The Chicken, the Fox, and the Grain Puzzle

A farmer is standing on one bank of a river, with a fox, a chicken, and a bag of grain. He needs to get to the other side of the river, taking the fox, the chicken, and the grain with him.

However, the boat used to cross the river is only large enough to carry the farmer and one of the things he needs to take with him, so he will need to make several trips in order to get everything across.

In addition, he cannot leave the fox unattended with the chicken, or else the fox will eat the chicken;

and he cannot leave the chicken unattended with the grain, or else the chicken will eat the grain. The fox is not particularly partial to grain, and may be left alone with it.

How can he get everything across the river without anything being eaten?

You may have heard this one before. It is an interesting puzzle. Do you know the answer ?

It is interesting to note the thought process that goes on.

I believe the phrasing is part of the key to the difficulty people have with this riddle. Notice it is phrased in the form of what the farmer “can not do” If you have not solved this one yet, try re-phrasing the question in the form of what the farmer CAN do, i.e. he can leave the fox with the grain…… See if that helps.

We often focus on our obstacles, or what we think we can not do. Try planning, brainstorming, and thinking in terms of things you can do. Your results just might amaze you!

So, back to our farmer. If you have not figured it out yet,

Traditional Answer to Chicken and Fox Dilemma

The man takes the chicken across first, leaving the fox and grain together on the other side.

He returns and gets the fox, but when he deposits the fox on the other side, he takes the chicken BACK across, so that the fox and chicken aren’t left alone together.

He drops the chicken off back on the other side, picks up the grain, and takes it across to deposit with the fox.

Finally, he returns to retrieve the chicken and takes it to the other side.

At no time were the fox and chicken left alone together, nor were the chicken and grain.
At no time was more than one of them in the boat with the man simultaneously.

The other issue is often people do not consider the idea of taking one of the items back on the return trip! Notice this again is not framed in the question, but must be thought of on your own….

Happy brainstorming!

If you would like to explore creating some of these results for yourself, feel free to use my online schedule to set a time for us to talk.


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