Michaela has a lot on her hands. Two toddlers and a busy life farming in Hawke’s Bay. Her hands get a hammering. She calls them “ugly”, “strong”, “dry”, but Michaela’s hands are real world hands, capable, experienced and a testament to the hard work she does at home and on the farm.
Michaela already had two degrees when she headed to Montana State University in the US to complete the professional horse shoeing course there, bringing together theory, practice and hands-on experience. Her work brings credence to her passion for horses and their wellbeing, but it’s physical, dirty and at times painful.
“A few blacksmiths work with gloves to protect their hands but I feel I don’t get the precision in my work with gloves on. My hands are damaged and I have scars from burns I got from the metal flakes that flick off onto my hands and burn me,” she explains.
“I’m conscious of my hands and the way they look.”
Michaela is well versed in long days and physical labour. She and husband Clem spent time working as contract musterers in the Australian Outback. It was hard work in temperatures reaching 45°C.
But she says even that isn’t as hard as having two toddlers. There’s only a 16 month gap between Maggie and Sid.
“Having the children has been the hardest thing I’ve done, hands down! The long hours, being sleep deprived. I found it hard to function on so little sleep,” she admits. Michaela also struggled with letting go of the things she’d loved so much before the kids came along. “I found it hard to say goodbye to my life as I knew it. I led such an active life and I found it hard to give up stuff I enjoyed, like surfing and horse riding.”
Now, her hard working hands are good at juggling as she keeps in balance the needs of the farm and the children.
“My days are busy. Clem is a farmer so he works daylight hours. In summer that means he’s out the door at 5am and home at 9 or 10pm. In the winter he’s gone by 6.30 in the morning and home around 6.30 at night,” says Michaela, who tries to stay organised with the help of a diary and lists. One day a week Sid and Maggie are at daycare so Michaela plays catch up. “It gives me a day to work and get organised, or if necessary, pick up the pieces of a chaotic week.”