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Kim Duncombe takes a family portrait with three of her five kids, from left, Matthew Jr., Raegen and Kassie and also her husband, Matthew Duncombe (pictured on iPhone). Matthew spends two weeks away from the family at a time while running pipelines for the booming oil industry in western North Dakota. Luke Franke / Forum News Service

Work in western North Dakota forces couples to manage long separations

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Big and bold on the chalkboard in the Duncombes’ family kitchen is a countdown.

It’s in the heart of the home, a place where family members will pass by it countless times a day.


It simply reads: “Days until Dad comes home: 16.”

It will be 16 days – more than two full weeks – before the family of seven is reunited again.

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