I woke up. It was a chicken morning, and the first thing that I saw was a chicken at my window and about 20 at my door. They were clucking at me impatiently and reminding me that even though we had set our clocks back an hour, the official time did not faze them in the least.

The sun was almost up over the creek valley hill, and they were ready for their scratch grain treat.

“Oh no, girls,” I implored. “I have been waiting for this luxurious, extra morning hour for some time now. You’ll just have to wait.”

Greg and I ate our breakfast and sipped our coffee and listened to the birds stomping across the porch. Sometimes I imagine that they must weigh 50 pounds, or perhaps be wearing cement shoes, in order to tromp so loudly. The morning was actually amazingly warm for early November, so I opened the cabin’s front door to let in the fresh air. The hungry birds all gathered on the threshold, and through the screen we watched as they impatiently stomped and chortled. I actually felt a bit guilty as I tried to relax and enjoy our extra morning hour.

In time, the old cuckoo clock on the wall signaled that yes, it was finally the official hour to begin our morning chores. Greg pushed back from the breakfast table, pulled on his rubber boots and stepped out onto the porch, the dogs right by his side.

As I carried the dishes over to the sink, I could hear his footsteps heading down the front stairs to the water spigot. I could also hear the chickens clomping along right beside him. I listened as he filled the galvanized bucket to head out into the animal yard and replenish assorted water supplies, and then, as I started to wash the dishes, I watched out the window as Greg, surrounded by doggish and feathered adoration, headed out toward our waiting creatures.

As I washed the morning dishes, I thought again of this thing called time. I certainly know the difference between night and day, and sometimes mark the passage of time by a growl in my stomach reminding me that it is time for a meal, but I quickly came to realize that my flock of hens was far more adroit at telling time than I could ever hope to be. Their solar-powered door opens shortly before day break, and as soon as the sky has turned to morning light, they flow in a feathered river down the coop ramp and out into the upper field. They peck their way across the yard, heading up the hill and drinking the fresh dew drops off of the grass.

They then stop by rabbit row, scratching for any of the morning’s fresh worms that were foolish enough to get too close to the surface and finally, within an hour, they make their way over to the front porch, to wait for their morning scratch grain treat. They know that it is time.

Our chickens’ whole day is perfectly ordered and really does run much like clockwork. Midday, they circle the log house. In the afternoon, they make their way down to the lower fields and scratch around the large compost pile. By early evening, they have returned up the hill to hang out in the goat yard. And as then, just as the light begins to fade from the creek valley sky, they return to their coop to roost. The ever so organized life of a creek valley chicken.

So, this morning, we had set our clocks back an hour, but our hens had not. We had disrupted their chicken routine, but as they followed Greg out into the upper field, I could see that they were wonderfully forgiving creatures. A little scratch grain quickly cured all, at least on this chicken morning.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.