Our Plan To Naturally Preserve The Wood Structures On The Farmstead

When your building a 24 acre Farmstead with 15 major gardens, you have to use a lot of wood.  I mean a lot of wood.  Not a few hundred ft... more like thousands of feet of wood.  We are using it for the fences, chicken houses, barns, farmstead, greenhouse, decks, gates, and even for the buildings wood sidings.  

We needed to find a wood that was sustainably grown and harvested and was cheap.  Not cheap as not good, but cheap per ft.  That wood turned out to be your basic old Douglas Fir used around here for construction.  They use it for framing and other non seen locations.  Everyone said, you can't use Douglas Fir outside, it will rot, it is soft and it will fall apart!  You need a hard wood, like Teak, or maybe something like Red Wood.  It has tannins to help preserve the wood.

The problem with Red wood or Teak was cost.  We would be talking $400,000 or more if we used Teak. Once 8ft board can cost $150 dollars.

They are right about Douglas Fir being soft.  But everything else, I think just isn't true.  Because no matter what type of wood you use, it is about how you finish it.

We have decided to use two very old techniques to preserve and color most of our wood.  The first technique has been used in Japan for 100's of year if not 1000's.  They simply burn it.  By lightly burning the wood, you create a carbonized effect and the wood turns hard as a rock.  It also colors the wood and protects it from pest.  Bugs hate the taste of charred wood I guess.  

We decided to do a test on a Douglas Fir 2x4x8 board six months ago.  We charred it and then left it sitting in the mud on the farmstead.  After 6 months of moisture, heat, bugs, and being partially buried,  We checked on it every 30 days or so to see if it has changed or rotted away.  I am happy to report, it is still hard as a rock... black and looks exactly like it did the day we charred it.  Pretty amazing.

Photo of Charring from charredwood.com

Photo of Charring from charredwood.com

Our Chicken Tractor getting the first layer of Pine Tar on the wood.  We built the Chicken Tractor in our wood shop and shaped all the wood.

The other technique is to use Tar from slow kilned pine trees.  It is called Pine Tar and it comes from Sweden.  Amazing stuff.  You mix  50 / 50 Pine Tar and Raw Linseed oil.  We also added black iron oxide to the mix to create a black finish.   The pine tar also preserves the wood and has been used for 100's of years in Sweden.

Some areas we will only use Pine Tar and other areas, like the large fence and gates in the front of the farmstead, we will do both.  Lightly burn the finish fences with a large torch and then apply the Pine Tar.  The idea is that it needs a lot of protection and carbonizing it would be a good idea.

Checkout the photos of the chicken tractor getting it's pine tar finish.  

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