July 16 08:28 AM

Dandy sight at Dandy K Farms

Ranchers, cattle enjoy surprise a.m. hot air balloon landing

Beef cattle on the 'Dandy K Kruse Farms' are curious about the invaders from the sky bearing down on their pasture on Friday. photo by Andrea Kruse.

July 03, 2019
DRYDEN TWP. — Andrea Kruse is sipping coffee outside on the patio of her Hollow Corners Road home. It's early in the day on Friday, and she's enjoying the long-awaited summertime weather.

It's around 8:30 a.m., and she's still in her robe. That's the beauty of living 'out in the country'—vast space in between homes allows for these little early morning luxuries.

Her revere is interrupted by an unusual sound. It's the distinct whooshing of a hot air balloon. Andrea's heard this sound before. She and husband Ken, and five boys Dillon, Colton, Landon, Trenton and Mason have all attended the Hot Air Balloon Festival held annually during Metamora's Country Days celebration. She's also seen an occasional hot air balloon flying over their third generation cattle ranch.

"I didn't think anything of it until a neighbor texted me," Andrea says.

"There's a hot air balloon in your backyard," the text says.

Andrea turns around and takes a look, and sure enough, there it is.

Andrea calls out to 10-year-old Mason, who's still in bed, prompting him to take a look.

"It was literally hovering over our beef cattle—we have 50 beef cattle in the pasture next to our house and it appeared to be landing," Andrea says.

The cows do not seem bothered in the least, Andrea says. In fact, as the ballon drifts toward the earth, the cows are right on its trail.

"It was the cutest thing ever," Andrea says. "The cows following it, chasing it, and then it lands right in the middle of the pasture. The cows were just sitting there, watching."

It's a peaceful landing, Andrea says, adding that it appeared to be planned.

"I didn't get the impression that they were frantic at all," Andrea says.

Awakened from his slumber, Mason doesn't mind at all. He enjoys the unique sight. Apparently, so do the cattle.

"He was like 'Mom, the cows are chasing it,' because they were literally in a herd chasing it," Andrea says. "They thought it was the coolest thing. They didn't seem afraid."

With all those big animals setting their sights on the balloon and the pair of riders in the basket, Andrea has just one question.

"I wondered what they were thinking," she grins.

About 10 minutes later a truck shows up and picks up the pair of passengers in the balloon.

The experience was like a little gift on a beautiful summer morning, Andrea says. With a job in sales, Andrea's on the road a lot, and on a recent trip to Holly to pick up some supplies, she passes by a place that's giving hot air balloon rides.

"And literally two days later one lands in my yard," she chuckles.

Andrea and Ken have been operating the 'Dandy K' Kruse Farms for the past 19 years. The farm has been in Ken's family for three generations.

Along with the gift of the hot air balloon landing, Andrea says she feels especially gifted with five sons. Each of them pull more than their weight on the farm.

Dillon is studying agriculture at Michigan State University; Colton is a 2019 graduate of Almont High School working in the construction field; Landon, 16, is a junior at AHS, Trenton will start his freshman year there. 10-year-old Mason rounds out the crew.

Both Andrea and Ken work full time jobs along with running the organic beef cattle farm.

In the 19 years they've lived on the farm, they've never had a hot air balloon land in their yard.

"It was a good way to start the day," Andrea says.

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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