When I saw this in my mom's backyard, I immediately had thoughts to harvest them all.
I was going to make prickly pear lemonade, prickly pear syrup, maybe even prickly pear jam.
I decided to see first if the prickly pears were ripe, and then read up on how to prepare them. This seemed like an OK idea at the time, however I would now suggest to anyone in a similar situation to read up on prickly pears before embarking on such an exploratory expedition.
I went out the backyard, found a promising looking pear, found a spot to grab at it without encountering the large spikes, and picked it. So far so good. I brought it into the house and sliced it in half.It was seedier and an more orange than I thought it would be, so before digging in with a spoon, I decided to sit down at the computer and look up more about prickly pears. This is when I noticed that someone had stuck daggers into my fingers when I wasn't looking.
It turns out prickly pears have, in addition to the large spikes, have tiny-hair-like spikes as well. They are nearly invisible, but are extremely painful. These are insidious little things that attach themselves to everything (I was attacked by one 3 days after this initial picking.) Apparently you are meant to remove all of the outside spine, which can be done by rolling them in sand, before doing anything, and certainly before bringing them into your home.
So, after spending more than a little time picking spikes out with a tweezer, injuring my mother, and contemplating what one of these spikes would do to my digestive track, I have lost my nerve. The prickly pear harvest will have to wait for another time.