She reaches down and pulls the first egg from the carton. Her hands show the signs of a life of farm work, tanned and rough from use and the sun. But she handles the eggs so gently, delicately picking each one out of its small holder and placing it on top of the small Candler. Instantly, the light shines up through the egg, exposing a magnificent array of color. Bright reds and yellows; the color of the most beautiful sunset. The black eyes of the embryo dance inside the egg like little acrobats. Bouncing up and down, left and right; showing off for the first time. They seem to say, “Look at me.”
“This one looks perfect,” her voice is more of a proud parent then science educator.
The student’s faces light up as well. Surprised by what is lurking inside these plain white shells. Looks of awe and wonder flash though their eyes. Their usually chatty mouths open wide and they breathe in the sight before them. As she carefully points out the embryos features, they look on silently, soaking in the words and the sights.
Just as carefully and quickly she removes the egg and switches it for another and another. Six perfect eggs all developing before our eyes. The next groups of students comes back and are equally amazed until one egg is placed and we all see the telltale sign, the blood ring. Our hearts sink, we all know what this means…a quitter.
“This one is a quitter,” she says, “it started to develop but something went wrong. We will cull this one, this is nature’s way.” She says no more but they understand. “We will take it out before it starts to stink, or ruins the others.”
The rest of the eggs continue to shine, no more quitters but a couple that never got started. These eggs glow a brilliant yellow. There are no signs of the bold reds and oranges of the developing embryos. The unfertilized eggs look like the moon on a starless night. These two get culled as well.
Back to the incubator they go, 18 have now become 15. The tiny little lives inside are so delicate and fragile. We fuss over temperature and humidity and wonder how they ever survive in the wild. I guess this is just nature’s way…