I’m pleased with how the crops look at the present time. Even the much maligned winter barley has filled out well with the May rain. It’s starting to turn but it’s tall – much too tall. Wheat is looking especially well with great potential, but with that said, the next couple of weeks are critical. Fine, but not necessarily warm, weather for flowering is highly desirable and, conversely, prolonged wet weather during flowering is always a fusarium disaster.

I sprayed the oats on Monday afternoon and I’ve seldom seen our oats look as good. Both tall and thick - will they remain standing? All I can tell you is that when the boom dived into the crop, on a rough headland, they sprung back up very indignantly. But oats (and beans) are like oilseed rape, you know nothing until you hit them with the combine. The beans are in flower creating bee heaven.

One field of spring rape which was drilled following a cover crop is patchy with perhaps only 70% establishment, leaving plenty of opportunity for weeds to colonise. I blame the oats cover crop whereas two ploughed fields are better.

Still, much as I would like to, at today’s stellar prices, I won’t be forward selling any rape for this harvest. We’ve a fair portion of the wheat forward sold at good money, as we do the winter barley.

However, the onset of harvest is still five or six weeks off and a lot could happen in that time to take the gloss off the crops. Lodging is perhaps the greatest threat followed by fusarium. But so far, so good and there’s certainly potential unlike last year.

Our financial year end is April 30 and I’ve been perusing the books. Harvest 2020 was plain bad, by far the worst in a long time. Without the subsidies, we’d have lost money.

If it can go wrong...

It should have been a simple task, but it quickly escalated. I had changed the combine over the winter and the replacement (2017 Claas 670TT) was driven into the shed with the header trailer behind it. I’d have to reverse it out as we wanted the shed for baled silage.

The big Merc engine fired up first time but the instrument panel went into overdrive with warnings and bleeps. Stupid stuff like the EGR valve not working. Not good. I’d have to get unto LFM in Duleek. Can’t have that doing my head in at the winter barley, good and all as it might be.

Anyhow, now swearing quietly, I took the header trailer off the combine and hopped up on the classic Fendt (816), to hitch it up. But it wouldn’t start, flat as a pancake, despite new batteries last March. Classic, my arse.

Same story with my favourite Fendt (718) – also flat. The third and newest Fendt (724) started (phew) but could you believe it, an error code immediately flashed up. More bloody bleeping, which drives me nuts. Not good. I’d have to get into Paddy in Birr.

Anyhow, now swearing loudly, I walked to get the Defender to jump the 718. Despite having driven it an hour earlier it had, in the meantime, acquired not one but two flat tyres.

Eventually, I got the favourite Fendt started, but then its shaggin’ rear linkage wouldn’t work. Turned out, I’d blown a fuse with the jump leads. By now, I’d missed the essential 10 o’clock coffee. Never good. The moral of this little story? Good job the crops are looking well or it would have been a dull piece.

Maybe I should consider switching machinery brands – or has too much technology fecked them all?