Published: August 11th 2012August 11th 2012
We’re currently staying in an orphanage in rural Mozambique, on the outskirts of a fairly large city. Life here is rural – we have cows and goats and chickens and sheep, and grow a range of fruits and vegetables.
Now, recently our chickens have suffered an horrific and debilitating plague, causing almost all of them to die, all within the space of about a week. You could call it an epidemic. You could say the population has been decimated. You could say this, and whilst technically true, you'd have to say it 33 times to paint the full picture...
I've been doing some maths. To decimate means to 'reduce by one tenth'. We started off with about 100 chickens, and now we have 3. To say that our chicken population was decimated would mean that we had 90 left. So to say it again would mean we had 90 -10% = 81 chickens left... Here's the chart: See decimation chart 1
That's quite a lot of decimations.
Now then, something is either dead or alive, Bon Jovi taught us about this subject. So to say that we have 65.61 chickens suggests that one chicken is 61%
alive. Hmm... Lets call all chickens that are more than half dead 'dead', and all chickens that are half alive or better 'still alive'. Now lets look at the data: See decimation chart 2
Much better! Notice that this time there are important deviations from the first set of data at the 11th and 19th decimation, and that when we get down to 5 chickens left the chickens are immune to decimation! 5 -10% = 5 still!
Now then, there is just room for a further model. The classic book and film, The Princess Bride, makes the point that if you're mostly dead you're still partly alive. Well, so what if all chickens that are partly dead are still alive and counted as such? Lets look at the data now: See decimation chart 3
Notice that it strongly deviates quite quickly from the other data sets, and now at a healthy nine chickens the flock is immune to decimation - hooray!
As it is, I think we've stabilised at three - 2 female and one male, so hopefully the flock will replenish itself soon and then we'll get to do some more