Linda Galayda hauled water and flagged down truck drivers to ask about their hay. She sold calves and young cows and made her son leave their East Texas family ranch for a job in San Antonio.

About 200 miles southeast of her, Bob and Darlene Stryk heeded lessons from a dry spell 16 years ago and kept their 130-year-old farm afloat by selling higher-priced, specialty products like raw milk and cheddar cheese before the drought forced them to make their most difficult decision yet.

The drought that parched the vast Texas landscape, sucking ponds, lakes and reservoirs dry and severely damaging soil and grasslands. It also traumatized farmers and ranchers, who — like their ancestors who survived the Dust Bowl and the dry spell of the 1950s — will tell tales about the drought for generations.

The drought of 2011 cost $7.6 billion in crop losses, the most ever recorded, and forced ranchers to slaughter millions of animals, cutting Texas' cattle herd to its smallest size since 1952.

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