Are we waiting to appreciate the now?


The fact that so many of us are postponing our satisfaction, happiness, contentment or joy is heartbreaking. We are waiting for the right conditions to arise before we can settle into the moment and know that we’ve made it. For me on the homestead it’s : “When we have hot running water, when the house is done, then we’re eating the yields from all the fruit and nut trees we’ve planted…”

There is no later, and I can’t sacrifice the present for some idealized future. Is it really worth forgoing the present for future gains?

In seeking balance during this seemingly ever busy summer I took a step back from the massive of undertaking of building a house, tending food forests, keeping up with annual gardens, building infrastructure etc. to look at where we’re at, where we’re going and what the roadmap looks like.

I know we’re not alone in this, although for others the conditions may be different, but the sacrifice is the same. Big tasks, life goals, and even sheer survival can be daunting and the drive to accomplish and progress can push us into unhealthy spaces.

I’m writing from a little break from it all that we’re taking. I can say I’ve gotten into unhealthy spaces all too often, driven by the impetus to secure our base needs or to push for progress on a variety of projects. The work never ends, and the itch for expansion is real. Inspiration and vision motivate action, but there’s a point when the push to accomplish overshadows the ability to appreciate the process.

For us the pressure we often feel is 100% self imposed, and yet we still push ourselves to a point where we fall out of balance.

I’ve heard this story from many folks seeking to live a life of integrity, connected to the natural world. In seeking the simple life there’s often an overwhelming amount of planning, labor, input and time involved in manifesting such a vision. People get burned out, finances suffer, relationships break…

Why is this story all too common?

There are many layers to this, but it seems in our society (be it conventional or alternative), we succumb to the struggle where we are waiting for things to change until we sink deeply into the moment and truly inhabit the space we’re in. Just waiting for the next things before happiness arrives. So what are we really waiting for?

I have been pushing progress on our house build, wanting to meet a goal of winter inhabitation. There’s so much between here and there I feel as if I need to be working 100% of my waking life. I have cedar posts to notch out for a timber frame, framing to figure out for the second storey, roofing considerations, water lines, electrical and more. Wren is on a similar page too and is tending much of the gardens, but a lot of this feels like it falls on my shoulders.

Work has become an addiction and like other addictions it takes me out of balance and away from the present moment. To the point of exhaustion, frustration, emotional breakdown, neglect. It’s not worth it, yet I’ve found myself succumbing to the voice of “not enough”.

Enough in my mind is an unattainable goal. It’s a bar that moves further as I approach it. There’s always more work that lies ahead. This is a fact of subsistence farming, homesteading and building a house; the work never ends. It’s not the amount of work that is the issue, rather my approach and view of work. I’ve been going about it all wrong, and listening to the out of reach feedback loop.

Taking a breather from it all to perceive from a bird’s eye view reminds me of the bigger picture of life and how little all the issues are in my life compared to the great wide world. I’m safe, have access to plenty of clean water, am well fed, and have a roof over my head. It’s not a life or death situation, but I’ve been acting like it is.

I’m in need of a reboot and that’s just what I’m going to give myself.

Season of Harvests


As we transition into late summer, I can feel fall in the air. Through the cooler mornings and evenings, the slower growth of the grass and plants and by so many things going to seed. We are in the seed collecting times and it’s a great activity in the evenings to go to my flower plants and save their brown odd seeds.

Along with harvests, we’re putting away some foods this year. As we are so busy, we aren’t pushing ourselves too hard on this front, but I have made a few batches of pasta sauce that I’ve frozen in baggies. These Opalka tomatoes pictured sliced in half below are amazing paste tomatoes that I’ll definitely grow again for these purposes!

We are also getting a lot of growth on the Okra plants. This is “burgundy okra” and I like it – but then again, I’ve liked every Okra variety I’ve ever grown. It’s such an easy plant to grow and I am a huge fan of okra sautéed in oil with salt and cooked low for a while. Mmm mm!

The high tunnel waned a bit in the heat, but we put on a good deal of mulch and gave some deep waterings and it’s coming back. The tomatoes, peppers and figs are rocking! The cucumbers are out and we’re going to do a cover crop of ripper beans in their place. We’ll start some fall/winter crop seeds like kale and other fav greens to put in after the ripper beans.

