Lizzy Petersen: Disfarm

disfarm (dɪsˈfɑrm) v. –farm·ed, –farm·ing, –farms. —tr. 1. To slaughter before raised to full-auction. For example: It’s too bad he was disfarmed 17 years before folks would see anything partial in his pictures. 2. a. To pull out by the root. Such as: He believed the tornado disfarmed him when he was a baby, tossed him on a lineage far too small to warry of, his shoes still in Indiana and covered in mud. 2 b. To dig out, as in a foundation. For example: People here were first disfarmed by drought, then disfarmed by the bank, and those who stayed, disfarmed by doubt. 3. To leave behind profits from an investment. Such as: He departed without a claim on anything – studio repossessed, manhandled, divvied up, sold off for parts, the remainder in a storage unit for a decade or so. Or: I’ll disfarm the place if I have to – they can take it. —intr. 1. To overgrow and ruin, fall into disrepair. Syn.: Mangy with clover, crabgrass, sorrel, overrun with vermin, junebugs, and children always playing games of bravery in the ditches. For example: His glass plate negatives disfarmed over time, some faces smudged up or scratched, others rubbed off. 2. To waste, without tilling or sowing or planting or weeding, so land isn’t worth a dime and exactly what you paid for it. For example: His gravestone disfarmed for so long it can’t mean much to many anymore. 3. To end, as in a lease of labor, what once was a handshake deal, a back-when thing and hardly more than good faith, is now what – limp is what. Such as: Let’s disfarm and leave it at that, not speak of him again.

* This piece is from a larger manuscript on the photography and life of Arkansas, penny-portrait photographer Mike Disfarmer (1884-1959). 


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