Turkey days

November 24th, 2006

Most people don’t think of turkeys as pets. Arlene Hart didn’t either, but the day I visisted her in 1992, it was hard to ignore the turkey roosting on the front window sill of Arlene’s home flush against the foothills of the Davis Mountains in far West Texas. The turkey had appeared one day, Hart explained, and staked her claim. Of course, Arlene was no stranger to the wildlife of West Texas.

Her husband, Berry, (pictured) once roped an 18-point buck. The local taxidermist gave him a free mount for bringing in the biggest rack of the year. “He had a scar where a deer he’d roped threw its head and punctured his arm clear through with a horn while he was trying to take the rope off,” Arlene said.

Berry had gotten a horse named Berlin as part of his severance package when he left his job as strawboss at the X Ranch. Berlin became one of the most famous cutting horses of the 1930s and ’40s.

“Everybody raved about that horse everywhere they saw him,” Arlene recalled. “He was just too powerful for me to ride. If he got after a cow and turned back, I was liable to go off.

“One time Berry was riding Berlin and we jumped a bobcat. He made me get off my horse and get on Berlin because he didn’t want to take the chance of damaging his cutting horse when he roped the bobcat. Things like that were a challenge to him.”

While he was highly regarded as a cattleman, Hart also liked the challenge of buying a horse, making something of it, and then selling it for a profit. So it was probably inevitable that he would sell Berlin to Fern Sawyer, who went on to be one of the founding members of the National Cutting Horse Association.

“Berry was always ready to trade one off. I always said that he’d trade the kids and me for a good horse,” Arlene said. “He had no idea Fern would buy him when he said $1,000. That was a fortune then. But he’d said what he would take for Berlin  and he didn’t back down. It was the only time I ever saw him cry over selling a horse.

“When Berry loaded him into her trailer, Berlin would have a fit when he stepped away. So he’d step up on the trailer and Berlin would calm down. She finally left with him having a fit, and it just tore Berry up.”







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