Dry Season: The Texas Drought of 2011 as presented by: The Statesman

The meanest drought in modern Texas history looks different out here, away from the cities. There are no emerald swaths of St. Augustine lawns, no blooming shrubs, no misters cooling bar patrons as the sun goes down on another cloudless, 105-degree day. The disconnect between what rural Texans are experiencing and sheltered urbanites are seeing has never seemed greater. But here, the brutality of the drought is measured not in annoying water restrictions or water pipes bursting in the dessicated ground — all now commonplace in Texas cities and towns — but threatened livelihoods, and the waning of life itself. Livestock and agricultural losses are already estimated at $5.2 billion, and expected to rise. Stock tanks have dried up, hungry cattle are being rushed to market, crops plowed under. Wildfires have torched more than 3.4 million acres; deer are abandoning their young; oak trees that have weathered many a hot summer are fading. The state’s aquifers, which supply 60 percent of its water supply, are dropping, squeezed by development pressure and lack of rainfall. A cow is stuck in the mud at the bottom of an empty stock tank in Garfield on Wednesday July 27, 2011. The historic drought of 2011 dried up stock tanks all over Texas. David Tucker, a ranch hand at Rocking H Ranch in Garfield, gives water to an exhausted cow he rescued that was mired in the mud at the bottom of a stock tank on Wednesday, July 27, 2011. The eight-year-old cow survived the ordeal, but two weeks later she got stuck again and died. Terry Hash pauses after searching in the cracked soil for cotton seeds in his 175-acre cotton field in Garfield on Thursday, August 18, 2011. Hash planted 800 acres of cotton, corn, wheat and sorghum, and almost all of it was destroyed by the drought. Despite having insurance, Hash said he worries about how he is going to pay his farm loans and borrow more money for next season's crops. 'Lots of sleepless nights,' Hash said. 'You lay in bed wondering what the hell you're going to do.'


view Dry Season: The Texas Drought of 2011 as presented by: The Statesman

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