That's a farm pond in the city where I work. Its down to less than 25% of its usual capacity due to the drought. Unless there's significant rain soon, it will be dry in a couple more weeks. The big lake levels are also down in the area and many of the smaller farm ponds have dried up completely already.
Did you notice the cow at about 3 o'clock in the picture?
No, its not the worlds shortest cow.
She came down to the pond to drink and discovered that drying pond silt can be a deadly trap. The ground in this part of Texas is heavy black clay. As silt is deposited by runoff over the years it collects at the bottom of ponds like this. There isn't any foot traffic from animals to compact it and it can be several feet deep. As the surface bakes in the sun and dries, it gives the illusion of a firm (although cracked) surface.
Underneath, though, it can be deep, deep mud. I've stepped off into stuff like this while seining farm ponds and it can pull the boots right off your feet.
This cow sunk all the way down to her belly in the mud and couldn't get out. Judging from the amount of dung she deposited I'd guess she was there at least 12-24 hours before I found her while in the area on a different call. I know the owner of the cows on this property, having had to chase these cattle up and down the highway a couple of years ago when they got out. We were able to contact him and make him aware of the stuck cow.
Getting her out was pretty simple. They looped a hauling strap and chain around her neck and pulled her free with a truck. Once free of the mud, she just lay on her side. Her attempts to escape had exhausted her and being in the mud so long will cause their legs to go numb and wobbly.
We rocked her a bit and got her upright.
After a couple of failed attempts to get up, she was able to make it to her feet and rejoin her buddies in the herd.
I had pretty awesome hatcam video of the whole process.... but the camera was tilted down too far on its clip and I ended up with an entire video of the ground several feet short of where all the action was.
DOH! That's what happens when you try to shoot video without any kind of viewfinder.