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Brothers discover unexpected demand for service

News editor

Brett, Darrin, and Trent Hajek of Lost Springs grew up on their parents’ farm, but after high school, all three went elsewhere for work and education.

All three eventually found themselves returning home to help their parents, Ron and Leona Hajek, again. While browsing the Internet one day, they found an old silage cutter for sale. They decided it would be a lot better than the pull-behind model they used on the farm, so they bought it.

After they started using it on the farm, they started getting calls from other farmers wanting to hire them to cut fields. Soon after, they realized that they would need a bigger cutter to meet the demand. They formed Hajek Enterprises, LLC, in 2009 and made a business out of silage cutting.

The brothers are now on their third cutter, each a bigger model than the previous one, and they probably aren’t done upgrading.

“We’re realizing it still isn’t big enough,” Brett said Sunday. “We’re going to end up buying a fourth one.”

Cutting silage is cutting a crop, stalks and all, into small pieces suitable to feed to cattle. Corn is the crop most commonly cut for silage, the Hajeks said, but milo and oats also are fairly commonly cut. Cutting fields for silage is usually done when it isn’t worth harvesting the grain.

Kansas State University says that corn with yields below 25 bushels an acre is better to cut for silage. With the hot and dry summer of 2011, the Hajeks cut one corn field that an insurance adjuster estimated would have yielded 0.6 bushels an acre, Brett said.

Last year was a busy one for the brothers’ business. Lots of corn fields were chopped for silage, but many farmers kept putting it off because weather forecasters kept teasing that rain was on the way.

Working together as brothers results in a different dynamic than working with a business partner or their parents. When they were growing up, they had their share of fights, because that is what brothers do. Darrin and Trent especially were constantly fighting, Darrin said, but they eventually grew out of it.

“We looked at each other one day and realized we hadn’t had a fight in six months,” Trent said.

Now they don’t fight, but there are plenty of differences of opinion on how to run the business. When differences arise, they sit down and talk as a group about what to do. It can take a while to reach agreement, because all three are equally stubborn, Darrin said.

In June 2010, they bought a mechanic shop in Lost Springs so they would have a place to repair their equipment. Like silage cutting, they soon found that other people in the area wanted to hire them for repairs, and they opened the shop to customers in October 2011.

Silage cutting can be an unpredictable business with a lot of ups and downs, Brett said. Sometimes they don’t have any third-party work to do, and at other times there is so much that they can’t help on the family farm.

“But Dad has the ins on getting his feed cut,” Brett said.

Unlike many other silage cutting businesses, the Hajeks don’t want to expand their trade area too much. They have plenty of work in Marion, Chase, and Dickinson counties, and they don’t want to take jobs that require a hotel stay.

The Hajeks enjoy their farm work, and they don’t intend to expand into entertainment ventures, unlike another trio of Kansas farm brothers who have risen to fame online recently.

“We won’t do any singing or dancing,” Darrin said in reference to the music video parody “I’m Farming and I Grow It.”

The video, which was posted on YouTube on June 25, had more than 5 million views by Monday.

Last modified July 11, 2012

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