Ruth has lived a rural lifestyle all of her life and is still actively farming over 3,300 acres alongside her husband and three sons. The original homestead of her parents is just north of where she resides today, the same farm she settled on with her husband over 50 years ago.
Ruth was married in 1963 at the age of 16 and started her life as a rural farm woman northeast of Grassland in Athabasca County. The farm raised beef, pigs, poultry (chicken, geese and pheasants), as well as grain.
Together they raised five children and as they grew up they were all taught by Ruth to help out and be proud of the farm they grew up on. Agriculture has always been the primary source of income for Ruth and family.
INVOLVEMENT WITH THE FARM
Ruth has always taken pride in the family farm and took a lead role in maintaining the yard, gardens and crops. She was not afraid to get behind the wheel of field equipment and assisted to swath grain and operate haying equipment. Her work with the cattle side of the farm was no different. She assisted during calving, managed livestock records for the whole family and even invested in her own cows. Milk cows were also part of the operation and she separated milk and processed cream from them.
Ruth knew raising poultry was an important source of food for her family. As a result she raised chickens, geese, bantam chickens and pheasants. The chickens and geese were raised for food and the eggs were sold as a source of income for the family. With Ruth’s support her son (who had a passion for pheasants) was able to keep up to 2,000 birds yearly.
Gardening has always been a passion for Ruth and at one time she maintained four gardens on her family farm. Ruth enjoys canning, pickling, picking fresh berries and making jams. She also bakes on a large scale and always has goodies in her deep freeze for times when neighbours and friends step in for a visit. Company is always welcome to stay for a meal and she shared the bounty from her gardens with friends in the city who don’t have the space to grow the things she is able to on the farm. She once grew a 65 pound pumpkin and won a Blue Ribbon in Boyle for its size!
The important role of running for parts and providing meals were also contributions she made. Ruth is also handy with a saw, hammer and nails whether it be for shelving or building an outhouse. She also ran her own successful business on the farm with her ceramic shop and taught ceramic classes for over 25 years. She is talented at sewing, making clothes for her own children, summer dresses for her granddaughters, quilts, Christmas table runners, toques and neck warmers. As a result of their hard work, the Grygus Family Farm received the Northlands AMA Farm Family Award in 2008 in recognizing their high standard of farming and rural citizenship.
CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE COMMUNITY
In the past Ruth has served on the Grassland Homecoming committees and the Grassland Hall Board. She was part of a group of volunteers who helped to rebuild the hall in 2002, and always played a major role in these huge projects including the design of a modem kitchen with the capacity to prepare food for crowds of 800.
Other involvements included the Grassland Horn Scoring committee, the creation of Grassland History Books, the Atmore Community League. Ruth also served as the CWL President, was a member of 4-H while her young children attended the program, and is currently involved with quilting groups from Grassland, Athabasca, Atmore and Lac La Biche.
She also canvassed for the Red Cross and hosted Farmer’s Day celebrations for the neighbors including a pig roast, ball and horseshoe games. Today, Ruth continues to be an active member of the Grassland Agricultural Society. She has volunteered countless hours in the hall kitchen for anything from community socials, weddings, funerals, to private functions. Her talent has always been cooking. She still plans the Spring and Christmas Bake and Craft Sale in Grassland, now 20 years in 2018.
She works with the Boyle Farmer’s Market and Athabasca Farmer’s Market to help make these events meet required health regulations. She takes all table bookings (sometimes 50+ tables) and makes sure the events run smoothly. She sells her own ceramics, quilts, and baking at sales and participated in 2018 Grassland Christmas sale. Ruth attends surrounding community sales and farmer’s markets, visiting and supporting their efforts. She is well-known and can converse with most anyone.
Ruth is also giving of her personal time and volunteers at community functions either working admission, liquor ticket sales or in the kitchen.
Other involvements include:
• Volunteering for the Grassland School Hot Lunch Program making perogies at the Hall
• Was active in the Atmore Catholic church
• Has volunteered her time and material for Quilts for Humanity project
• Donated sewing material to the Lac La Biche Friendship Centre
• Always makes an effort to visit the sick and elderly
PERSONAL EFFORTS MADE
Ruth is truly a hard worker and has possessed this quality all of her life. She is a farmer and is selfless with her time, always making an effort for what is important. Having no running water in the early days made life challenging and she washed clothing and diapers by hand.
Her perseverance and commitment to the farm and her family, shows her as a strong role model to her children and grandchildren. Despite market prices, unpredictable weather, and equipment repairs, the farm continues to be a success and family members feel this is in large part because of Ruth.
One year while she was baling, the baler had caught fire. Rather than panicking, Ruth managed to wave down the neighbor in the next field and they were able to unhook the baler from the tractor so they could save the tractor. Ruth’s positive attitude has never changed throughout the years… Always Help Your Neighbors!