The chicken coop -- rearmored after sad experience with mink, foxes and raccoons -- nestles under the trees, including the ones holding the children's treehouse.
Along with the swimming pool, bocce ball court and sledding hill, they draw the headlines at a Barrington Hills estate open for the 13th Annual Barrington Country Garden & Antique Faire. After all, who can resist a family of growing chicks complete with dad the rooster and the whimsy of a sign: "Hot Chicks Live Here."
What:Barrington Country Garden & Antique Faire
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, June 21, and Saturday, June 22.
Where: Buses leave every 15 minutes from 800 Hart Road (across the street from Barrington High School) and on Friday only also from the high school, 616 W. Main St.
Tickets: $40 through June 16; $50 June 17 and after. Early Buy ticket for $75 lets people in at 8:30 a.m. Friday for shopping.
Benefits:Hands of Hope, a local organization dedicated to helping women and children in Africa.
Information: (847) 381-7367 or handsofhopeonline.org.
Etc.: The main estate will host sales, entertainment and food choices. A third estate, which was on the tour several years ago, features much-heralded gardens, including 11 ponds and a private lake.
But the 5 acres of gently rolling land holding a large new home in a style that's almost a mix of Tudor and prairie also offer a coordinating tea house and quiet areas under the ancient trees.
The Barrington Hills estate is one of three open June 21 and 22 for visitors to stroll as part of the faire, a fundraiser for projects in Africa.
This haven is a great family spot providing fresh eggs for breakfast and the homeowner's baking, vegetables from the garden and flowers for tables inside and out.
The chickens were inspired by the rural childhood of the homeowner's mother, and she likes the bustle they provide and, of course, the eggs, "something fresh that you eat just then." The vegetable garden -- recently moved to grab more sun -- grows potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, onions, arugula, parsley and other herbs. The cutting garden blooms with dahlias, poppies, black-eyed Susan, iris, gerber daisies and cosmos.
Even the small, one-room tea house does double duty, serving as a warming house with a blazing fireplace in winter when youngsters sled down a hill beside it and a shelter for adult conversation on summer evenings.
The entrance to the large cream-and-taupe house built in 2004 is impressive. After a narrow tree-lined lane, visitors see terraced limestone walls holding boxwood, pink Knock Out roses, lilacs, hydrangea and pachysandra. They frame planters boasting the trumpet blooms of pink mandevilla.
The Iowa bluestone pool deck presents its own gardens, featuring dwarf lilac trees, rose bushes and crabapple trees. Among the not-to-be missed sights: two large pedestal urns decorated with very colorful broken pieces of glass.
Bluestone also forms the rear patio under a pergola where purple clematis climbs. Climbing hydrangea back here "takes over the house," reports the homeowner. In the rear yard, visitors will notice a flourishing white tree friends gave to memorialize the homeowner's mother.
Other trees around the property include smoke, birch, crabapple, maple and oak, but one of the largest elms in Barrington Hills with a canopy that spread over the whole house succumbed to disease. And the spring blooms are past on the many dwarf lilac trees.
Here's one more highlight in the lawn and gardens cared for by Jose Fajardo of Dream Home Landscaping in Mundelein: roses. The multitude of bushes around the grounds further the homeowner's palette that tends toward pink, blue and white.