5 Homesteading Skills to Practice while Camping


 

Camping is THE vacation choice for any homesteader looking to sharpen their skills even while they relax! Here are 5 skills to master in the wilderness.We took our daughter on her first camping trip last weekend. She loved it. All the fresh air, staying up late in front of the campfire, eating al fresco and trying her first roasted marshmallow put a permanent smile on her face (well, at least when she wasn’t crying because she had to go to bed). 

I loved camping as a kid. I still do! It’s a chance to go somewhere remote, power down and reconnect with nature. The only problem is, as a homesteader, it can be difficult to abandon the big to-do list to get away for a few days.

Homesteading is busiest during the warm-weather months, which just so happens to be the time of year when camping is best too. We have gardens to tend and, in many cases, livestock to care for. 

Personally, we are just at the tail-end (hopefully) of dealing with a bad pest problem that took out many of our seeds and seedlings this year. We had to resow, and we finally just got our transplants in the ground. We still had a bunch of tiny seedlings just starting out in the greenhouse too, and alongside them were seeds still taking their time to germinate. 

Seedlings, like babies, need a ton of care and attention, so I was hesitant to go away and risk losing our entire crop. Luckily we also have amazing family and friends who help out when we’re away, so we had people step up to do the watering and take care of our animals. But it’s still difficult to take “time off” from all the things that need being done as we get into growing season and gear up for summer.

As I stressed about leaving our chores behind for the peace of the great outdoors, I eased my mind by reminding myself that camping really is (or should be) a vital pastime of any homesteader. Not only do we need a break too, camping also offers a chance to learn and refine an array of important homesteading skills that we don’t always actually get to practice at home.

Going out into the wilderness for days at a time forces us to rely on ourselves, our skills and whatever provisions we have with us. There’s typically no “running to the store” if you forget or run out of something. There’s no flipping a light switch when it gets dark. And there’s no takeout to fall back on if you’re not into cooking that night.

As I thought about the valuable skills we would get to practice while camping, I felt less guilty about leaving “work” behind for a long weekend in the remote wilderness that we are lucky to have access to just a few hours from home. I also thought about the amazing experience we were giving our little girl. 
It is very important to me that she be exposed to lots of time outdoors and in nature from a young age, because the first step in learning to respect the environment is learning to love and appreciate it. Even if all my seedlings died, I reminded myself that it would be worth it just to have Evelyn experience her first camping trip.

5 Homesteading Skills to Practice while Camping

Evelyn and dad, about to try her first roasted marshmallow.

It was definitely worth it in the end. It was relaxing and refreshing and we came home with our clothes smelling like campfire (mmmm… Is it weird that I LOVE that smell?). And equally as important, we got a chance to put some of our skills to the test. Here are just a few of those skills we got just a little bit better at on our most recent camping trip…

 

1. Prepping

There’s nothing like going on a 5-day camping trip to throw you into “prepper” mode. You need to think about how much food you’ll need, what tools will be essential for (comfortable) survival, how you will obtain and store fresh drinking water, what you will use for shelter… 

Camping is sort of the ultimate prepping experience without there actually being a disaster. Once you get out to your location, you probably won’t be making any runs back to town. 

We were at least an hour or more from the closest town, so we planned to have everything we would need for 5 days. We brought enough food to last up to 10 days, because it’s always better to have more food than you need in a potential survival situation. And we brought all of the important tools, cookware and gear we needed to make ourselves a temporary home in the woods. We forgot some stuff too, but over all we survived comfortably during our time there.

The process of prepping for this trip did really open my eyes to how underprepared we are for an emergency though. Just shopping for food and supplies alone took up more than a full day. And packing everything up took a few solid hours as well. It made me think about how we would handle a situation where we had only minutes to evacuate our house. I have a couple bug-out bags and supplies ready just in case that happens, but if it took all this just to prepare for a camping trip, we are drastically underprepared for an emergency.

The great thing is, camping highlighted our shortcomings in this department, so we can make improvements before we find ourselves faced with a disaster situation.

 

2. Chopping wood & building fire

If you ever plan to live off-grid, you will likely be chopping a TON of firewood in your life. Even if off-grid living isn’t for you, you just never know when the power will go out and you’ll need to build a fire to keep warm or cook your food. 

Chopping wood and building a fire is something every homesteader should know how to do. As an added bonus, you might even want to learn to start a fire without a lighter or matches. My husband Ryan brought a flint with him this time and was able to start a fire with it, so it is something we will be keeping in our emergency/bug-out bags from now on.

I have to admit, Ryan is the fire guy. I don’t usually chop the wood or build the fire because he enjoys doing it. There’s something primal about it, so I let him have it;) But next time we go camping I definitely want to practice my wood-chopping skills. I know I can chop wood and I’m a pretty decent fire-builder, but I do get a bit lazy and let him do most of that work. I want to start taking on more of that responsibility and get a little more confident with these skills. If something were to happen to him (God forbid), it’s important that I be able to take care of our family without him. This is just one, small way to ensure I can do that just a little bit better.

