Maranoa man forging ancient craft into unique business
In a shed on a cattle farm perched atop a rolling hill of Maranoa grassland 30km out of town, Roma Mick Henricks practises the ancient and often forgotten art of metal forging.
The 36-year-old father-of-three has managed to forge his passion and his art into a business.
Mr Henricks spends his days crafting and forging tools by hand, practising the ancient craft using modern equipment.
“I just love tools,” he said.
“In today's day, they’re not a necessity like they once were.”
“I feel they are.”
He calls his place the Farmer’s Forge, and it was born out of his longstanding passion for steelwork.
Inside he has dozens of handcrafted axes, packaged in leather ready to give to customers.
His forge is suspended from the ground and can heat up to over 900C.
There is fresh metal straight from the refinery in Brisbane, ready to craft into tools.
He has everything he needs to make hammers, axes, knives, and more for his online customer base.
The Farmer’s Forge started in March 2020 after Mr Henricks took over the cattle farm and had the time to engage in his passion, and hopes to turn it into a sustainable business.
“To see something as plain as a hammer and able to put your spin on it,” he said about his love for his craft.
He isn’t aware of anyone else in southwest Queensland doing anything similar.
Throughout his workshop sits a few failed experiments and heads that didn’t turn out properly, but for the largely self-taught journeyman, this is all part of the learning process.
He was gifted a course by his wife Mardi more than 10 years ago, but otherwise has gotten to making quality tools through trial and error.
“You learn so quickly, it’s probably the best way to learn,” he said.
But does Mr Henricks consider himself a blacksmith? No.
“I don’t like being called a blacksmith,” he said.
“Those guys out there they have done it the hard way.
“They fully deserve it.
“I’m really more of an artisan, using blacksmith skills.”
He sees blacksmithing as a lifetime trade that usually needs a formal education, but he would love to be seen as one down the track.
Mr Henricks doesn’t see success as the money he makes from it - the most enjoyable part for him is the process of making the items.
He’s less interested in turning them out.
His tools are sold to customers via his social media accounts, and his Facebook page which has more than 1300 likes at the time of publication.
But to make money out of it, there’s quite a bit of administrative work that goes on the side, which distracts from Mr Henrick’s crafting.
So, the Farmer’s Forge teamed up with the newly formed Maranoa Innovation Network to help handle some of the business tasks and provide advice and advocacy for the new business.
Mr Henricks wanted to thank his wife Mardi and give full credit to her for helping out make his dream into reality.
Anyone interested in buying products from the Farmer’s Forge can visit their Facebook here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.