gave away the rest to anyone who fancied them. But there were some who preferred to help themselves. One party of apricot rustlers made a practice of surreptitiously driving up to the trees and taking the fruit in bulk. Fuming over this act of thievery, Ian made a record of the tire marks—a unique pattern from four different tread styles—and took it to Tambellup’s one-man police station-residence with the idea of lodging a complaint. Just as he stepped up to the office door, however, he noticed the incriminating pattern of tire marks on the policeman’s61  private driveway! Ian backed away and headed for the pub.

Riverview gave access to a deep stretch of the Gordon River where the water remained relatively fresh after the river stopped running in summer. This source of water proved a lifesaver during the drought of 1939. The catchment dams normally used to water the livestock dried up and most of the river water became too salty for stock, but Ian was able to save his sheep by moving them to Riverview. He also hauled water, a thousand gallons at a time, for the cart horse, the cows and other stock remaining on Gilella. The family had for drinking what remained of a 1000-gallon tank of rainwater from the previous winter. For washing they used fresh if somewhat soupy water from a spring-fed dam that did not quite dry up).

George Iddles (left) and Ian, nearing completion of the mouseproof shedSince Alexander had given him Gilella only for life, rather than outright, Ian felt reluctant to make any capital improvements on it. The one large exception was a mouse-proof shed that he had George Iddles erect near the center of the property. Like everything George had a hand in, the shed was in its way a thing of beauty, built to precise specifications and to last a lifetime. But Alexander was not impressed. Taken to view the shed, he remarked only that he didn’t believe in sheds and refused to get out of the car for a closer look.

Continue reading: 3.1.3 Tambellup Diversions

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3. Ian and Blanche (1929-1975) Blanche (-1988)

3.1 Weathering the Depression (1929-1945)

3.1.1 Early Struggles

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3.1.2 Expansions and Improvements

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3.1.3 Tambellup Diversions

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58. The McCormick-Deering tractor has been restored by Graeme McRae and is currently on his farm "Kurrabi" at Narrikup (Figure 2.2).

59. The seller’s name was [first name unknown] Daddow. Ian and Blanche usually referred to the property as "Daddow’s."

60. The Gittins brothers had meanwhile expanded their holding with the acquisition of "Parker’s," also shown in Figure 3.1.

61. Better leave out that policeman’s name, just to be on the safe side.