North Dakota: The Big Dry

In North Dakota one farmer stares down disaster in the worst drought in 50 years

Leon Malard sat at his small kitchen table, covered with a blue plastic cloth, and with strong, thick fingers stroked the stubble on his chin. His black hair was cropped to its roots, his glasses coated at the edges with the grit from a morning of tilling in his stunted cornfield, which hugs a bluff above the Missouri River between Bismarck and Cannon Ball, N. Dak.

The 93 degrees F wind scoured the boards of his tiny home, gusting and swirling up to 30 m.p.h., drying, loosening, lofting, trying again to blow him away. The big prairie sun, without a wisp...

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