What is a fence post? That’s easy—it’s a post made out of metal or wood and installed in the ground to support the boards, wires, etc. that comprise a fence. Whether you’re marking a property line, keeping livestock in place, or blocking out wildlife, fences (and fence posts) are common critical infrastructure on farms.
So that’s the broad definition of a fence post. But let’s talk about the nitty-gritty definition—that “post made out of metal or wood” part. The livestock pastures on my farm are constructed with wooden fence posts purchased specifically for the project. The front side of the deer fence that surrounds my orchard is also built with wooden posts—4x4s, to be precise.
A Post Is a Post
There’s nothing magical about wooden fence posts. Sure, some are treated so they resist rot and last longer. But at their heart they’re simply long sections of wood measuring several inches in diameter.
So the next time you’re working on a fencing project and shopping for a bunch of fence posts, and you’re questioning whether the cost is worthwhile … why not consider harvesting your own fence posts from the trees on your farm?
If you have the time and tools, you can create beautiful fence posts that will last for years. Maybe your farm is dotted with trees like Black locust or cedar that produce durable, rot-resistant wood. Maybe you’re a skilled lumberjack with the equipment to safely fell trees of all sizes.
And maybe your farm has a sawmill so you can produce uniform fence posts of specific sizes from all the black locust trees you felled yourself.
Read more: Is a portable sawmill right for your farm?
That’s the perfect-world example. But making your own fence posts doesn’t have to be so complicated or fancy. A couple winters ago, a massive storm blew down many trees and branches across my farm, including a few small pines trees and part of a cedar trunk that were just the right length and diameter to turn into fence posts.
As part of the cleanup, I trimmed off all the smaller branches with pruning loppers, then used an electric chainsaw to cut the logs to suitable fence post lengths. I left the bark in place and wound up using my simple posts to construct a grape trellis in my orchard.
I know untreated pine wood won’t last very long in the ground, but that’s okay. The post was free, it cleaned up a mess, and it will be easy enough to replace the post down the road.
So there you have it: two examples of making your own fence posts from the trees on your farm. Whether you’re cutting up logs on a sawmill to make tidy fence posts, using windblown pine trees to make rough-hewn posts, or taking an intermediate approach, you’ll be harvesting a valuable product from your farm and saving the cost of purchasing fence posts.
That sounds like a win-win situation.