A schafer was a shepherd. At this time a schafer might work for the entire village taking care of the village's animals. Usually this job was considered the lowest job in terms of prestige but it was certainly more relaxing the farming. It was also suitable for an older man or a handicapped man.

Here is some additional information on Schafers from the Pommern-L mailing list



A Schäfer was a shepherd, and Schäferknecht was a shepherd's helper or apprentice, and the Schäfermeister a master shepherd, one who was at the top of his profession. It was an earned title.

In the 1800s raising sheep, along with potatoes, was the number one rural profession in what is now northern Poland and so many of our ancestors were shepherds. Soil was poor and sheep could survive where cattle couldn't. About the turn of the century the sheep industry in this area dwindled, I'm not sure why. There is a lot of reading material available.

There were two kinds of shepherds. One was an employee of the estate owner and worked for wages and a small plot of ground and house. One was kind of an "independent contractor" who cared for sheep for several different people for fees. Sometimes they could accumulate a lot of money and were highly respected. They had a lot of work to do with vaccinating, birthing, shearing, keeping the books etc. etc. (Kind of like the sheep men of Australia)

It was an honorable profession (although a lot of jokes were made) and shepherds had their own way of dress, dances and music, and festivals every year. Every picture I have seen of one he is wearing a wrinkled suit, shirt with tie, hat and he has a shepherd's cane and the ever-present dog or dogs. And they were known as "country philosophers" with a lot of quite good witty sayings and stories.