Today Ini planted Okinawa, a perpetual spinach variety from Japan. Though frost sensitive (we usually bring it in), it grows quite large for as long as you let it! It’s a tasty cooked green. We set it here in between two figs, which are doing quite well in the high tunnel.

Tending the plant nursery

Ini up-potted and heavily watered all of the plants in our plant nursery. Some of these will be planted out in permaculture guilds around our house once much of the land-works are complete and others will be for sale as our nursery gains more steam over time. It was so fun this morning to play in the garden together – it’s both of our true passions and with all of the other work on the homestead (read: building a house!), it can be easy to get caught up in what HAS to happen and forget how much we love gardening and working with plants!

Aronia berries (Aronia melanocarpa) are starting to ripen! I have eaten a few and don’t really mind the strong chalky flavor knowing how high they are in nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants! Haha! I’m having to hold myself back from harvesting because I’ve read that though they look ripe in late July/early August, they’ll be most ripe come mid-August. I’m looking forward to making low sugar syrups, freezing some and maybe vinegaring a batch.

Also my first harvest of elder berries from the land this morning! I will freeze these (taken off the stems) and wait til I get a larger harvest before I start processing them into syrups, vinegars and other such things. Exciting!

We’ve waited a few years for our plants to start fruiting and this is an exciting summer because so much is doing so well!

Walls Up~ Starting to Look Like a House!


This morning some good friends came over at 7am to help put frames up! We are so blessed with some good community!

Ini and I have been working hard in the background building frames, but we can’t put them up alone. It’s a true testament to the power of “many hands make light work” that early in the morning on a Sunday friends come over to help us and get shit done!!

We’ve been largely working on prepping everything for these major communal pushes. The wood is simply too heavy to lift on our own… we gotta save our backs!

We love that it’s local wood and we’re trying to use eco-friendly materials as much as possible, but we need materials that will boost the longevity of the building like that tar paper shown above that goes under the pressure-treated sill plate. Not ideal, but we won’t have to fix it in 10 years!

Mindy, Billy & Brian, all local neighbors, came over and we got the first 3 walls up in a hurry as they were already assembled – we just needed the people power. As the nut and washer screwed firmly onto the anchor bolt, I felt something click into place. All of our hard work is paying off and the house is taking shape. So much goes into an endeavor like this and seeing these steps materialize into something increasingly house-shaped is amazing to my eyes.

We worked from 7am to 11am. It’s simply been way to hot to work into the midday sun.

As our wise old friend Gene told us recently, only mad dogs and Englishmen go out into the noonday sun….

We completed a few more frames (Ini had all of the wood cut and lined up already) and then called it a day and feasted on some cucumbers, tomatoes, cinnamon basil with crackers and potatoes with hot sauce – all from the garden. We feel extremely grateful to be surrounded by such good people.

We’re already hankering to get the rest of the ground level frames set up. Hoping to have another work party this week and rock it out.

After that we’ll set up the cedar logs we felled and peeled last week and get them onto their pier resting places. Then we can secure the ground story and get started on the second story! Then roof!

It’s an extremely satisfying project to build ones own house. Plenty of patience is needed for such an endeavor and we’re reminded by many good souls to enjoy the process and not try to rush it along. As goal-oriented individuals who work quickly, we’re learning to pace ourselves and take it easier than our minds tell us to. Not everyone gets to build their own house, a good neighbor told us, and he reminded us to enjoy the process. We’re doing our best in that regard while also being absolutely stoked to keep moving forward.

Of course the heat slows us down as it’s 95 (in the shade) most days so we’re limited to the mornings and evenings — but let me tell ya, Ini does still get out during that midday heat and I’m not quite sure how… mad dog Englishman….

Reflections from the Garden


This summer has been a great year in the gardens at Mountain Jewel. We’re seen the effects of a wetter year and ever increasing fertility; our gardens are bursting with life. Our first season of growing in our high tunnel  has yielded hundred of pounds of cucumbers and tomatoes already. While our main focus is on perennial agriculture we no doubt grow plenty of annual crops. Some crops are of course hardier and more willing to thrive under neglect than others, and as such we’re always open to feedback from the natural world to guide our gardening habits.

