We are pulling the county field from the geocode record onto the parent record, but sometimes it returns the word county and sometimes it doesn't. How can that be consistent?

Ah, yes. Sometimes the geocoder returns the word 'county' and sometimes it doesn't; we just return whatever they send back to us. If you're using a formula field to pull the value in, you can trick it. Here's an example I came up with to get it to not display the word County: 

TRIM(SUBSTITUTE(geopointe__Geocode__r.geopointe__County_clean__c, "County", null))

This is checking to see if the field includes the county. If it does, it's replacing the word with null and trimming out all spaces. If it's not there, it just returns the value as is.