Emily (paintedglass) wrote,

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Does the fact that I had to write the following, and that no one seemed interested in, or even to understand it, constitute demonstrative proof that hippies are bad at math?

According to Andrea Meyers: "There are many horses that live in palmer park that will take care of all the ground apples".

How many horses is "many horses"?

According to the Detroit Mounted Police facebook page, there are, at present, 5 horses under the care of the DMP unit. Horses are, to be sure, quite large animals, and |5| is certainly |>| than |1| (or "none"), but... I'm not sure if the word 'many' in this case would accurately describe the number of horses maintained by the DMP. But instead of niggling about the essential vagueness of subjective quantitative adjectives, I mean to address, with what might be called a 'thought experiment', the math problem that the issue represents.

The fear:
The fear is, essentially, that given the average annual yield (in #-or-lbs. of apples) of the relevant variety of apple tree, and the number (800? 500?) of trees planted , the number of horses (5) under the care of the DMP will prove to be insufficient to address the issue of apples that, if left unharvested and allowed to fall to the ground and rest there (really, for any period of time, however short) will threaten to attract undesirable/undesired animal wildlife to the area inhabited by the various concerned residents.

A number of variables are involved in accurately estimating the risk potential of the feared outcome, and a lot depends on information I do not posses, but, here are some things that must be considered by anyone attempting to risk-model or project the realistic potential of the neighborhood residents' feared outcome coming to pass...

Based on the spacing of the seedlings I saw in some photographs, and the fact that the transplants are not older than 5 years and are already expected to begin bearing fruit in the very near future, I assume that the transplanted seedlings are of a fully 'dwarf' rootstock variety (the categories of 'dwarf', 'semi-dwarf', and 'standard' are a gross oversimplification of the diversity of rootstock/scion varieties out there, but for my purposes, they are adequate). I have no direct knowledge of the actual rootstock variety/varieties planted, however, and for all I know they might be standard full-size trees planted in a perversely overcrowded manner. But I digress...

A single fully 'dwarf' apple tree can, under average, 'typical' conditions, very roughly be expected to produce (again, *very* roughly, as any numbers I will use should be taken to be) an average of 3-5 bushels of apples per annum. If a bushel of apples is approximately 45lbs., this means an average annual yield of 135-225lbs. of apples, per individual dwarf apple tree. (For a full 'standard' size tree, the yield is 5-10 bushels, or 225-450lbs. per-tree, per-year.)

If the estimated number (800) of seedlings transplanted is correct, then the expected annual yield for the orchard, in terms of total-lbs.-of-apples would be:

For an orchard composed of 800 'dwarf' variety trees: 108,000 - 180,000 lbs. of apples
For an orchard composed of 800 full-size variety trees: 180,000 - 360,000 lbs. of apples

(Again, I cannot emphasize strongly enough how crude and rough the numbers I'm using for this illustrative 'thought-experiment' are, however, the point I will be making is general enough that for that purpose, the point should be clear even if the numbers I plug-in are relatively off base).

If we assume the apples grown are neither particularly large, nor particularly small, but are average, 'medium size' apples, and realize that 1lb. is roughly equal to the weight of 3 'medium' apples, then the estimated annual yield for the number of productive trees planted in Palmer Park would be, in terms of

For an orchard composed of 800 'dwarf' variety trees: 324,000 - 540,000 individual, medium-sized apples.
For an orchard composed of 800 full-size variety trees: 540,000 - 1,080,000 individual, medium sized apples.

Now, horses are large, apple-loving animals. However, in the diet of the horse, it is widely recognized that apples cannot, or at least *should* not, represent an especially large portion of the total diet, given their sugar, acid, and fiber content, and that as a dietary supplement they are both edible and enjoyable to feed horses with as a treat, but there is an upper limit to the amount (both absolute and relative/proportional) and number of apples that is healthy and advisable to feed a horse on a daily basis. The 'hard upper limit' for the healthy daily apple consumption for a horse is a subject of some debate and a variety of estimates. Which means that in fact, in reality, there is no 'hard' upper limit. However, the general consensus seems, from what I could gather from the multiple sources I consulted, to be that yes, horses love to eat apples, and will do so eagerly with great relish, but that no, it is not a good idea to give a large number of apples (really, any more than 10, MAX) to a horse on a daily basis, day after day, and no, sweets and treats like apples should not be a staple in the horse's diet, and indeed, unless you want a bunch of colicky, founder-y, diabetic horses with sour stomachs and loose bowels, you should not attempt to maintain them on diets in which apples (and the like) comprise a significant portion of the total food intake volume.