Ini with Delicata squash

Before moving here, folks told us we couldn’t grow food in the rocky soil of the Ozarks. While the fertility and tilth of the soil didn’t draw us here, claiming our food sovereignty is a major impetus for our lifestyle choices. We are keenly aware that with enough observation, experimentation and effort, food can be raised anywhere. Those who garden know there is always some element of uncertainty or struggle to deal with in the gardens, but what can we do to ensure high quality nutrient dense produce to feed our families and communities without being overtaxed?

We focus on feeding the soil food web and considering the life in the soil in our practices.  I’d like to share some insights and observations from the short time that Wren and I have made while raising food on our homestead. 

In years past we’ve seen hornworms defoliate dozens of tomato plants, cringed as squash began setting luscious fruit only to be killed by the toxic injections of squash bugs. Brassicas reduced to skeletons and so many plants struggling to get their needs met in dry low fertility soil.

We could baby some of the plants along, but we prefer to practice what Mark Shepard (a prominent force in restoration agriculture) dubbed S.T.U.N (Strategic Total Utter Neglect).

The point is is finding out what can survive and even thrive while being exposed to S.T.U.N. The next step is taking this feedback and putting it into action. 

This approach does not mean completely forgetting about plants, but rather creating conditions and choosing the right plants. This approach often means loss and while this can be hard after babying seedlings for weeks and seeing the succumb to this or that, but it also illustrates what works and how to shift efforts in the future. We’re lost plenty of trees and countless veggies to this practice, but we’re better off for it. 

Boysenberries thrive here. More, please!

In past years the only winter squash that yielded any fruits were the ones that volunteered in the compost pile. This year we’ve planted many squash family friends from a variety of species; moschata, maxima and pepo. Some of each have already succumbed to an early death due to squash bugs. What we did notice is that the plants that are least affected have the highest moisture and fertility and are notably more vigorous. By far the healthiest of all squash received the grey water from our outdoor kitchen.

What this tells me is that rather than laboring to exclude the bugs, applying natural pesticides or hand picking them, I can create better conditions for them, practice S.T.U.N. and hope to still gather a harvest without too much work. We are also experimenting with ranging chickens to see if they can knock populations down. 

We all know potatoes are a great way to grow a lot of calories with little effort. While we love our spuds, we diversify our staples by growing sunchokes and skirret that also provide delicious tubers. These plants not only thrive with little to no inputs, they also multiply year after year and provide beneficial insect forage and habitat. In fact they grow so well that you’ll be up to your eyes in them before you know it. So choose the place to plant them wisely. 

While we’re waiting for the hundreds of trees and shrubs we’ve planted on our land to start yielding, we have some time to dial in what works for our diet, our landscape and our labor budget.

Many of of brassicas got devoured this year, but the abundant wild greens offer nutrient dense fare with nearly zero effort. Plants like purslane, lambs quarter and chickweed have kept us in greens at times when our domestic crops failed or were between successions. Practicing S.T.U.N. is a lesson in letting go, but it is not a truly passive approach. Each time we lose a plant, we have a chance to learn more about its needs. It also allows us to take a step back and see if there’s a better way to meet our needs as in the wild green example above. We are evolving with our gardens.

The indomitable purslane… thrives in any heat

I’m not afraid of hard work, although it’s great when you realize that hard work isn’t needed.

Lay a heavy layer of mulch and you’ll soon forget about troubles with weeds (well mostly). Prioritize wild greens and encourage their spread and attending to finicky leafy crops may seem less important. Plant hardy and well adaptad tree species and in time you’ll be glad you did. Plant more of everything than you think you’ll need and be more OK with loss. Cultivating a thriving garden takes patience and hard place-based earned wisdom. It is a co-evolution- of soils, saved seeds, letting go of some endeavors and leaning more heavily into others. It’s a wild journey that I’m glad we’re on!

Harvest Times in the Garden


This a busy time of year in the gardens and at our homestead, Mountain Jewel. The house build is taking up a lot of our time and we’re so thankful to have my parents here (@birdsinparadise) helping with the build!

Luckily we have a lot of fresh fruits & veggies to share with them and cocreate some awesome meals. Zucchini, purslane and cucumbers, anyone?

Above you can see a sweet little handful of berries. With so much hard work put into the homestead year after year, eating the fruits of our labor is extraordinarily satisfying and promising.

