Yesterday evening a hot air balloon landed in our bottom field. The balloon was owned and piloted by Mark Frazier out of Middletown. He was taking a couple for a ride on their 41st anniversary who were from New Lebanon. Mark said he was having a hard time finding a place to land in the sea of corn and soybean fields and came over some trees and saw our fallow field and put the balloon down.
I was in the house when they landed and would have missed it if the dogs had not gone nuts barking at the balloon. I walked outside to see what they were barking about and saw this:
So I walk down the hill to what's up and meet the ballooners who ask if I am the property owner (yes) and if I have a problem with their landing on the property (no). He than asks if there is a way to get a truck with a trailer down into the valley and I say it is possible but not easy. Just about than the chase crew and the anniversary couples kids and grand kids all arrive and are walking down the hill to meet the ballooners.
Eugene who was up on the roof trying to get some priming done was now on the ground walking the hill with the pilot and I was meeting the chase vehicle driver and told him to go a talk to Eugene about getting a truck down to the balloon. Finally it was decided that the balloon needed to go up the hill to the top field and so a leash of sorts was attached to the balloon and the envelope (what we would consider the balloon itself) was filled with enough hot air to lift it about 3 feet off the ground and was lead up the hill with 5 people (including Eugene) holding the gondola and one person pulling on the leash attached to the envelope.
Once the got the balloon up the hill they put it between the line of cedar trees that are on the ridge and the market garden. Once the gondola was on the ground again it was time to deflate the envelope on stuff it in its' bag. the initial step was to shut off the heat and with the leash still attached guide the envelope gently to the ground. It was a still evening but the envelope initially did a bee line towards the only things in its' vicinity that could badly damage it. Namely, some pieces of rebar we have holding some raised beds together that stick up about 18" out of the ground.
But at the last second Aaron, the guy on the leash, was able to persuade the envelope to come a bit south and land safely on the ground. Once that was done, it was time to get all the air out of the envelope and all the grasshopper off the envelope (this seemed to be highly attractive to crickets, katydids and grasshoppers as there were hundreds all over the envelope). This was a group effort (okay, most things with a hot air balloon seem to be a group effort). We got in a line and started squeezing the air out of the balloon so it would be able to be stuffed in the big bag that held the deflated envelope.
When that was done we all got in line again and lifted the balloon onto our shoulders and started putting it in the big canvas bag. many hands made light work of that and within about 2 minutes the thing was packed away and ready to load into the trailer on the chase vehicle. Another couple of minutes and the gondola was put away. the people who hired the balloon took lots of pictures of the crew and landowners after the loading and than they went on their way back home. The balloon people stuck around to check out the farm store and they bought a lot of stuff which was good as they were the only customers we had all day and about the most interesting customers we have had to date