After many years of sharing our home with things that go squeak in the night, we’ve finally decided to evict the trespassers.

Who exactly has been living in the walls and between the floors of our 1820 farmhouse has been a source of ongoing speculation since we bought the place in 2000.

Initially, we were sure it was just a field mouse or two, looking for a place to stay warm in the winter months. Since we always kept a cat around, we rarely caught a glimpse in the living quarters, and decided we could live with that.

Eventually the pitter-patter of tiny paws evolved into scurrying and scratching. Squirrels? Perhaps. Chipmunks? Also possible, we decided.

But now, it sounds like a steeplechase at times, with critters of some sort cavorting and squeaking. They seem to be having a grand old time, and we’ve finally decided the party is over. We’re going to meet the freeloaders and send them packing.

About a week ago I was awakened in the usual way. First, I assumed it was the cat scratching my favorite upholstered chair. She likes to do this when her breakfast is overdue. Then I realized no, the sound was closer. Much closer. I concluded, eyes still closed, that it must be the dog either licking her fur, scratching an ear or chewing her paws, which she has a habit of doing. Wrong again.

As the fog of sleep faded and I became more aware, I realized the sound actually was above my head. It was in the wall directly behind the headboard. Some type of animal was in the wall. I sat up, stared and listened. I imagined I had x-ray vision and could see into the space behind the sheetrock. There, I visualized a family of red squirrels. They were busily chewing through the electrical wires, just waiting to spark a fire that would burn my house down.

Forever my father’s daughter, I quickly assessed what would happen if a fire started there. I had no doubt my husband and I would run to our daughter’s room, which is in the opposite direction of the only exit. We would rouse her from sleep and try to get back to the stairs, which surely would be inaccessible by that time. At that point, we’d have to jump out of a second-story window.

What a lovely way to wake up on a Sunday morning.

Already grumpy, I descended the stairs and found my family in the kitchen.

“It’s time to call the critter getter,” I announced, pouring a cup of coffee. My husband looked skeptical, knowing we have had this conversation many times. I assured him this time was different. I meant business.

“I have no problem with it,” he said, then added, “But you know they aren’t going to catch and release them.”

With the fire scenario still fresh in my mind, I assured him I was ready to do what had to be done. It was us or them. We had to eliminate this nuisance.

In no time at all he had a company on the phone and an appointment set for the following Saturday. The pest elimination company would do a complete walkthrough and inspection of our home. Once they knew what we were living with, they would set up stations with a buffet for our little guests. In time, they would be eliminated.

As my husband talked, I started to lose my resolve. They lost me at the buffet. It killed me to think of killing them. And what about our pets and other wildlife? What if they ate a poisoned rodent? Would they die too? The company had assured him it was unlikely, and that they had never had a confirmed case of that happening in 30 years.

We quickly signed a contract before I could change my mind again. It seemed to be the only option we had left.

Over the years, we tried eliminating our bird feeders and buttoning the house up in every way possible. The entire place has been insulated and sided with new shingles, and the cellar spray foamed to eliminate gaps, but still we have intruders. We have tried Hav-a-Heart traps of every size and style, with no luck. My husband has caught dozens of mice in our barn using a bucket, and released them back into the wild (or so he says). There was no impact on the population at all. All of our cats have done their job to the best of their ability. Still, the little squeakers are undeterred.

So we’re calling in the big guns. I’m dreading some aspects of what’s to come, but must admit I’m curious to know what’s been dwelling in our house for all these years. Could it be a raccoon? I asked my husband one night, when the scurrying footsteps seemed especially heavy. He laughed and said no way. At this point, nothing would surprise me.

As I read over the contract, I was surprised to see the many types of pests the inspection might uncover. It goes well beyond your garden variety field mouse and squirrel. I hadn’t even considered what insects might be in the house and barn, and this guy is going to check for everything.

In addition to rodents, the pest assassins deal with bats, bees, wasps and other insects. The list includes many I hadn’t even heard of, which have sent my imagination running wild. They include: crazy ants, pill bugs, firebrats, jumping spiders, sac spiders, springtails, sow bugs, mud daubers, cigarette beetles and confused flour beetles.

It took all of my resolve not to Google a few of those, but to be honest, I already have enough to worry about without looking for more trouble and nightmare fuel.

So until Saturday, we’re placing our bets on what turns up in the walls and between the floors. Whatever they find, I’m confident the small game hunters will take care of the problem. They assured us that with ongoing maintenance, we should be able to sleep without hearing things go squeak in the night. We shall see.

And the beat goes on.