Pictured are some black raspberries, juneberries and goumi berries. We are especially in love with these Red Gem goumi berries. I ate a few too many at their astringent stage (I was so excited!) and have learned that they’re at they’re best when they’re nearly falling off the vine!

One plant that we have in abundance is Purslane! I’m so thankful to have such an adventurous mom who I can give something a little atypical (to the modern diet) and she whips up something amazing!

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) aka Verdelagos in spanish, is an incredibly nutrionally rich plant that boasts Omega 3s and ALAs (only found in fish!) . It grows like a weed (and as a weed) which causes many people to skip over it, but it’s one of the most heat tolerant — read: heat thriving — crops available. It grows faster than malabar spinach and I think it’s tastier.

This is all a part of our effort to thrive while seeing what is available. To me, this is aligning with a permaculture lifestyle.

My amazing mom made a DELICIOUS pesto pasta using purslane!

Check it out!

Here she is also making a special treat that Luci would love to get her hands on. This is just a teaser – I’ll let her reveal what we were eating that night!!

Harvest Begins

It’s also that time of year that the harvests are really starting to churn out!

Pictured is our first tomato (((almost))) ripe! We love snacking on fresh tomatoes and cannot wait! Any day now.. Then I’m sure will be eating them with nearly every meal.

One thing we are already having overwhelming amounts of is cucumbers and zucchinis — and it’s only the first week of harvests. We planted 30 cucumber plants (!?!!) so this year we’re basically going to be giving them away to friends and neighbors constantly. Yesterday we made 4 quarts of lacto fermented cucumbers with the harvest you see above.

What are you favorite ways to eat cucumbers? We eat them straight off the vine, love a good vinegar cuc salad, sliced up, and of course pickles!

Pictured above with my hand on it is the Bolivian “cucumber”, Achocha. These seeds were gifted to us at the Baker Creek Spring Planting Fest and we’re excited to try them out. After weeding the bed, I put them in the shade (of a goumi & Wild False Indigo). I also put in some horehound (seed started by a friend) and Basil (Emily variety).

Man I love growing all the green things!!

How does your garden grow? Look forward to sharing little snipits all summer long and of course keeping y’all updated on the house build!

Paw Paw Grafting: Photo Log


Paws paws have quickly become near and dear to us at Mountain Jewel.

Upon moving to the Ozarks, we were so excited to find oodles of wild paw paws on and near our property. Last fall we harvest a lush bounty of wild fruit. It’s safe to saw were fanatical about paw paws!

The paw paws on our homestead haven’t set fruit in the past few years and this may have to do with low genetic diversity. 2 or more varieties are best for pollination. Grafting selected cultivars onto wild rootstock will increase productivity and boost diversity.

The distinguished Paw Paw, Asimina triloba. A wild specimen on our land

As with all our permaculture endeavors we seek to witness and observe the natural processes before intervening. After seeing heavy fruit set on a nearby patch, and discovering more and more patches on our land, we wanted decided to take action and marry select paw paw genetics onto our wild patches.

Tools of the trade:

Here you see the complete grafting kit. We made a video of the process & share it on our  blog likely tomorrow. Pictured: paw paw scions (Mango, Wells, Prolific, NC-1 & Overlease varieties), sharp pruning saw, secateurs, masking tape, grafting film, fresh utility blade, & a pen 🙂

Sharp blade cutting the Paw Paw at an angle so water doesn’t settle on the base.

In the past we’ve attempted whip and tongue but had no success. I’ve since learned the importance of wrapping the scion with grafting film to maintain moisture. On past grafts, the scions dried out before leafing out. Since visiting a university fruit station and seeking out information online, I’ve honed in on a few tidbits that will hopefully increase our success. 

Scion cut at an angle on the base (with at least two buds remaining) which will go into the base.
Scion placed “just so” into the Cambium of the wild paw paw root stalk. This is a Bark Inlay Graft.

We are choosing to focus on the bark inlay graft. This comes recommended from the paw paw master himself Neil Peterson. The advantages are numerous. Firstly scion and rootstock don’t need to match and large diameter stock can be used. The cuts are simple and a strong union can be ensured with tape. Lastly, vigorous growth results from using established trees. 

Mango variety scion inserted and wrapped. Watch for tomorrow’s video to see this done live with more explanation.

We are pleased to be in connection to an ever evolving landscape and all the skills associated with managing and increasing productivity of the landscape. Hopeful for a lifelong horticulture journey and increasing abundance.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s How To Vid! 