 

3. Hunting/Fishing/Foraging

I used to hate hunting. Like, HATE it. As an animal lover and protector of the environment, I still do loathe trophy hunters and poachers, but over the years I’ve gained great respect for anyone who hunts, kills and processes their own meat. I have come to believe that if we are going to eat meat, we should at least be able to kill it and try doing so at least once in our lives.

5 Homesteading Skills to Practice while Camping

I would like to try hunting at some point, but I’m still a ways off from having the training and equipment necessary to just go off into the bush and take an animal. However we did get our fishing licences and a couple rods before this trip, and we had the opportunity to cast off in some of the richest fish-bearing waters anywhere in the world!

We camped on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island, where there are all kinds of salmon, cod, halibut, sole and dungeness crab for the taking. Unfortunately, we don’t have a boat and didn’t catch anything from the dock. We also didn’t know that we would NEED a crab trap for the dungeness crabs, so that will definitely be an investment worth making next time. We did, however, scoop up a ton of fresh oysters off the beach, and in the end we enjoyed two consecutive nights of oyster dinners!

As we live in an area renowned for its world-class oysters, and there were an abundance of big juicy ones on the beach when the tide went out, just begging to get in our bellies. We steamed them and then pan-fried them as there is always a warning about eating potentially-contaminated raw oysters. Not only were they super yummy (on their own and in our rendition of Oyster Po’boys on hotdog buns), but the feeling of satisfaction you get from providing your own food right from the source is indescribable. 

If we had to, I know how to forage for a few other things in our local environment. We could have eaten some seaweed or some edible greens from the forest, or some berries in summer. We didn’t this time around, but I believe it’s important to be able to identify at least a handful of edible plants that grow wild in your area. You just never know when they might become a valuable, or even vital food source.

 

4. Living & Cooking Off Grid

Now, if you’re living out of a massive RV complete with television, microwave and hot shower, you are not doing camping right! Sorry if I upset anyone with that statement, but while that makes for a nice vacation and is worthhile if you’re going to camp somewhere for extended periods of time, you at least need to power it down and spend some time cooking and washing up outdoors and enjoying some off-grid entertainment.

We met another camper while we were away who had brought his RV up to set up camp for the entire summer. Since we were in the site he usually stays in, he asked if he could set up some of his things while we were there. He brought us some cinnamon buns as a grateful gesture, so of course we obliged! 

5 Homesteading Skills to Practice while Camping

We watched as he set up an off-grid chest freezer in the woods just behind our site (to store the fish he would catch) and showed us how he sets up his outdoor shower beside it. He had a big drum to store water and told us he heats it with a propane water heater. This was an excellent example of someone who still made an effort to live outdoors and off-grid even though he had a big RV with all the bells and whistles available to him.

As for us, we got to practice cooking outdoors, living without running water and entertaining ourselves without TV or technology. We cooked over the fire and on our propane stove. We collected water from the creek and boiled it to heat it up. And we entertained ourselves with fishing, exploring, cards and a solid game of beer pong, as well as simply enjoying uninterrupted face-to-face family time with each other and, especially, with out baby daughter. Putting our phones down and switching off for a few days not only teaches us valuable skills, it is also one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves and our relationship with others.

 

5. Making Do or Doing Without

“Make do or do without” are words many homesteaders live by. Being resourceful, using the materials you have on hand and not being wasteful are founding philosophies of the homestead movement. Naturally, getting a chance to really practice we preach only helps to make us better at what we do.  

Like I said earlier, a camping trip somewhere remote forces you to prepare all of the food and supplies you will need for your time away if you can’t pop out to the store for something you need. Likewise, once you have arrived at your destination, you need to make do with whatever you have with you. If you forgot something, oh well! Run out of something? C’est la vie! You’ll have to find a way to use something else in place of whatever you don’t have, make it out of materials you do have on hand, or simply do without altogether.

This is a great lesson to learn whether you’re a homesteader or not. We live in a wasteful, consumer society where we are used to getting whatever we want whenever we want it. Learning to make do or do without teaches us to reuse and repurpose items, find novel solutions to problems, waste less and and see value in places we only saw junk before. It helps us to appreciate what we do have and be grateful for it. And that’s a lesson we all need a refresher course on from time to time.

In the end, our camping trip was a success. We forgot a few things that might have made life a little easier, we didn’t catch any fish, and when we arrived home a few of our smaller, more fragile seedlings had withered and died. But the lessons we learned were invaluable. And the time spent together, unplugged and out of reception, off-grid and huddled together around the campfire, was time we don’t make for each other often enough. 

