The sun is setting on a small West Texas town as Brooke Klatt, with her infant daughter Emma laying quietly in the fold of her right arm, waits patiently for her husband to return home after more than 24 hours at work.
Nathan Klatt, the missing member of the small family, walked through the utility room door toward his anxious family, dirt caked in the creases on his face and cotton debris intertwined in his thick brown hair from an evening of harvest.
A smile lit up the face of Brooke Klatt, while the bouncing child in her lap reached for her father.
Nathan Klatt took his daughter, lifted her first straight up in the air then brought her down into a tight hug. As he sat down, and stood the baby up on his knees, he said his family always comes first.
“My family is the biggest part of my life,” Nathan Klatt said, looking from his daughter to his wife. “Work will always come second.”
Serving as a Lubbock firefighter, farmer in Hale County, and full-time father and husband, Nathan Klatt stays very busy but somehow balances all of it.
“I’m doing what I always knew I wanted to,” Nathan Klatt said.
Nathan Klatt has been farming most of his life. He helped his father on the farm from the time he was old enough to drive a tractor, and now farms more than 1,000 acres of his own land.
“Farming is in my blood,” Nathan Klatt said, “You grow up doing it, enjoy it, and that’s where I ended up.”
Firefighting is something Nathan Klatt has always been drawn toward.
“I always wanted to be a fireman,” Nathan Klatt said, “It’s something I have looked forward to since I was in high school.”
After serving as a firefighter for a little more than five years, in 2009, Nathan Klatt was named the Lubbock Firefighter of the Year. He is now a member of the Firefighter Combat Challenge relay team, which has placed in the top five in numerous competitions across the United States.
Nick Wilson, Nathan Klatt’s Lieutenant, has worked with Nathan Klatt since Nathan Klatt started at the Lubbock Fire Department five years ago.
“Nathan’s a great firefighter because he’s always on top of things,” Wilson said. “He’s the kind of guy that everybody looks up to.”
Nathan Klatt began accomplishing his dreams of becoming a firefighter and a farmer while at Texas Tech University.
“Tech really helped me gain the knowledge and skills I needed to balance my life,” Nathan Klatt said, “The agronomy (major) was great; they taught me different angles to approach farming and how to keep up with the changing times, which has made me a better farmer.”
Using the knowledge he gained from Texas Tech, Nathan Klatt said the way he farms is more efficient and allows him to spend more time with his family. He said it also makes it easier to manage his farms, while working for the fire department.
“Tech provided me the knowledge to be successful at what I do,” Nathan said. “Now I’m doing what I love and I love what I do.”
Working in two hazardous jobs, Nathan Klatt said he uses a lot of the same skills as a fireman and as a farmer.
“Safety is huge,” Nathan Klatt said.
“Being a fireman requires a lot of safety skills to make sure you are operating the equipment correctly and getting the job done without having to repeat a duty because it wasn’t done right the first time,” Nathan Klatt said, “Farming works the same way. We check all the equipment before we use it just like we do before we head out on a call.”
He said both of his jobs require hands-on work.
“Neither of my jobs are easy,” Nathan Klatt said. “You can’t just float through either of them. They take time and concentration.”
Nathan Klatt said sometimes having both jobs is a little stressful but he has to set aside time with his family and not become so obsessed with work.
“My whole life I have been taught to be a hard worker,” Nathan Klatt said. “Sometimes it’s hard for me to realize I don’t always have to be working.”
Nathan Klatt said he loves his family and regardless of what is happening at work, he always makes sure they know they come first in his life.
“Nothing in the world means more to me than my family,” Nathan Klatt said. “I always practice safety on the farm and at the station to make sure I come home to them every night.”
Brooke Klatt, Nathan’s wife, said she has no clue how he balances everything he does in life, but he does it well. She said Nathan Klatt always finds time to play with Emma Klatt. She also said one of the family’s most valued times is when she and Emma go ride with Nathan in a tractor while he completes his farm work.
“I don’t know how he balances everything,” Brooke Klatt said, “But he does, and he couldn’t do it better. I wouldn’t change our life for anything, it truly is perfect.”