As we bought a new JCB loader last year, I was given one of their normally nice calendars but the picture for May is so downright awful, I flipped it over into June.

You’d imagine it would be a bright cheery picture for the magical month of May with a JCB doing seasonal work but it’s not.

It’s a JCB Agri Super Loadall bedding indoor pigs with a straw blower possibly in China or somewhere like that. It can’t be Ireland because we’ve no straw.

It’s grim and could be November at night. But June’s picture is grand – it’s a JCB 4000 Fastrac iCon spraying a sh*te crop of spring barley. I can relate to that.

The Fendt calendar’s May picture is hugely better. It’s a Fendt Rogator 600 self-propelled sprayer being driven on a country road lined with blooming mayflower.

Now we’re talking. I’d say it’s in Germany – if not, it’s in Lusk and he’s on the wrong side of the road.

But doesn’t Fingal County Council do silly anti-farmer things with the roads up there? Like installing traffic islands that bar combines? It’s probably a new bye law in the north county decreeing big self-propelled sprayers must drive on the wrong side.

However, back to the aforementioned JCB TM 320 we bought last year.

I didn’t like its predecessor, a 2012 JCB TM 310, so was apprehensive about buying the same again, albeit the new model. The old model’s transmission was as rough as a Soviet tank with clunks and headbanging changes between the gears, only surpassed by a Case MX 150 I had years ago.

The dash was impossible to see. I was delighted to see her go but it was reliable.

I’d stick with JCB for better or for worse as the service was first class, despite the fact there are probably equally good machines in other makes as well.

The new JCB arrived last August. Yawning and unexcited, I climbed into the cab. But the change was immediately apparent and I take my hat off to the JCB engineers.

Boy, it’s a complete transformation and they’ve sorted the transmission. It’s silky smooth and would not be out of place in a BMW and it’s nippy, with more poke than the Austin-Healey Sprite.

The wheat has had its T2 fungicide but the crops range from average to awful

It’s a much superior machine to its predecessor with nicely laid out controls. The optional reversing fan is brilliant and the reversing camera screen has better content than RTÉ. Even though our JCB TM320 is not the more powerful S model, it’s well able to tow a loaded bale trailer.

Yes, the headstock is a faff but, that aside, we love it and I’m awarding it a 10.

In the fields

I’m uncomfortable spraying insecticides because of what they do to beneficials (like beetles and ladybirds) and now seldom use them. But the risk of barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) infection is very high with late-sown barley and so I have sprayed an insecticide at the three-leaf stage.

Herbicides and a fungicide will follow shortly.

The wheat has had its T2 fungicide but the crops range from average to awful and the gate is probably closed at this stage.

The beans have established nicely but we need a super growing season to keep them (and the cuckoo corn) moving and to make up a bit of lost time. I’m relieved to see grain prices going – albeit very slowly – in the right direction.

Maybe we’ve turned a corner and hopefully we’ll be back ploughing up the fields which have been relegated to grass or forage crops (and indeed potatoes) this spring.

All of which will provide the perfect intro for winter wheat and, maybe, a return to normality.