Being an accounting of the recent and continuing pandemic and its various circumstances, from the perspective of an inhabitant of the regions lately called the Lost Quarter. Dates unknown.
Day Seven Hundred Thirty Seven
They walk along the muddy laneway, avoiding the deepest puddles they can just make out in the meagre light of the pre-dawn. Calves are bawling somewhere off in the gloom. Their mothers respond in low tones, chewing their cud. There is a touch of snow atop the grass that edges the path and beyond in the surrounding fields, a glimmering veneer that arrived sometime in the night and will be gone as soon as the sun rises fully.
They stop at the shed first, slipping inside as quietly as they can, flicking on a light in the corner. The two cows stir slightly at their entrance, neither bothering to rise. One has a calf curled up beside her, born the night before, its hair dry but still with a sheen from the placenta that once surrounded it. The other is alone yet, chewing patiently. Taking her time, one of them says.
They leave the shed and walk through the nearby corrals, bouncing flashlights off the cows who look on indifferently familiar with this routine. There are no calves to be found in the straw bedding or anywhere else in the pens, unusual for this time of year. They notice one cow has a full udder and is standing with her tail held away from her body. Without a comment one of them heads to close off the laneway, while the other opens the gate and chases the cow from the pen. She ambles unconcerned along the laneway and they herd her into the shed beside the other two cows.
They leave her there in its warmth, opening up the laneway again and returning home for another hour of sleep before dawn comes and it is time to work.