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Sounds of the Prairie: Cows and gas flares

It’s getting into autumn in New England, and I’ve been spending a lot of time lately revisiting my walk last May through the Bakken oil field in the prairie of North Dakota. I kept a lot of notes, but also took photos and audio of things encountered along the way. I’ve been writing these past days about a Saturday morning spent with several local families who had gathered to brand more than 300 calves. Listen in as the cowboys separated cows from calves early that morning.


The oil field has settled over this land of ranching and farming, bringing new sounds. There is relatively little pipeline infrastructure in McKenzie County, so natural gas that comes up with oil from the wells is flared off. Hundreds such flares light the night sky and burn in the bright of day.


I also had a chance this summer to sit down and talk about the North Dakota walk with Virginia Prescott, host of NHPR’s Word of Mouth program. You can listen to that conversation over at Word of Mouth.

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