Open Spaces

Mother Nature - A Painted Lady


story and photography by Paul McFadden

Barrington Hills Farm, which is located principally between Haegers Bend Road on the west, and Spring Creek and Chapel Roads on the south and north, consists of a diverse 600 acres of which approximately 420 acres are planted this year to wheat, oats, and sunflowers. The remaining acreage is oak woodlands and wetlands. The wetlands are primarily marsh areas; some adjoin, some are isolated.

Our Barrington Hills Farm “Open Spaces” photo feature in this issue highlights one of these marsh areas.

I live nearby and have photographed the area almost daily for nearly 40 years. Day in, day out, same time, same location, same camera, and same shot, but that “same shot” always turns out different. Mother Nature, you see, is an artist, but sometimes not a very good one. Like life, it is sometimes difficult to put a “pretty face” on what she hands us some days, but we do our best anyway.

The highlight feature of this marsh is a 5- to 7-acre open water pond that is fed by runoff water from adjoining cropland. On wet years, such as this one, it will flood an adjoining roadway. An occasional drought year will come along and it will dry up entirely.

There is considerable wildlife activity on the pond’s water and in the surrounding trees most of the year. There are mallards, Canada geese, canvas backs, wood ducks, sandhill cranes, great blue herons, great egrets, green herons, hawks, crows, blackbirds, bluebirds, swallows, kildeer, an occasional grebe, muskrats, mink, turtles and frogs—and also newts or salamanders which we have seen as they were caught by the raptors. Buzzards circle overhead. There are no fish and there are no sparrows. In the winter there is zero activity, except for crows.

Barrington Hills Farm is 600 acres of pristine, undeveloped land located at Haegers Bend and Spring Creek Roads in the northwestern most corner of Barrington Hills. The rarity of Barrington Hills lies in its open space, fresh air, clean water, and abundant wildlife. The land is valuable and delicate and in constant need of stewardship to keep it that way.

— Dawn M. Davis, President of Barrington Hills Farm

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Paul McFadden has lived in unincorporated Algonquin for nearly 50 years. The Barrington Hills area and especially what was then the MacArthur Farm and now is Barrington Hills Farm offer abundant opportunities for McFadden and his camera to commune with nature. He may be reached at