Way of the future | The Grykuliaks choose to raise natural beef for the price premium
MYRNAM, Alta. — Kim Grykuliak revels in the simple life on her Spring Creek cattle farm.
“It’s a good life, especially for raising a family,” she said.
“I work every day and do jobs. The kids are with me and we’re running around. We can play with the kittens and puppies. It’s simple. It’s nice to have calm.”
This warm day, her youngest children, Avery, 6, and Owen, 4, play with their newest toy, an inflatable slide and pool just steps from a jungle gym and playhouse.
Wintertime is a little less idyllic for Kim, who was raised in Sherwood Park, Alta., trained as a dental assistant, married her farmer husband, John, and moved to his 107-year-old family farm.
“Winter is hard. I feel isolated,” she said.
Over the years, she’s bonded with John’s friends in the area and spends time camping with them each year at local lakes.
She makes time to ride some of their 10 horses, scrapbook, serve on the gymnastics club board and drive her three children to school in St. Paul.
By implementing management practices that make the 225 head commercial cow-calf herd largely self-sufficient, John also makes time to volunteer for the local fire brigade and help with son Brodie’s high school football team.
The Grykuliaks own 14 quarters of land and rent another six, growing feed, canola, barley, wheat and oats.
They rely on a natural spring creek as their cattle’s water source, calve out in April on stockpiled grass and avoid densely stocking their pastures.
Swath grazing and grazing standing corn are also used to extend the season for cattle.
“That lightens the workload,” John said.
“We try not to hands-on feed the cows in the winter, but let them do the work.”
Kim and John have chosen to produce natural beef, avoiding the use of hormones or antibiotics.
“We were eating that ourselves, we feel it’s the way of the future, a better product, better prices,” said Kim.
“It’s something we can be proud of.”
Added John: “It’s extra money, and Kim likes the part of us offering something healthy.”
In 2007, Northlands and the Alberta Motor Association rewarded the Grykuliaks’ community service and farming expertise with a Farm Family Award.
John’s grandparents, John and Wasylna Grykuliak, came here from Ukraine in 1907, later passing the reins to Peter and Olga Grykuliak.
“They lived in a dirt house in the bank of the creek until they built their house,” he said.
Today, John and Kim get help with chores from Brodie when he’s not participating in competitive sports, which range from hockey to rodeo.
The couple said they encourage their children to pursue post-secondary training but also support their decision to return home.
“We’ll be ready if any of the kids want to farm,” said Kim.