Like all landowners and land managers, Ford & Etal Estates have a duty to keep vermin under control. Particular attention must be paid to controlling species that are non-native (such as Grey Squirrels, Signal Crayfish and Himalayan Balsam) or which can damage agricultural crops, such as Rabbits and Woodpigeons. Carrion Crows are also actively controlled.
Ford & Etal welcomes many visitors from across the UK and Europe in the winter months to shoot game, in particular pheasant and deer. Please refer to the website of Hetton Shoot for further details of such opportunities and for contacts.
The river is a major feature of Ford & Etal and much conservation work is needed to preserve and enhance its environment for the benefit of fish stocks, otters and other river life. The River Till has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
To counteract the effects of erosion and help stabilise the riverbank, willow sapling are planted on more vulnerable areas and stone ‘croys’ are constructed in strategic places to establish a better environment for river life. These help to create deeper pools and faster flowing waters which flush silt from the riverbed making a better breeding area for the minute creatures that the fish feed on.
Staff of the Grounds Department are responsible for looking after the appearance of the villages, other public places and the private gardens of Ford Castle and Etal Manor, giving them work to do all year round. Their duties include tending the formal gardens, trimming hedges, controlling weeds and mowing the large area of grass and verges in Ford & Etal.
Modern technology has affected gardening and grounds maintenance, just as it has affected farming. In former times up to 20 people were employed on the estate for this purpose, at a time when not just Ford Castle or Etal Manor but also larger farmhouses had garden staff. Nowadays there are just five people employed in maintaining the grass and grounds