The 2017 wheat harvest marks Mike Barnett’s final run with the John Deere Harvester Works Customer Support Team. For this special edition of the All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ podcast, Mike talks with AAWH’s Sarah Moyer, explaining his perspective of custom harvesters persevering through the difficult year. He also comments on his team from this year and those from years past. Tune in to step out on the road with Mike.
It’s been a wonderful experience knowing these people. I’m fortunate that I got involved in this… Welcome on today’s special edition of the All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ podcast. I’m Sarah Moyer with round two from Mike Barnett. He is with the John Deere Harvester Works Customer Support Team. It was our pleasure to have him on last week, and as a recap (if you missed it) Mike has been with the John Deere Harvester Works Customer Support Team since 1991, which was the first year that they set out to the road along with the harvesters. Mike, we talked about your experience with the team. It is your final run on the harvest trail – a big year for you and your crew. When I met you at the Kickoff for All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ in Clinton, Oklahoma, it seemed like the relationship that you had with some of the harvesters there was a good one… Have you made some friendships through the years?
Absolutely. Like I said, the first year I went out we were kind of green… The first year I listened a lot more than I talked, but the next year we went out and things were a little bit better. And, you know, after the second year we went out, we went back. You know, we did more improvements. But just learning, talking to the guys… I’ve known some of them for a long time now. I’ve watched their kids grow up. It’s been a wonderful experience knowing these people. I’m fortunate that I got involved in this, because somebody told me once that harvest gets in your blood. And it does. I mean, it really does. I look forward to it every year. You know, it can be long hard days and some long hard hours, but to me it’s worth it. I really enjoy working with the end user customers and John Deere dealers, you know, all the way from Texas to Canada. It’s a great experience every year. And I really enjoy it, and I’ve learned so much about their business over the years and made some great friendships.
And it doesn’t seem like although this is your final run, you will probably try to make it back out to some fields for fun next year during harvest.
Yeah, that’s the plan. I hope I have the opportunity to do that. I don’t think you’d just be able to walk away from it. You know, like I said, we made a lot of great friends, and I talk to them, you know, a lot on the phone. And a big part too is U.S. Custom Harvesters Annual Convention… We’re a big part of that. So that’s a three or four day event every year that we always attend. It’s pretty good time. We do clinics and classes… just get together and talk. And it’s a good place to exchange information, and we look forward to the convention every year too.
Looking ahead to what you’ll be doing post-harvest this year… What are you most looking forward to?
Well, when we get back after this harvest is over, I’ll have a few things, you know, that I’ll need to button up work wise. And then I have to start the whole retirement process, and I’m not even sure what that is yet. I know it’s going to be a few phone calls and some emails, and [I’ll] try to get that all organized… Come up with a final date and a final day and I guess start planning the retirement party.
Will you be inviting any harvesters out to that?
Yeah, I’ve told several of them that it’s coming and they’re going to be invited. They all say the same thing: “You gotta wait ’till harvest is over.” Well, we’ll just have to see how it works out.
And let’s go ahead and take a quick break here midway, Mike. As we do continue, I’d like to talk with you about the struggles of customer harvesters this year. It has been a challenging year, as I know they would attest, and you would attest as someone who interacts with so many custom harvesters yourself. We would like to go ahead, though, before we get to that and thank our primary sponsors for this podcast. Those being High Plains Journal and John Deere – a great partnership with both of those entities.
Mike, this year has been a tough year for custom harvesters, in particular. And with all your experience, what do you see as the response for custom harvesters and how they’ve persevered through tough years in the past.
Well, we were talking about that the other day. This has been a tough year for them, and it seems like the resiliency of these people has always amazed me. What they were able to accomplish during the spring, summer and fall harvests has always amazed me and it does to this day. I know some of them are facing really tough runs. I couple of them I talked to are done… for the wheat harvest. But a lot of times if the wheat harvest doesn’t go so well for them… then they have a chance, you know, to kind of catch up or make up a little bit on their fall run. In some areas of the country, there’s going to be a few of them, you know that are going to have much of a fall run either. But we’ve had some tough years before. They always bounce back... I’ve talked to him before when they’ve had rough years. They’re not sure about this and they’re not sure about that, and then the next year you go down to Texas and there they are and they’re ready to go again. They definitely have a never say die attitude. They’ve just been a joy to work with for all these years. And I’m going to miss it when it’s done. But it’s just, just time.
What do you think you’ll miss most?
Probably one of the things I’m going to miss most is working with my team… There’s been a lot of guys involved in this over the years. You know, I was lucky enough to been involved since the start, so like right now we’ve got some excellent guys on our team. And their young guys that understand, and they know combines. I try to, you know, teach them the business end of it with custom cutters… and what the custom cutters expect from us and everything else. And they are all willing to, you know, leave home for two or three weeks and put in some pretty hard days. They do an excellent job, and I’m definitely going to miss that part of it. It seems like we have one or two new guys every year that we take out. And there’s no better place for them to learn… It’s a good learning experience for them. It helps him out a lot in their jobs. That’s going to be a big part of it that I miss as well.
Those were some closing thoughts from Mike Barnett of the John Deere Harvester Works Customer Support Team. This is his final run on the harvest trail as a member of that team. He’s been with it since the beginning and is proud to be a part of the community out there on the harvest trail. If you missed last week’s be sure to go online under the “Media” tab and check out our first segment with him. You’ll also find other week’s podcasts under that tab on the allaboardharvest.com website… that being the same name for our Facebook page. And if you’ve missed us on Twitter, go ahead and check out @AllAboardTour for updates on postings and podcasts. Finally, we would like to thank our partners for this podcast – those being High Plains Journal, John Deere, AgriPro, Unverferth Manufacturing Company, I.T.C. and the Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children’s Ten Acre Challenge. I’m Sarah Moyer, and thank you for tuning in to this All Aboard Wheat Harvest™ podcast.