Hairy babe of the garden// old fashioned fav :: Rose Campion


Hairy babe of the garden// old fashioned fav :: Rose Campion ((Silene coronaria))

…aka lamp flower as those woolly leaves were used as lamp wicks.

Often this flower doesn’t photograph well because the colors are so bright!!

These seeds were gifted to us from a wise woman of the land (whom we lived with for a spell) who has tended her own rugged mountainous land in North Carolina for decades. Plant/people connections are so rich as they evoke not only the innate botanical beauty but harken to the relationships we forge via plants throughout time; a particular period (or way) of life and a sweet memory as the person is recalled to mind.

Share Seeds!

She sent us these seeds when we first moved to the land and I sowed them in the gardens. These flowers notoriously self-sow and keep coming back year after year (although they are short lived perennials, they reseed around the original mother plant.) The first year we had them in our garden by the cabin in the woods. Since then we’ve moved them to numerous other beds and they usually put on this beautiful flower in the first year and don’t come back the next.

I think as long as we have a garden, I’d love to keep growing this!

As stated above, it’s one of the reasons I love to share seeds because we carry the stories of how we got them and when we look at these lovely plants we think back to that very cool lady who lives on the mountainside in North Carolina. We think of her fortitude, generosity, commitment, etc.

We have written about her previously here and here.

We don’t use rose campion for any other purpose than eyeing these beautiful babes in the garden, but you can use the leaves as lamp wicks. I’ll have to try that some day!

Putting Up Hay in the Ozarks


When the honeysuckle flowers are in bloom (divine smells in the air!) and the garden really starts to fill out, that’s usually an indicator of the first opportunity to put up hay.

Our friends over at Elixir Farm have 100% organic, grass fed cows that range over their beautiful pasture. It’s a complete cow paradise! They eat of the beautiful grasses all year, but need some supplemental feed come winter.

Each Spring we receive the summons to come help them. Some years the crew is scant and the work feels crazy-hard, but luckily this year a band of communards from nearby East Wind Community came out and helped. Between the 11 of us, it was actually pretty easy (and fun) work.

Stacking the hay in the old (and beautiful barn)

As we have done this 3-4 summers in a row, we kind of know the ropes, so we were in partial leadership positions. Ini is a boss at stacking the hay on the trailer — check out how tall/efficient this load is! It really is a true art, especially because this rig has to make it up and down some bumpy holler roads.

It’s always an incredibly dirty/dusty/itchy job. This year I finally got smart and covered my arms and legs with long sleeves and pants. Wore my bandana for when we put up the hay in the barn (it gets hard to breathe otherwise, with all the particles!). And also had on a large sunhat and sunglasses. My only “weak spot” was wearing open toed shoes, I suppose, but my Chacos are my summer mainstay and are super easy to clean.

After haying for a few hours, it is almost a necessity to jump in the cool river. We strip off our clothes and dive in. The current is strong these days so if you venture out to the middle, you spend all of your energy staying in place. The gorgeous waters of the Ozarks are what drew us here and definitely are a huge boon to staying 🙂

And of course, going to the creek for a dip is always full of surprises. One of our friends caught a baby turtle as it was swimming by.

And then we headed back into the fields to pick up the rest of the hay. As you can see, there’s more for him to cut, but that has to wait for another day as rain was in the forecast! Haying is always tricky business as you’re not only fighting the coordination of workers all arriving at moment’s notice, but also scheduling around the rains.

After the final gathering, it was back to putting hay in the barn. We only brought 2 loads on this day. In previous years (with less people), we’ve put up 7 or more loads. It can be a long and strenuous day!

Luckily Elixir Farm is a place of abundance, beauty and absolutely tasty meals. We feasted on the porch and enjoyed our time together. This was definitely a fun haying experience.

Stacking Functions: Trusses as Concrete Forms


As the house progresses steadily, it’s pretty amazing to realize that every step we’re taking is bringing us one step closer to realizing our dreams. It’s all of the little details which add up to become a house.

Yesterday and today we have been working steadily on building the parallel chord trusses, which will double as concrete forms.

Here is an example of the parallel chord truss we are building. This example is actually using pallet wood, but we are using dimensional pine lumber from our nearby sawmill. Image from Mother Earth News.

