December 28, 2020 at 4:22 p.m.

A visit from Santa

Finger Family Farm provides extra incentive for working Christmas Day
Kyle Rivet (left) and Phil Finger hold up a special door prize won by Rivet at the Fingers’ 2019 employee Christmas party. The Fingers milk 500 cows and farm 2,000 acres near Peshtigo, Wisconsin. PHOTO SUBMITTED
Kyle Rivet (left) and Phil Finger hold up a special door prize won by Rivet at the Fingers’ 2019 employee Christmas party. The Fingers milk 500 cows and farm 2,000 acres near Peshtigo, Wisconsin. PHOTO SUBMITTED

By Stacey [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

    PESHTIGO, Wis. – For their employees who have to work on Christmas Day, Phil and Laura Finger like to make Dec. 25 extra special. All employees receive Christmas gifts, but those coming in that day to milk and feed cows find additional presents from Santa Claus himself who leaves gifts underneath the barn tree on Christmas Eve. A tradition that began 10 years ago, Christmas workers at Finger Family Farm love finding a Teddy Bear and candy or other stocking stuffers, like ear buds, with their name on it.
    “A lot of our employees aren’t always close to home, and some are estranged from their families,” Laura said. “Santa is such a fun part of the season, and this is a way to make Christmas feel like home for them.”
    The Fingers and their children – Alana, 19, PJ, 11, Alisa, 10, and Alivia, 7 – get chores done on Christmas with help from six of their 22 employees. The Fingers milk 500 cows and farm 2,000 acres near Peshtigo. They raise their youngstock and also have an egg route, making home deliveries of eggs produced by their layer hens. Phil is the fifth generation on his family’s farm that he and Laura run together.
    “We’re both out there farming every day, and all four of our children are involved as well,” Laura said.
    Alana attends Fox Valley Technical College and is doing an internship on a dairy farm in the Oshkosh area.
    Cows are milked three times a day at Finger Family Farm, which has a rolling herd average of 31,306 pounds of milk, 4.3% butterfat and 3.3% protein with a 70,000 somatic cell count.
    The Fingers were this year’s winner of the Wisconsin Outstanding Young Farmer award and are semi-finalists in the National Outstanding Young Farmers award program.
    “It was never our dream to win an award for farming,” Laura said. “This award isn’t strictly based on production numbers or finances, but also on the amount of growth the candidates have displayed over their farming career. For example, we aren’t the highest producing herd nor are we the most financially solvent farm around but considering that we came from a farm that was in trouble and grew to where we are made the judges take notice.”
    The Fingers like to make every day at Finger Family Farm fun and positive for their employees, especially during Christmas. In addition to individual gifts, employees also receive door prizes given out during the Fingers’ annual Christmas party.
    “We’ve been hosting this party forever, and it’s always been a really big hit,” Laura said. “We always make a meal and provide Christmas goodies. We also play darts and bag toss, and we make sure every employee walks away with a great door prize. We give out everything from gift cards to laundry detergent.”
    Last year, Phil was featured on the cover of the Genex magazine, and the Fingers raffled off an autographed copy which ended up being one of the most sought-after prizes. Candy, socks, hats, gloves, sweatshirts, jackets and more are among the selection of door prizes.  
    “Everybody comes to the party,” Laura said. “We used to have it at a restaurant or pizza place but having it on the farm seems to work the best. Everyone appears the most comfortable here.”
    This year’s Christmas party has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the Fingers are giving a gift bag to everyone they employ filled with Finger Family Farm T-shirts, sweatshirts, Christmas candy and gift cards. A Christmas tree, lighted garland and a decorated farm sign help make the dairy festive for the holidays. Employees love the visit from Santa, which is often revealed on social media as the highlight of their day.
    Creating a work environment that people enjoy coming to and treating employees like family is a year-round endeavor for the Fingers. Employee barbecues, baseball games and a homerun derby as well as McDonald’s treats on weekends are regular activities on the farm, which employs a lot of high school students. Phil has also been known to make chocolate chip cookies and pancakes for the team.
    “If employees meet certain goals and avoid making mistakes, Phil will make breakfast for everyone,” Laura said.
    Sharing the magic of the holidays with those who work for them is something the Fingers love doing. Being remembered on Christmas as part of the farm’s surprise visit from Santa has proven to be a thoughtful gesture employees never forget.


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