So if, like me, you find yourself making excuses why you shouldn’t go camping, next time think of all the reasons you should. You might lose a few seedlings too, but what you gain while camping is priceless. So, what are you waiting for? Go play outside!

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CATEGORIES
HOMESTEADING
REAL FOOD
NATURAL LIVING

6 Comments

  1. Mandi Dolton

    Hi Anna.
    This is a wonderful read. I wanted to say thank you for the fabulous recipe for the castile soap to make washing liquid. I made it as my daughter has delicate skin, It smells lovely & made the clothes soft. x

    Reply
    • Tish Painter

      That is wonderful, Mandi!
      Thanks for the feedback and I am glad it works so well for your daughter! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Paul OConnor

    how do i join

    Reply
  3. Lynda Lu Gibb

    You had an amazing growing time! Now start planning for the next one! This Island has so much to show you!

    Reply
  4. Michelle Lewis

    I’ve not been camping for a few years now…think I need to put it on my summer to do list. I’m also going to take a harder look at a bug out bag. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Thanks for reading!

      Reply

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ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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It’s easy to romanticize homesteading, but the truth is that those homegrown vegetables, those freshly laid eggs, that loaf of bread rising on the counter, and that pantry full of home-canned food takes time, effort and dedication. It doesn’t “just happen” overnight!

But if you work on learning one new skill at a time and gain confidence in it before moving onto the next, one day you’ll be looking back and marvelling at how far you’ve come.

That’s where I’m at now. Life today looks a lot different than it did 10 years ago, when our homesteading and self-reliance journey was just beginning.

Back then we still lived in our city condo and were just beginning to dabble in all of this stuff. But my husband Ryan and I felt a sense urgency to start pursuing a more self-reliant lifestyle, and we committed to taking small steps, one day at a time to make that vision a reality.

Over the years we’ve continued to put one foot in front of the other, adding new skills and tackling new projects along the way that have helped us get to where we are today.

While there’s always more we want to learn and do, as I look around me right now, I’m so grateful that we took those first steps, especially considering what’s happened in the world over the past few years!

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There are so many reasons to grow your own food at home:

💰 Saves you money at the grocery store
🍴 Healthier than conventionally grown food
🔑 increases your overall food security
🫙 Gives you an abundance to preserve and share

But perhaps the number one reason is because it just tastes better!

Not only does food taste better when it’s freshly picked or allowed to ripen on the vine, there’s something about putting in the work to grow something from a tiny seed and then getting to see it on your dinner plate that just makes it so much more satisfying than anything you’ll ever buy from the store.

Plus, having to wait all year for fresh tomatoes or strawberries or zucchinis to be in season makes that short period when they’re available just that much more exciting!

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If you’ve been watching events unfold over the past few years and you’re feeling called to start “cutting ties” with the system and begin reclaiming your independence, The Society of Self-Reliance was made for you!

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Got out for an early morning harvest today. Been up since 3am, contemplating life, the future and the past, the order of things…

There is a rumbling right now, not just in North America, but around the world. Many of us can feel it, and know we are on the precipice of something big.

I’d been hearing about this new song that’s become an overnight viral sensation, written by an (until now) unknown singer named Oliver Anthony. His new song Rich Men North of Richmond has had 14 million views on YouTube in the past week alone, so I decided to check it out.

I also saw a clip of him playing a Farmers Market last week, and anything that has to do with Farmers Markets always has my attention;)

I can’t tell you how many tears I’ve already cried listening to that song. If you’ve heard it already, you probably know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t, I highly recommend giving it a listen. All I can say is it’s been a while since a song resonated so deeply with me, and in this strange new world, I know I’m not the only one.

One of the lines in Anthony’s song is “Livin’ in the new world, with an old soul,” and that’s something I think so many of us in the homesteading community can relate to.

Trying to cling to better days; To a simpler time; To the old ways, all while doing our best to get by in the new world.

The world has changed drastically in the last few years especially, and it’s set to change in immense ways over the next few years. Today I’m feeling thankful for people like @oliver_anthony_music_ who give a voice to what so many are feeling right now.

Know that if you’re feeling it too, you’re far from alone. And while the future may feel uncertain and even a little scary, remember that if we stand united, we the people are a force to be reckoned with.

(Continued in comments…)
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Another garlic harvest in the books!

Garlic is easily one of my favourite crops to grow. It’s pretty much a “set if and forget it” crop. We plant in the fall and leave it to overwinter, fertilize a couple times in the spring, start watering only once the ground starts to dry out, and then harvest in the summer. We can even plant a fall succession crop after our garlic if we want so it really makes great use of garden space all year round.

