The farmer and his three sons

Here's an interesting story problem that I received in an email!

A farmer died leaving his 17 horses to his three sons. When his sons opened up the will it read: 

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My eldest son should get 1/2 (half) of total horses;

My middle son should be given 1/3rd (one-third) of the total horses;

My youngest son should be given 1/9th (one-ninth) of the total horses.

As it's impossible to divide 17 into half or 17 by 3 or 17 by 9, the three sons started to fight with each other. So, they decided to go to a farmer friend who they considered quite smart, to see if he could work it out for them.    

The farmer friend read the will patiently, after giving due thought, he brought one of his own horses over and added it to the 17. That increased the total to 18 horses.    

Now, he divided the horses according to their fathers will.
  • Half of 18 =   9. So he gave the eldest son 9 horses.
  • 1/3rd of 18 = 6. So he gave the middle son 6 horses.
  • 1/9th of 18 =  2. So he gave the youngest son 2 horses.
Now add up how many horses they have:

    Eldest son  9
    Middle son  6
    Youngest son  2

    TOTAL IS 17

Now this leaves one horse over, so the farmer friend takes his horse back to his farm.

Problem Solved!

The moral:
The attitude of negotiation and problem solving is to find the 18th horse i.e. the common ground. Once a person is able to find the 18th horse the issue is resolved. It is difficult at times. However, to reach a solution, the first step is to believe that there is a solution. If we think that there is no solution, we won't be able to reach any!

Clever, isn't it!


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