Open Spaces: Beyond the Container | Open Spaces: Signs of Spring at the Farm

Open Spaces

Signs of Spring at the Farm


story and photography by jason bitton

It's early March and you come across this article titled, “Signs of Spring at the Farm”. You glance outside and say “yeah, right” to yourself. March is such a rogue month. It probably has the most variable weather of any month during the entire year—heavy, wet snow or mud.

But if there is some snow outside, if there is a new layer left, it can be a sign of spring. If snow had fallen in January or February, the temperature would be falling to zero tonight and quite possibly it would be blown about and drifted by a raging blizzard and be on the ground until the next thaw. For any snow here now, it will be gone in just a few days.

This writer set foot on or drove through Barrington Hills Farm’s 700 acres probably every other day last year. The farms acreage, flora, and fauna are diverse and appeals that much to someone like me who fancies himself a wildlife photographer.

Since there are no visible crop preparations taking place on the farm right now, we are printing “signs of spring” photos from previous years.

I took the little “Modern Art” ice picture (above) on March 25, 2017. The sandhill cranes in the snow photo was taken on March 29, and the sandhill crane with its newly hatched colt about a month later. The little fellow didn’t eat the worm fast enough—he gave up trying to get it down for just a moment when “mom” grabbed it and put it away herself. What a mom!

April 19 was a spectacular day. The ice I had broken through just a month earlier was off the ponds, and turtles were basking on logs, a canvasback duck was feeding in a weed bed, and a kildeer was scouring the shoreline in search of worms or insects. The swallows had just arrived and presumably chased a pair of demur bluebirds off their nesting site. But the big find of the day was a beautiful mourning cloak butterfly I found out in an open field.

The little white rue anemone blossom that was right next to the gate I used to enter the farm was ‘just there’ one day. Two weeks later, it was 100 percent gone. Spring is around the corner, and there are signs—though fleeting—if you take a moment to look.

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For Paul McFadden, the Barrington Hills area and what was then the MacArthur Farm and now is Barrington Hills Farm offers opportunities for his camera work with nature. He can be reached at: Learn more about the environmental and health benefits of Barrington Hills Farm at