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The Blind Cowboy

One of my favorite classic posers is the saga of the blind cowboy who manages to keep track of his cows with little information and some arithmetic.

A blind cowboy drove twelve head o’ cattle into town. (Don't ask.) At the corral a ranch hand herded them into four vacant pens. The cowboy asked, “Are you sure you got all twelve?” “Don’t worry, there’s twelve,” replied the hand, ungrammatically. “How many are in each pen?” the cowboy asked. Gettin’ a mite irritated, the hand counted heads in the four pens and snidely told the cowboy the product of those four numbers. Scratchin’ his head, the cowboy asked “Is there a single cow in any pen?” “NO” said the hand, shortly. After that the cowboy knew exactly how many were in each of the pens. Do you know? Can you figur‘ it?










Photo: Bengt Oberger, wikimedia

Well, the cowboy wasn't as astute on his next drive into town. Try this tale of whoa!!


The Return of the Blind Cowboy

On the next cattle drive, the cowboy had all his cows put into two corrals. He asked the ranch hand to count the cows in each pen and tell him the product of those two numbers. The cowboy had to wait there with his cows for over a week until the train arrived to take them to market. The hand would count, multiply, and report each morning.

Snidely Whiplash overheard the initial conversation. He decided he could defeat this doubtful security system. He stole some cows that night and rearranged the rest in the two pens so that the product remained the same. As a matter of fact, Snidely stole cows seven nights in a row and, by moving cows, was able to keep the product exactly the same. Boo! Hiss!

Luckily, the town sheriff got wise to the scheme and told the cowboy he had only 22 cows left in total. How many cows did the blind cowboy bring to town? Snidely Whiplash, by the way, is now coolin’ his heels in the hoosegow.


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