A sustainable life: With little support, couple makes their range unit eco-friendly
MONSISCO MESA, N.M.
Ernest Diswood delights in the little tufts of grass almost as much as his cattle do.
Needle-and-thread, Indian rice grass, blue gramma, galleta, atriplex … he can name them all and more, and more likely than not also knows the scientific and Navajo names.
The exciting thing is, more and more species are appearing on Ernest and Edwina Diswood’s 2,300-acre range management unit on top of Monsisco Mesa, named after Old Man Monsisco, Edwina’s great-grandfather.
“The more diversity you have, it’s a sign of a healthy range,” explained Ernest.
The Diswoods are practicing sustainability. They are the kind of small-scale farmers all the politicians claim to support — but in the eight years they’ve run this RMU (Edwina inherited it from her grandmother) they say they’ve never gotten any assistance from the tribe.
It took them seven years of asking before the BIA even gave them a roll of fence wire.
“The Navajo Nation has never come out here and said, ‘We’ll teach you how to feed, we’ll teach you how to vaccinate,’” said Ernest. “It’s kind of a sad indication — we could not get any assistance from on the reservation. We had more assistance from the nonprofits off the reservation.”