Monday, June 2, 2008


Sunday morning began early with a loud WHOOOOOSH! I was sound asleep in bed, eyes glued shut, dry mouth hanging open, my brain hardly firing on enough cylinders to process an awful racket coming from outside.

Despite the noise, I drifted at the edge of sleep, lost to the delicious kind of slumber one only gets on quiet weekend mornings. Then it came again, that hateful noise, this time louder and more insistent: WHOOOOOOSH!!

Little human footsteps went pitter-pattern down the hallway, past our bedroom door. I heard the front door open and slam shut. Children's voices were excitedly discussing the source of the WHOOOOOSH, even inviting the WHOOOOOSH to come closer.

I shot upright in bed, finally placing the whoooshing sound. It was a hot air balloon, and it sounded close!

Living in the heart of Northern California's beautiful wine country makes for many interesting experiences. Every spring and summer, dozens of hot air balloons drift over our farm during the still early morning hours, taking excited sightseers on undoubtedly spectacular adventures over the vineyards. The horses are used to seeing the colorful orbs dangling high in the sky. Occasionally, a balloon will even land at a neighboring farm (with permission, of course). But low-flying hot air balloons are a source of concern for horse owners at times because they can incite fence-crashing panic among equines.


Sure enough, just outside our bedroom window, in the vineyard next to the horse pasture, a hot air balloon hung nervously, too still, just 10 feet above the vines. The pilot was busily sending flames up into his balloon, trying to make it rise, hence the sleep-shattering whooshing sound.

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I ran outside, half dressed, camera in hand. The horses stood, frozen, watching the balloon:

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In the end, the balloon's WHOOOOOSHING paid off, and it rose rapidly into the sky and drifted southeast, no doubt toward a waiting "chase" vehicle and the end of an exciting ride for its occupants. The horses went back to their business, the adventure over, and Argus and I both headed back for the last bit of Sunday morning sleep.

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barbara said...

I love hearing that whoooooooosh but I sure see how the horses would not. Perhaps Argus's studious nature helped calm the group until the balloon left. Great pictures - Argus back side sure is a triangle though...I hope he can fill out over time. Thank you for the photos.

PaintedPromise said...

i hear that! over our place, the jets from the local AFB fly their training flights and nobody even notices any more... but i'll bet a balloon would send our critters into a tailspin!!

Susan said...

Oh my!! I can see where horses would not be a fan of hot air balloons. Isn't it funny how we, as horse owners, worry about the craziest things that no one else would give a second thought to? A plastic grocery bag can become a thing of panic, fisherman casting their lines may cause a bolt, the lists go on and on. We horse owners sure are a spooky bunch!!!

Anonymous said...

I too had a hot air balloon, almost land in our yard! I looked out our windows to see my gelding running frantically, tail up, snorting! Went out the front door, looked up and about 50 ft from where I stood, was the balloon, they were going to land in the horse paddock, until they realized it wasn't such a good idea! My hubby was washing his hair in the kitchen sink, pantless, when I yelled, OMG, he came running out, full of lather! The balloon occupants, proceded to take pictures of us! We just woke up! LOL Yes, they sure do put out alot of whooooosh!
Patti C. Connecticut

cdncowgirl said...

You must be very grateful that the horses didn't panic.
The only experience I've had that comes close was having the misfortunate timing to be riding across the road from a train when it began to brake. (our horses are used to trains but this was another sound altogether!)
Oh, and I followed your advice and had my mare tested for Cushing's and she doesn't have it (yay!!) but she does have a high parasite load so we are treating that accordingly. Thanks for again for your advice!

bigredhorse said...

I LOVE hearing about Argus and his barn friends. You should publish a childrens book about him and his adventures! Look forward every day to a new update!

spotteddrafter said...

Holy moly!!! I agree with barbara, I bet Argus' tendancy to stare at things helped keep the herd calm. What an exciting event, though!

Anonymous said...

Ooh, look at us getting spoiled with all of these updates!