Sunday, May 21, 2017

Valley Shepherd Creamery Tours: Spring Lambing Tour and More!

There are so many fun things to do in New Jersey. Today we had a chance to visit Valley Shepherd Creamery in Long Valley, New Jersey. Not only were we able to learn how cheese is made, but we were also able to meet the cheesemakers, and hold newborn lambs!!!  Need I say more? So come along and see what it's like to visit this fabulous local creamery, and then schedule a visit of your own.


So here's my usual disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post. Valley Shepherd did not even know I was coming to visit. But even if they did, you know I would never recommend something to you that I didn't totally love myself, right? And this post might be lengthy, but it's designed for easy reading, with bold headlines and clear photos, so you can easily scroll to find what you're looking for. 


What is Valley Shepherd Creamery?

Valley Shepherd is a real, live creamery right here in New Jersey! Located in Long Valley on 120 acres, they take great pride in educating the public about the art of cheese making and sheep farming. They create over thirty styles of artisan cheeses, butter and yogurt. They raise sheep, goats, and even cows (although the cows are not kept on this property). 


Where is Valley Shepherd Creamery Located?

Valley Shepherd Creamery is located in beautiful Long Valley, New Jersey (Morris County). They are only about an hour outside of New York City. You can find their cheese in New York and other special places, too. Check their website for more details about that.


What Can I Do at Valley Shepherd Creamery?

The Sheep Shoppe is open year round, so if you want to stop in for some cheese or other goodies, you can swing by during their shop hours. If you want to take a tour, they offer different kinds of tours seasonally:

-Spring Lambing Tours
-Spring Shearing Tours
-Summer Tours
-Fall Harvest Tours (you get to visit their cheese aging cave for this one!)

They also offer private group tours and school tours. You can take cheese making classes if you're feeling really adventurous (isn't that an awesome gift idea for someone, too?).

There are other animals to see, too, like horses, alpaca and goats.


They also say that if you visit for a tour, you can bring a lunch or even wine to enjoy on their porch or picnic tables. We enjoyed trying their yummy gelato after our tour!


We had vanilla, but I tried a sample of their Ferraro Roche, and that was yummy, too! Friends with allergies- just be aware that there are nuts listed in the ingredients (even in the vanilla).


About the Valley Shepherd Creamery Spring Lamb Tour

The Spring Lambing Tour is held weekends in May and June (but check with Valley Shepherd just to be sure of dates/times/availability). They typically have two tours a day on the weekends, at 1:00 and 3:00.  As of the publication date of this entry, tickets were $8.75 for adults, $7.00 for children 2-12, and children under 2 were free (but always check their website for accurate ticket prices).

We attended a Saturday (1:00pm) tour in May. Now, I'm not going to show you every single piece of the tour, because that would be a total spoiler and no fun at all. But I will tell you in a nutshell what to expect, and show you some of my fun photos of our visit.

We arrived 30 minutes before our tour to purchase tickets and explore the Sheep Shoppe. Our tour started with a 15 minute DVD about the cheese making and shearing process, and a little about Valley Shepherd's history. 


Then our tour guide, Rachel, showed us some of the machinery and tools (through viewing windows) used to make cheese and obtain milk from their sheep. It was fun to look through the windows and see the rooms where the magic happens!


After seeing the creamery, we were able to sample some of their amazing cheeses! I can't say enough good things about the taste of these. Try all of them if you can, and remember what you ate, because I'm telling you, you're going to want to buy some to take home!! And that's just my honest advice to you. No one on the tour pressured us to buy anything. 


After our sampling, Aldo arrived to tell us about the lambs and bring us to see them. Most of the tour is inside, except for this part of it when we had to walk from the Sheep Shoppe to the lambs. It's not treacherous terrain or anything, but I recommend good shoes (and not flip flops! Ugh!). Watch out for poopy piles when you go to see those lambies, too.


Aldo handed each of us a lamb, and they were like soft, puffy clouds! I was a little nervous about holding them, but they weren't squiggly at all and seemed used to being held. They were even gentle with the kids on our tour. The lambs were just the sweetest, cutest things I had ever seen. Aldo even let some of them wander around, and they followed him lovingly, too. You could tell they were well taken care of. Look how this one was cuddling up to Aldo below! Maybe it was the beard?




Don't I look happy? I mean, really, how could I not be?


We also got to see some pretty goats that were grazing near the lambs. 


Aldo answered all of our questions and let us stay with the lambs as long as we wanted. Then we walked back up to the Sheep Shoppe. The whole tour probably lasted about an hour and a half.

What Age are Tours Good For?

All ages are welcome, but think about what your kids enjoy and if they can sit through a 15 minute movie and tour first! Do they like cheese? Do they like animals? Can they listen to a tour guide and behave around animals? Then this tour is for you!  We were personally with children that ranged in age from 8-10 and they all enjoyed it. There were some other children in our tour group, probably between the ages of 4-6, and they seemed to enjoy it (especially the lambs!).


The Sheep Shoppe

I loved The Sheep Shoppe! Open year round, The Sheep Shoppe has just about everything you can think of- cheese (LOTS of cheese!), butter, yogurt, sheep skin, meat, gelato, soaps, candles, pottery, honey, stuffed animals and more! Everyone working there was friendly and helpful.



Jersey Momma Tips

-I totally loved this tour and plan on going back to attend more. I also plan on returning again for more of their amazing cheese.

-wear comfy shoes for walking (you don;t have far to walk, but it's still an area with rocks and dirt, and you are around animals, so expect some poop here and there)

-bring a cooler in the car! This is great for leftover gelato or cheeses that you want to bring home.

-bring a picnic or even some wine to enjoy on the porch

-if you head further down the road, you can even enjoy a yummy meal at Long Valley Pub and Brewery

-check Valley Shepherd's Facebook page or website for their upcoming events and dinners. They always seem to be planning something fun!

-they do provide hand sanitizer but you might want to bring your own wet wipes, especially if you're staying for something to eat

And on a side note, one of my favorite books when I was a little girl was The Little Lamb. I used to read it over and over again, and I remember being jealous of the girl in the story because she was able to hold and care for a little lamb (who she named Timothy). I didn't think much about it when we went on our tour, but as soon as the lamb was placed in my arms, it flashed back to me. Needless to say, I went to bed a little happier last night, knowing I held a newborn lamb, and finally, after all these years, I was the girl in the story!


Plan a visit for yourself!

Valley Shepherd Creamery
50 Fairmount Rd.
Long Valley, NJ 07853
908-876-3200
Visit their website: www.valleyshepherd.com
or find them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram

And here are some of my favorite sheep picks from Amazon (affiliate link below):






1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness! It looks like so much fun! I don't think Long Valley is all that far from where I am in NJ! I am going to have to put this on my summer bucket list for sure!

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