ETCETERA - College Place man finds egg-within-an-egg isn't a dime a dozen

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CP man finds his egg-within-an-egg isn't a dime a dozen

Here's something to Tweet about: I think an anonymous chicken's feat -- that of producing a whole egg inside another egg -- totally eclipses the column item about a potato that resembled Richard Nixon's head. And that's no yolk.

Vern Colvin of College Place made an eggzacting discovery when he peeled one of his hard-boiled medium-sized brown chicken eggs the other day. Some of the shell stuck to the white, which when peeled away then exposed the egg yolk and he "saw something dark brown inside that," Vern said. "Here is a much-smaller egg inside the big egg. It's extremely unusual."

Wanting more information, Vern got cracking and took his marvel along to the Washington State University Extension Office in Walla Walla where the folks photographed it and wanted to take it off Vern's hands. In fact, the office had an article stating it is a rarity for this to happen.

Lay his egg aside? No dice, he said to extension personnel, joking that he expected to hear from Ripley's Believe It or Not. So far, Ripley's hasn't responded, he's been quick to add.

He consulted with the owners of a chicken ranch in Milton-Freewater and despite having a population of 1,000 chickens, they admitted to having no experience with such a phenomenon.

He's been sharing the curio with biology classes at local elementary and high schools and may take his egg over to Whitman College and Walla Walla University for additional scrutiny. I suppose none of the students will be able to top his show and tell.

Vern said his 90-year-old mother has been wanting brown chicken eggs because that's what her daddy ate.

Shopping at the Canned Food Outlet the other day, Vern bought a carton of Oakdell Egg Farms jumbo eggs identified on the outside of the carton as white. However the eggs inside were decidedly brown, he said. Oakdell eggs are distributed from Salt Lake City, Lewiston and Pasco, Vern said.

"We're all used to finding double or triple yolks in eggs. But there seem to be more unusual things going on with eggs from brown hens. Maybe red hens have something different going on in their heads," Vern cracked, tongue in cheek.

Scrambling to learn more, my Internet search yielded illustrated news stories reporting "chicken egg inside another egg," including one on Nov. 1, 2008, in Japan and another on Sept. 1, 2009, wherein a British farmer opened a free-range boiled egg and discovered a much smaller egg in its own shell.

Poultryhelp.com from Rocking T Ranch & Poultry Farm in Kempner, Texas, said it's not normal for double yolks to appear in eggs and has to do with a younger egg-laying chicken's reproductive system figuring out how to do it correctly.

Eggs that don't have a yolk are considered to be a pullet's first try before her laying mechanism is fully in gear.

Don't tell your kids that the name for this is a "fart." I'm just reporting this. I didn't make it up.

The site notes that the record number of yolks found in one egg is nine. One of the farm's eggs came out sans its shell. In that case, a membrane held the contents, and it felt like a water balloon.

The sort of egg Vern and I are fascinated by is discussed on the site too: "An egg-within-an-egg, or a double-shelled egg appears when an egg that is nearly ready to be laid reverses direction and gets a new layer of albumen covered by a second shell. Sometimes the reversed egg joins up with the next egg and the two are encased together within a new shell. Double shelled eggs are so rare that no one knows exactly why or how they happen."

Unless you've hatched a theory of your own, it appears to remain a mystery. Anyway, Vern's discovery was an eggcellent one.

•••

Perhaps Christina van Dyke will figure out what's up with the egg-within-an egg question when she continues her animal science studies.

The daughter of Walla Wallans Pete and Laura van Dyke was just accepted into Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine Program and will start the four-year program in August 2011.

Christina graduated in 2007 from Walla Walla High School and is a senior in WSU's animal science program where she's completing her bachelor's degree in December, after she begins vet school.

She has gained most of her pre-vet experience while working at Animal Clinic East of Walla Walla, said her dad, who is also a veterinarian.

"I worked as a large animal veterinarian (equine vet) in the Snohomish (Wash.) area in the '80s and '90s until I severely injured my back. Instead of venturing into the world of small animals I became a college professor and now work at Walla Walla Community College," Pete said.

Christina's focus will be in small animals, but she is interested in other species and remains generally open at this point. When she completes vet school, she will receive a doctor of veterinary medicine, surgery and dentistry degree.

•••

Walla Wallans Gabe and Margaret Joseph are delighted for grandson Grant Joseph Nielsen of Spokane, who not only scored finalist standing in the 2011 National Merit Scholarship Program but also earned a trumpet scholarship to Washington State University.

Grant is one of 15,000 students representing less than 1 percent of U.S. high school graduating seniors to achieve the honor, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. The NMSC process started 18-plus months ago when Grant took the PSAT/NMSQT exam at Joel E. Ferris High School in Spokane.

"His selection index score placed him in the 99th percentile for college-bound juniors in 2009. We are all very proud of Grant," said his mom, Walla Walla native Susan Joseph Nielsen, a 1980 alumna of Walla Walla High School.

He holds a 3.526 GPA while taking many Advanced Placement courses at Ferris High School.

WSU accepted Grant into its Honors College for fall semester 2011, where he plans to study pre-veterinary medicine.

"Grant has always been a small animal lover and has been interested in veterinary medicine since he was in grade school," Susan said via e-mail. "He has held firm to that interest and is very excited to finally be starting on the official journey toward that profession."

He plays lead trumpet in the Ferris High School Jazz Orchestra and Wind Ensemble groups. Ferris Jazz Orchestra most recently won its category in the AAAA Division at the 2011 Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival on Feb. 26 at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Susan said. Grant plans to continue playing trumpet at WSU.

Grant is Susan and Scott Nielsen's youngest son. Eldest son Peter is a junior business and hospitality management major at WSU.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or 526-8313.

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