I felt a little like Noah. When the biblical rain ceased after months on end, he sent out the dove a few times. Eventually the bird returned with leaves in his beak and he knew there was some dry land out there and the floods were receding.

In the middle of last week, in a twenty first century re-enactment, I couldn’t find a bird to send out so I drove straight into a stubble field with the Land Rover.

I might as well have driven into a paddy field. Yes, the field had been spread with slurry but the pools hadn’t gone and it was a swamp. In a shower of flying mud, I spun my way out of the field.

Undeterred, I drove into a drier field which was cultivated last autumn. This was much better, and Noah’s dove would have found green leaves (if they hadn’t been sprayed with Roundup). It could even be dry enough in a couple of days to till for beans. Maybe.

Yes, nobody likes sowing beans this late but what do you do? To scrap the beans would mean less wheat next year.

However, if it’s not a favourable summer and the beans don’t ripen until Halloween and yield a tonne of beans and a tonne of soil per acre, then I’ll regret planting them.

But the protein payment is an incentive (I also welcome the minister’s proposed payment of €100/ha for cereal crops).

With that said, we’ll see how it goes, but will probably end up with a reduced bean area and default to spring barley.

Time is almost up for that crop as well, and seed still in the bag by May Day will stay there.

But better late than never? No, I don’t think so – I’ll switch to plan C. And there’s an 18ha wheat field that’s so patchy, I had planned to resow with spring barley.

That’s no longer a realistic option. I’ll have to make do with the wheat that’s there, which totals barely 8ha.

We might get 70t off the entire field (it’s often 200), but that’s better than ploughing and resowing with spring barley that ends up a foot high with neither straw nor grain.

However, it’s no longer about this crop year. I’m writing it off as a disaster and it’s now about getting back on track for next year’s cropping, beginning in the autumn.

Tree planting

Work on the winter crops is now up to date, but it’s a very demoralising drive with the sprayer splashing up and down the deplorable tramlines in these patchy crops.

At least this means Man Friday – Jason – and I can get on with the tilling and sowing if the weather cooperates. But we’ve remained productive and busy throughout the dormant months of field inactivity between digger work and fencing and many, many other tasks.

With the grant-aided forestry excepted, I don’t think I’ve ever planted as many trees and hedges over the winter period as this year.

Wild garden

To this end I’ve taken a portion of a field, a pleasant walk from the house, to develop into what we’ll call a wild garden with loads of trees and another pond.

It’s inspired by the great (tree) gardens like Coolcarrigan in Kildare and Tullynally in Westmeath, only on a lesser scale. But give me another 20 years…

This project is giving me a huge amount of pleasure. I’ll never be remembered for a field of cattle or wheat – these are transient things – but I do hope, in a time to come, I may be remembered by my trees. They also help me to forget the messy business of this awful spring.