We’re at the beginning of getting our systems down and work site set up. We’ve chosen a spot with great morning-midday shade, but the afternoon can be brutal. Most days we are getting high humidity and 80-85 degree sunny weather. This means the sweat is dripping and the sawdust is sticking to our legs!

I’ve set up making the cuts for the diagonal pieces (“webs” in the diagram above) and 6 foot lengths and Ini is putting them together. Each truss takes 12 diagonal lengths and so I’ve taken to organizing my cuts into buckets for easy delivery.

Meanwhile, Ini has been hammering the trusses together. (Note my choked up hammer grip due to wrist fatigue, he says…)

This method of truss building is simple, albeit labor intensive and also uses small dimensional lumber (rough cut 1x4s in this case). As noted in the above diagram, this method can make great use of pallet wood, a ubiquitous offshoot of our consumptive culture. Furthermore, the style of truss will allow us to easily span 16 feet and maintain a cathedral ceiling while providing a 12″ deep cavity which will be filled with blown in cellulose for an R value of 36. Add some dead air space and radiant barrier and we should be achieving closer to R 50.

The simple geometry involved in truss building relies on the inherent strength of triangles. By using this simple principle, we can create a unit that is much stronger than the sum of its parts and efficiently utilize wood.

As always we are seeking to maximize outputs and minimize input. This is at the core of Permaculture. In this case we are stacking functions of using these trusses as concrete forms when we pour our stem wall. We’ll add plywood and then oil it so the concrete doesn’t stick. Once the concrete is set, we will remove formwork and install as roof assembly. It might seem weird that we’re building a roof before even starting on the wall, but there is a method to our madness…

Making Home


It has been quite a journey since we’ve moved onto the 18 acres we have been tending for the past three and half years. Some of the biggest changes are taking place as we’re endeavoring to build ourselves a home. It seems like every lesson, hardship and observation has led us to this point and we’re ready to dive in.

The phrase “building a house” does not begin to describe the extremely large undertaking involved in such a process. A house is not the sum of parts (lumber, stone, insulation etc..), but rather an extension of the humans that inhabit it. Many natural building enthusiasts refer to the house as a thirds skin (the second being our clothing). Making home does entail building a house, but extends beyond the physical details and includes how the building / inhabitant integrate into the landscape.

In line with our ethics, we have yet to take a drastic approach to changing the landscape. Small and slow has been our way.

For years we both envisioned building our own natural own, both independently and then in partnership. The dreaming, hands-on time, designing, scheming, considering, researching, sourcing, planning and sketching phases have brought us to a point where we are calling in BIG changes. With these changes also come tough decisions. In preparation for this we have walked throughout our land countless times at different seasons, observed the patterns of the sun and moon and taken notes on plant communities and soil conditions. Now that we’ve settled on a location, we are ready to break ground.

Inviting large equipment onto our land has been a difficult decision to make. We dig all the excavation for all prior buildings by hand, and value this low impact method. It is accessible, sustainable and free. In considering the scale and scope of this build and the importance of a solid foundation systems and proper drainage we called around and found the best heavy equipment operator in the area.

Neither of us have endeavored such an undertaking and it is a little nerve racking to see it beginning.

We both love to natural building; the materials, the process and of course the final result. Some of the most comfortable human spaces we’ve inhabited have been build in alignment with the Earth from site selection, materials used to the construction process. But what does it look like for us to be guiding a major building process?

This past week we’ve seen what 20 hours of heavy equipment can get done. We said goodbye to a beautiful red oak (while it was in decline, it’s still hard to kill such a large tree). We’re been sick to our stomachs at the destruction we’ve seen as the house site is being prepared. Overwhelmed, stressed, nervous… Yes and also elated and joyful. We are making the biggest changes to the landscape yet, and while we feel it’s warranted to ensure our house stands strong as long as possible (hopefully well over 100 years) it’s still a lot to be responsible for.

Items we put into the foundation: old boots to make the place feel like home immediately and quartz crystals wren dug in arkansas for a crystal grid to amplify intentions.

This is just the first step, and as the equipments operator mentioned as we rolled off site late last Friday evening, “Now the hard work begins”. In some ways I agree as from now on it will be almost exclusively hand labor, but there’s also a joy and connection to the place and materials that heavy equipment does not afford.