Let me be the first to admit that I am no fan of DIY partly because I have better things to do with my time but mainly because I have a Midas-like effect in that everything I touch breaks. Still, there are some projects that those of us with ten thumbs can enjoy. From basic tree houses that you can build with the kids to hassle-free (and tasty) hobbies, below are a few ways to waste away a weekend at home without feeling like you have nothing to show for your efforts.
1. Make your own biltong
Making your own beef, game or ostrich biltong that is as good as your local biltong store is not as tricky as you might think. Commercially available cabinets equipped with a fan, light and hooks are the only equipment you need. A basic biltong mix would include a kilogram of meat, one cup of vinegar, biltong spice and some additives such as bicarbonate of soda or Worcestershire sauce. The basic recipe would involve placing the meat in a dish, letting it soak in the mix of vinegar and additives for a few hours before hanging it in the cabinet for a few days. The type of vinegar, spices and how much eat or fan drying you expose your meat to will ultimately determine the success of your biltong. Take a peek at this guide.
2. Brew your own beer
Once again, for lazy people such as I there are kits that are available online. While the more serious microbrewer will go through various steps that include mashing, sparging and boiling, you will be able to make a drinkable beer by using the stock standard kits where all you need to do is add various ingredients in specific stages. A few key points before you start brewing:
Read this beginner brewer’s article on the Worthog Brewers Club website - Brewing at first can be daunting if you don’t understand terminology. Some of the steps listed can be left out when using a kit beer as you could purchase rather than make a syrup while adding hops is a nice extra, but not essential.
Hygiene is of utmost importance as beer is easily tainted in the boiling, fermentation and bottling process.
Temperature control is vital. If you add yeast when the temperature is outside of the recommend range (it differs between beer types) you will find that the fermentation process will be stunted. Similarly, extreme or fluctuating temperatures will hamper fermentation, leaving you with flat beer (you could always keep bad batches for guests you don’t like).
The Worthog Brewers Club website provides links to stockists and suppliers, countrywide.
3. Build a tree house
By now, your partner may have had enough of your beer and biltong making. Chances are you will be banished from the house. Fortunately, that’s not such a bad place to be IF you have your own tree house. This handy video guide is a good place to start.
Choose a disease-free, sturdy tree with thick trunk and deep roots.
Draw up a plan using accurate measurements.
Save a ton of work by asking your hardware store to cut any boards you purchase to size. It’s like having a ready-made tree house kit.
Lash boards to the tree with rope rather than using nails: this damages the tree less.
Following the design in the video above will give you a tree house you could almost live in, but they needn’t be much more complicated than a platform secured between a few branches.
A major benefit of a project such as this is that you can claim it’s for the kids.