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2010 Centre graduate chooses farming as a career

Alex Hajek hopes to win a national FFA award in beef production

Staff writer

Alex Hajek of Tampa graduated from Centre High School in May. He has been involved in his family’s farm operation since childhood and plans to make agricultural production his career.

With the average age of farmers nearing 60, his dedication to farming is an encouraging sign.

Alex has a 23-year-old brother, Andrew, who also works on the farm. Andrew has a degree in agriculture economics from Kansas State University. He is employed by Terry Vinduska in his seed business west of Pilsen but expects to join the farming operation full-time before long.

The brothers also have a 20-year-old sister, Amy, who is in nursing school.

Both boys were involved in 4-H and FFA. Andrew placed second in the state in farm management and agriculture business.

After winning district and state proficiency awards in beef production, Alex is at the national convention in Indianapolis this week as one of four contenders for a national award.

He won $500 and a plaque at the state convention and can win another $500 and another plaque if he wins the national award.

He said a major part of the process for getting an FFA award is the interview, and his involvement in the farm operation from childhood has had a lot to do with his ability to answer the judges’ questions.

“There’s a difference between going through the motions and knowing what you are talking about,” he said.

His interview at the national convention will be projected on a big screen in front of the entire convention audience.

In high school, Alex spent a lot of time in the shop, building equipment for the farm’s cattle operation, including a loading chute, cattle panels, gates, and a small shed.

His plans to study farm and ranch management at Hutchinson Community College were put on hold after Andrew was injured in an ATV rollover accident this summer. He has recovered, but a lot of farm work remains to be done.

“I’ll probably stay out of school this year,” Alex said. “It’s been a busy year on the farm.”

Hajek Farm and Ranch

The Hajek farm was started by Andrew and Alex’s grandfather, Martin Hajek, who now lives at St. Luke Living Center in Marion. Their father, John Hajek, was farming with Martin when the farm crisis hit in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

They had minimal debt and were able to enlarge their operation when land prices fell. Since then, it has grown to include a large acreage of owned and rented land spread over a wide area.

In addition to a diversified farming operation, the Hajeks also feed cattle year round. They place cattle on grass every spring. The calves are sold later to larger feedlots for fattening.

John Hajek still makes most of the major farm decisions. According to Alex, the Hajeks plan to form a family corporation in the next year or two.

Andrew and Alex have differing interests, which helps to provide a good working relationship. With their father as supervisor, Andrew enjoys fieldwork, and Alex likes cattle. And they all work together to get their work done.

Each son has 200 head of his own cattle, and Andrew also has 80 acres of land, which gives them a personal stake in the business. They exchange their labor for feed from their father.

“I’ve always liked farming,” Alex said. “Instead of going to the baby sitter when I was little, I rode around with my dad.”

By the time he was a freshman in high school, he knew all about farming, he said. He just had to learn about the newest technology and new methods of doing things.

All of the farm machinery owned and operated by Hajek Farm and Ranch is equipped with Global Positioning Satellite and automatic-steering technology, making it possible to do precision farming even at night. All of the cropland is farmed using the no-till method.

Alex spends daylight hours working with the cattle and evening and nighttime hours in the field during the growing season.

On his horse, Dusty, he rides through the lots daily looking for signs of sickness. He treats sick cattle by running them through a squeeze chute and administering medications.

“With cattle, it’s a different pace all the time,” he said. “They have a mind of their own. I like to read their mind and beat them to the punch.”

Last modified Oct. 21, 2010

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