EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

April 13, 2014

Anderson column: A happy, healthy life for friend and fowl

(Continued)

I got caught up in the “healthy lives” issue some 20 years ago, when I had an emergency hysterectomy. As I left the hospital, I was given a prescription for Premarin, a hormone-replacement drug used to ameliorate the symptoms of sudden menopause, as well as protect women from bone loss.

I balked at this, arguing that taking the drug was unnatural. The young doctor agreed that “yes, the natural thing is to die now that nature no longer has a use for you.” Sarcasm works with me, so I took the drug for 10 years, but someone eventually told me what it is: Premarin, from pregnant mares.

I went online and learned that the mares live long (often 20 years or more) but brutal lives, repeatedly impregnated and, for most of their pregnancy, confined in stalls that prohibit turning around or comfortably lying down, as their urine is harvested. This didn’t seem possible, so I went to the drug company website, then Snopes.com, looking for rebuttal. I didn’t find it.

Still, I wanted strong bones, so I continued to take the pills, until I needed emergency lung surgery for a rare carcinoid tumor and was told I could die if it had spread. As I prepared to possibly meet my Maker, I thought I’d have trouble explaining my participation in the abuse of those mares. I decided that if I lived, I’d stop taking Premarin. And I did. My lungs and bones are fine now, and so is my conscience.

Other women might have to make other choices, but I’m told that there is now a synthetic hormone replacement that doesn’t require horses in restraints. So on to the poultry.

We have wild turkeys in our yard. They like it here not only because the squirrels toss them seeds from the birdfeeders but also because we have a mowed meadow yard full of bugs and roots instead of pesticides. It’s a joy to watch them live the life of a turkey, strutting and preening, interacting with each other, roosting in the trees. When it thunders, the males herd the females and youn’uns into the bushes, then line up to face the thunder and gobble in unison as they prepare for battle with Zeus. I can’t imagine stuffing them into a cage until it is time to stuff them with bread. Of course, when they get aggressive with me in the spring, they risk immediate beheading with the wood-pile axe, but that’s another issue.

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