08/02/2004 at 01:00 AM EDT
Actress Janine Turner calls her 300-acre Texas ranch Mockingbird Hill. Why? Because the mockingbird is Texas's state bird, and Turner is a Texan down to her Lone Star doormat and the longhorn cattle she breeds. Anything else? "The mockingbird is always changing its tune," says Turner. "I like that."
Ditto Turner. From 1990 to 1995, the 41-year-old Fort Worth-reared actress was one of the reigning women of prime time, playing tomboyish pilot Maggie O'Connell in CBS's quirky Alaska-set cult classic Northern Exposure (the first season was released on DVD in May). Now, two years after leaving the Lifetime drama Strong Medicine, she has scaled back her career to raise daughter Juliette, 6, amid corrals and hay fields outside Dallas. "I'm making life decisions for Juliette," says the never-married Turner, who refuses to reveal the identity of the girl's father. (She says only that it was a long-term relationship that didn't work out: "I loved her father.") Having a daughter was the best decision of all, says Turner's longtime friend Jocelyn White. "Juliette brought a joy and balance to her life she didn't have before."
Savoring life on the ranch, Turner is bullish on those longhorns. She bought her first one in 1994 shortly after purchasing the property (which now includes a three-bedroom home) and today owns 30. She sells them for up to $6,000 apiece, but only to buyers who promise not to slaughter them. "They're independent and sturdy," says Turner, who takes satisfaction in having moved away from the Hollywood herd. A devout Christian and staunch Republican, she performs in church Christmas plays, doesn't keep alcohol in the house and avoids the dating scene, even though she was once engaged to Alec Baldwin and dated Mikhail Baryshnikov and Sylvester Stallone. "Fame is whimsical," she says. "But my daughter is real. My gift from God."