I know I have been way behind on posts recently. I've been busy working in the yard, helping my Mother-in-law and watching the olympics. The yard is coming along, we've gotten half the black plastic up, maybe a little more. There were so many layers of it and it's been there for more than 15 years, so the soil is the crappiest it could be. I've been digging holes in the ground and dumping in my compostables in hopes of improving soil quality, maybe bribing a worm or two to take up residence. We've had a string of fantastic monsoons that have knocked down trees, which is usually bad, but the upside is that one storm knocked several pads off a neighbors good-fruiting prickly pear. They said I could have them, so that will be about 6 or more free prickly pears for the native front yard.
On the subject of prickly pears, I read about a great way to get the juice out without getting poked to death with all those tiny tiny spikes. (You may as well take a bath in fiberglass with a few bees mixed in for good measure) Someone on the Phoenix Permaculture site gave me the idea to first freeze the fruits, the freezing causes expansion and the juicy cells bust open, and then thaw them in a strainer. I put a paper towel inside a sieve to act like a filter and rested the sieve on a bowl. After a couple of hours there was juice in the bowl, then I mashed open the fruits with a fork and the rest of the juice came out. All juice no tiny spikes. I'm sorry I didn't think to take pictures.
The ducklings are just shy of a month old and are in the mobile coop which has been placed in the chicken pen. They're doing well, they're very cute and love pieces of grape. The new chicks get here in a month, so I'm working to get everything ready for that too!