LONDON, Ontario — On the night before his weekly trip into the slaughterhouse, Fraser Taylor stepped into the back of the truck to make sure everything was in place. The hold still smelled faintly of cow — a subtle whiff of something grassy — but the equipment inside seemed better suited to a day of spelunking through the sewers. There were hard hats and hoses and straps. There were huge conical tanks, and a valve-laden contraption that might come in handy for siphoning off the contents of pipes. The truck itself was white. It bore no sign of the company it belonged to or the strange journey it was about to take.
Taylor looked tired. It was almost 5 p.m., there was a snowstorm, and the team was already running late. Snow drifted down into the lights of the loading dock as Taylor slid the truck door shut. The roads would be terrible, just tire marks through slush instead of lanes. They had to go tonight, though. Lateness was not an option on Tuesday mornings. If they didn’t get onto the floor before the cattle started coming by, there would no way to load their equipment in, and they would get none of the precious liquid they’d come to collect.