Over the years we’ve managed to become completely self-sufficient with garlic. We now grow enough to eat all year (and then some!), plus we save our own seed garlic and usually have extra to sell or give away. And around here fresh, organic garlic ain’t cheap, so it’s a good cash crop for anyone who’s serious about selling it.

It took me a few years to really get the hang of garlic, but it’s one crop I’m now very confident with (knock on wood, because it’s always when we make statements like this that next year’s crop fails! Lol.)

A while back I compiled a comprehensive guide to growing, harvesting and using garlic both as an edible and medicinal crop. This is usually only available as part of a paid bundle (or in the fall 2022 issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine if you’re a subscriber;), but for a limited time I’m offering it for free, no strings attached!

Plus you’ll also get access to my step-by-step video lesson on planting garlic so you can set yourself up for success with your garlic crop this year.

Comment “Garlic” below or head to thehouseandhomestead.com/garlic-guide to get your free copy!
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Going through photos and videos from our trip to the @modernhomesteadingconference and the vast majority are of our daughter having the time of her life!

Even if I personally got nothing else out of this gathering (which I most certainly did), watching her discover her own love of this lifestyle outside of what we do at home made my heart grow three sizes!

Homesteading is about so much more than homegrown food and self-reliance. It’s about passing on invaluable skills and an understanding of and respect for our connection to the land that provides for us to the next generation.

Being around so many other kids and families who are also pursuing a homesteading lifestyle helped show our little one that this is a movement that is so much bigger and greater than what our own family does on our little plot of land. This is a lifestyle worth pursuing, with a community unlike any other.

Glad to be back home and more excited than ever to involve my kids in everything we’re doing. But also, I think I speak for my whole family when I say we can’t wait to go back someday!
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If you’re simply looking for ways to save a little extra cash this summer and live well for less, here are 12 tried and tested frugal living tips for summer that you can use to save money this season without sacrificing a thing.
Head over using the link in my bio!
https://thehouseandhomestead.com/12-frugal-living-tips-summer/
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A brand new issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine just dropped!

In this issue:

🌱 How to forage and use five common edible and medicinal weeds

🏠 A sustainable, affordable alternative to traditional homes, greenhouses and more

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Tips for managing a homestead while raising a family (big or small!)

🫙 What to focus on when preserving food for true food security

🌹 How to grow and arrange your own cut flowers at home

🍓 The many ways to preserve summer berries (including 5 delicious recipes!)

💇How to make your own all-natural herbal hair care products at home

🧑‍🌾 Why “community sufficiency” is the new self-sufficiency

And more!

Visit modernhomesteadingmagazine.com (or click the link in my bio) to subscribe or login to the library and read the latest issue.

Plus, be sure to check out all of our past issues as well! There’s a wealth of information in our library on everything from farming and gardening to cooking and canning to herbal medicine, natural living and so much more!

*** This will be the last quarterly issue! ***

This little magazine has grown so much over the past 4 years and 32 issues, and now it’s time for another exciting evolution.

I’m excited to announce that we will be moving to an even more robust annual publication with the intention of offering the first ever print edition this fall if there is enough demand.

I’m also excited to announce the brand new Modern Homesteading Magazine blog, which is currently under construction and will be launching soon. While we will still be maintaining digital subscriptions, the blog will be accessible to all, free of charge, so that more people might benefit from the empowering and increasingly important information that we cover in each issue.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this issue happen! @homesteadingfamily @oatsandhoneyhomestead @omnivore.culture @thetaylor.leigh @doeraydesign (and more who don’t have IG pages;)

And a HUGE thank you to everyone who has subscribed over the years. Modern Homesteading Magazine would never have become what it is today without each and every one of you.

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If you’ve ever grown your own garlic, you might have noticed the spiral-shaped shoots that suddenly pop up in the centre of the stem, usually about a month or so before the garlic bulbs themselves are ready to be harvested.
These are garlic scapes, and believe it or not- they make delicious pesto! Get the recipe through the link in my bio- https://thehouseandhomestead.com/garlic-scape-pesto/
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This honey and chive blossom vinaigrette is a frugal, easy and healthy homemade salad dressing that pairs beautifully with fresh garden salads all season long.
Get the recipe through the link in my bio.
https://thehouseandhomestead.com/chive-blossom-vinaigrette/
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Whether you live in the city and grow a few herbs on your balcony, have a few backyard chickens in the suburbs or live in the country and have a larder full of enough home-canned food to survive the apocalypse, if living a more homemade, homegrown, self-sufficient lifestyle is important to you, Modern Homesteading Magazine was made for you!
Read it today through the link in my bio!
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This radish top pesto recipe makes good use of the edible radish greens that often get discarded once they’re separated from the root. The end result is a peppery, slightly spicy twist on a classic pesto recipe.
A perfect condiment for all your summer snacking!
https://thehouseandhomestead.com/radish-top-pesto-recipe/
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