Royalston’s Aurora Ranch began in 1979 when George Northrop and Kate Collins left the former Jolly Road commune and bought twelve and one-half acres of land for farming. Later, they added a 100-acre parcel and cleared for grazing. Three buildings—a traditional timber-framed barn, a more modern barn, and a Rocky Mountain-style house that mixes log-cabin structure with timber-framing—are located on the smaller parcel. Some of the construction took place with memorable “barn-raising” work parties.
In 2005, the couple bought 20 acres on the west side of their pasture from Mount Grace. The trust acquired the land from the Wachtel family during the Tully Initiative, placing a conservation restriction on the property and then looking for a buyer. By purchasing the protected land, Northrop and Collins helped provide funds for future conservation in Royalston. “Philosophically, Kate and I strongly support what Mount Grace is doing,” explains Northrop. “We are very interested in seeing open land remain so.”
Kate and George breed and train border collies at the ranch, which sells organically raised chickens, lamb, and beef, as well as sheepskins and fleece (phone 978-249-4407). The 133-acre farm, on Taft Hill Road makes up part of a significant wildlife corridor associated with Priest Brook and the state’s Birch Hill Wildlife Management Area.
Pictures from tours of the farm include George and Kate in the pasture and spring lambs.