Now, remember the yield estimates given above? In an 800-tree orchard that produces (assuming rootstock cultivars that are fully 'dwarf' in size) an annual number of apples ranging from THREE-HUNDRED-AND-TWENTY-FOUR-THOUSAND to WELL-OVER-HALF-A-MILLION, if even 5% of the apples failed to be harvested by the volunteers who have promised to do so, and needed to be 'vacuumed up' by the 5 DMP horses (as imagined by all those who attempt to dismiss the worries and fears of concerned local residents, and clearly, many *have* used this very idea to justify such breezy dismissal, with references to the ability of the DPM horses to 'take care of' any stray apples that 'happen to fall to the ground')... even if ONLY 5% of the 324,000-to-540,000 apples produced by the orchard managed to fall from the trees before the diligent troupe of volunteers managed to harvest them, and thus needed to be gobbled up by the 5 adorable horsies of the DMP before they became an attractive beacon to rodentia (among other wildlife)......THIS 5% WOULD STILL REPRESENT, GIVEN THE ASSUMPTIONS ABOVE, APPROXIMATELY 16,200-to-27,000 FALLEN APPLES WAITING TO BE EATEN IF NOT BY THE FIVE ADORABLE HORSIES THAN BY OTHER FORMS OF WILDLIFE, INCLUDING RATS[*] (goddamnit!), ATTRACTED BY THE FALLEN BOUNTY.

How many apples, per-horse, per-day, is an annual fallen apple count of 16,200-27,000, if there are 5 horses per orchard and 365 days per year?

Let's do the math:

16,200 (5% of the lower-bound total annual yield estimate) / 5 (horses) = 3,240... / 365 (days) = 8.87 (call it 9) apples-per-horse-per-day, every day of the 365-day-year.

27,000 (5% of the upper-bound total annual yield estimate) / 5 (horses) = 5,400... / 365 (days) = 14.79 (call it, for all practical purposes, 15) apples-per-horse-per-day, every single day of the 365-day-year.

  • Incidentally, when estimating the daily number of apples the 5 horses will have to eat (assuming a 5% failure-to-harvest rate, which is, itself, a generous estimate) the numbers you get when taking that 5%-of-total-annual-yield and dividing it evenly by the 365-day year are misleading and poorly representative of the actual reality; unless the dropped apples are diligently collected (by whomever) and then FROZEN (or in some way processed) and then regularly thawed back out and rationed out daily to the horses over the course of the entire year, the actual number of "ground apples" the horses will have to consume per day (their "daily consumption rate") to keep up with the apple drop rate is actually considerably higher. The apples do not continuously develop and drop at a perfectly even rate throughout the 365 calender days of the year, but do so quite intensely during the much shorter portion of the year known as the "apple growing/harvest season". I am not familiar enough with MI apple agriculture to paint a detailed picture of this relevant seasonal period but, I just thought I'd point out that in reality, just because the year-to-year yield average is X quantity, that does not make it methodologically sound to extrapolate the daily value with the simple computation of X/365. It should really be X/#-of-days-in-season, to get a blunt average, and in all likelihood the real number on a given day or week will vary depending on what point in the season you are considering, probably best depicted visually by some type of curve.

    Also, I read somewhere that it's not a good idea to just throw whole apples down for one's horses to eat because the seeds are apparently not too good for them and should be cored out before the apples' flesh is presented to the animal. So I'd also like to also point out that even if the plan was to throw caution and consensus wisdom to the wind, and actually try to make the 5 horses serve the function of "ground apple clean-up duty", these apples, many of them presumably in various states of decomposition, would require, at the very least, the labor of coring each and every one of them out by hand before feeding them to the horses. All 16,200-to-27,000 of them... to say nothing of time and labor, that's a lot of pairing knives!

I think it is safe to say that it is as unrealistic to expect as it is irresponsible to demand that these animals consume what most equine vets and owners would describe, even at the lower end of the estimated range, as a totally unhealthy and inadvisable daily intake level of apples.

And never-mind that this also assumes that the horses will want to and should eat the apples that drop prematurely from the trees even though these are likely to be less sweet and more acidic than fully ripe apples.

And never-mind that this also assumes that the dropped apples will be given to the horses almost immediately upon their falling lest the continual presence of small numbers of recently/freshly dropped apples draw unwanted wildlife despite the remaining apples eventually being fed to the horses after an indeterminate period of lying on the ground.

Or that this also necessarily assumes that the other 95% of the total yield of the 800-tree orchard, (=102,600-to-171,000 medium sized apples), will NOT fall unharvested to the ground but will, instead, be faithfully harvested and 'brought to market' and that, further, the local market will be able to bear an additional supply of that magnitude, and that the additional supply that these apples represent will have all the requisite qualities that make them, in fact, in reality, ACTUALLY SELLABLE. This, I believe, is an assumption which requires a degree of faith on the part of understandably skeptical parties that is, I believe, neither truly realistic, nor reasonable to expect from the neighborhood residents who are essentially being told, "Look, just trust us (and fuck you if you don't)".

