Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Here there be dragons

When I was on my ambulatory rotation in veterinary school, we'd load up the big white trucks every day and go out to visit the rural folk of Tennessee. We'd treat cows, horses, sheep, goats, pigs, and basically any other livestock floating around out in the countryside.

One particularly gloomy, wet day, we got a call to an extremely rural area, probably a good hour's drive from the vet school.

Upon arrival, we were confronted with a large, nice house on a hill - in the middle of nowhere. Deep in the valley behind it was an oddly shaped, extremely large pasture with a barn situated on the hill overlooking it. Surrounding this pasture were very deep, very dark woods. It was raining, dreary, and overcast. No living person was to be seen. The nearest other soul was probably a good 6-7 miles away. We were in the middle of nowhere. It was very Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

We drove the truck down to the pasture gate and piled out of the truck. No people to be seen, but two horses (presumably the two we were there to vaccinate) were standing in the middle of this sunken field, grazing.

As we waded through the knee high pasture grass, we all heard it simultaneously. A low, deep growl that grew into a booming roar echoed through the woods. We froze. This was no dog bark, no warning growl. This was the roar of some very large predator. We all looked around incredulously but saw nothing.

Nervous, and growing ever increasingly so, as the sky darkened and fat raindrops began to fall, we continued our trek toward the horses. Lightning cracked, as we led the horses to the makeshift shed/barn.

As we were leading the horses, the roaring came again - this time twice. Now we were all scared. We made it to the barn and started setting up. At that point, a white truck rounded the crest of the hill and started toward the barn. A normal looking woman in overalls and boots climbed out of her truck and trotted toward us.

"Wow, great, you already got-" and here, the roaring again, "started."

At this point, we were convinced that some horrible monster was going to come charging out the woods and make a meal of us all. The owner noticed our jumpiness, smiled at us, and said, "don't worry, that's just the lion sanctuary down the road. When the wind is right, you can hear them at feeding time."


puppynerd said...

Oh my gosh!

I wonder how long it took the horses to get comfortable with that sound. Unless they were deaf.

What a neat experience to look back on, but I'm sure much, much less fun at the time!

eb said...

I can see I have much to look forward to in vet school-- among things, being frightened out of my wits!

Hermit Thrush said...

I meant to leave that as Hermit Thrush but I'm logged in to my friend's account accidentally on her computer. Oops.