Planting 500-800 donated sapling transplants is not the same thing as diligently making sure that none or few of the LITERALLY HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of apples they produce each season do not end up rotting on the ground long enough to draw vermin to the area. Proving that you 'have what it takes' in terms of resources, commitment, and where-with-all to get that number of donated seedlings into the ground IN NO WAY PROVES OR EVEN SUBSTANTIALLY REASSURES would-be concerned parties that you will, in fact, deal adequately with the 'fruit of that initial labor'. (Pun-very-much-intended.)

Not to belabor the point and beat-the-proverbial-dead-horse but, the fear, specifically, is what will happen to even the small percent, the tiny fraction, of the total fruit produced that likely won't find its way to harvest but instead to the orchard floor, when the numbers involved with a project of this scale are so huge that even a tiny fraction, a small percent of that total still potentially represents LITERALLY DOZENS OF THOUSANDS of individual fruits dropped in a concentrated area over a relatively short period of time.

[*] And about the whole "Rats don't eat apples"/"Apple orchards that drop thousands of individual fruits in a small space over a small time-period (because they are an entirely not-for-profit volunteer-reliant project being conducted on public land) aren't attractive to vermin so like, STFU, god!" ...thing, that I keep encountering people asserting as if that mere assertion in itself totally destroyed, in full, any possible argument against a commercial-scale fruit orchard being grown in Palmer Park that could be made by any homeowners with property adjacent or near to said park... All I have to say about that is, Google "opportunistic omnivore" and "Roof Rat" (one of two species of rat more-or-less common to the Midwest that, despite its fundamental willingness to eat WTF-ever it manages to scavenge, nevertheless, has a decided preference, specifically, FOR FRUIT, contrary to the incessant and insistent assertions (made by pro-orchard folks in a number of comment threads I've read) that rats, like, as a genus, are as disinterested in ground-rotting fruit as gay men are in naked female virgins.

  • ...Oops. When I said 95% of the total would mean 102,600-171,000 "medium sized apples", what I should have and meant to say was 102,600-171,000 "POUNDS" of apples, which, in terms of individual apples actually means 307,800-513,000 individual, medium sized apples; a big, big, difference when you consider the # of apples that one is assuming will be sold to individuals at farmers' markets, given the number of apples typically sold together to any one such buyer.

So anyway, it is IMHO ridiculous and disrespectful and patronizing and dismissive to suggest that the fear of rodent attraction expressed by various concerned 'stakeholders' (to use the touchy-feely jargon of 'progressive' activists and 'urban studies' majors) is unfounded because:

"The 5 police horsies will gobble up all those yummy rotting, over-and/or-under-ripe fallen apples, almost as soon as they hit the ground, thus well before they could possibly attract a population of opportunistic omnivorous scavengers commonly considered to be destructive, disease-bearing vermin. 'Cause like, dude! Horsies!"

Or, alternately, but no less commonly,

"Not that [the horsies] would even, like, need to gobble up the apples since everyone knows that rats ['Only-like/eat-meat'(?!) / 'Have-never-been-known-to-be-attracted-to-easily-accessible-sources-of-carbohydrate-rich-foods'(?!) / 'Are-killed-deader-than-a-door-nail-by-apple-seeds-s'like-problem-solved!'(?!)]".

This kind of response, to the issue of will-the-volunteers-who-planted-the-donated-trees-be-equally-comitted-in-the-long-term-to-keeping-the-potentially-hundreds-of-thousands-of-apples-the-orchard-produces-from-strewing-the-ground-in-a-rodent-enticing-way, betrays a fundamental (and I do mean, literally fundamental, like, as a starting point) lack of respect and disregard for the all too legitimate concerns of people whose concerns should be given, fundamentally, as a starting point, a very serious level of consideration. There is nothing serious about either of the two broad types of response that I've encountered to this particular concern held by some of the local residents (which is, in fact, only one of a larger # of basically-valid concerns so-far-expressed).

In fact, responses such as these are every bit the antithesis of seriousness, and are, as such, incredibly insulting (one can only assume) to the residents who have had their expressed concerns responded to in such ways, which is to say, not responded to at all.

That is all I have to say. So I bid thee all good day.

(Incidentally, BTW, as a demonstrative example of just 'how many' 16,200 is, this comment, including the two additional addenda, is itself only 16,000 characters in length. ;)

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