Flood away, and welcome! @cmkolb2
Eight ducklings, early November, northern Illinois. Please catch me up on your plans for the winter.
Meanwhile, I'll share my thoughts. I am a helicopter duck mom. Just so you know.
We have 0.8 acres, about half of which is wooded. The ducks have their "barn" in our walkout basement. They have a day pen in the front yard. In the morning, we let them out of their night pen, or barn, and take them for a little walk, usually through the woods on our place. We then walk them to an enclosed garden area adjacent to the day pen. If I have the time, I'll putter around the yard while they're in their garden area (this is the duck garden - grape vines, kiwi, vinca, hazelnut bushes. No annuals.). If not, I'll close them into the day pen. It is covered in fence, top, bottom and sides, has two concrete mixing pans on pea gravel, and a nice mulchy-composty bedding in the rest of the pen. Actually I have the pen split because we run two flocks, so the Buffs have their own day pen, with one concrete mixing pan on gravel, etc.
When I am not around, they are in the day pen. Because our daylight predators include hawks, cats, dogs, and from others' experience, even foxes and coyotes. At night, we can expect owls, fishers, foxes, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, dogs, cats.
So in the evening, we walk them back into their night pen. The basement pen doesn't work for most people, but it really has some advantages for me. I don't have to shovel three feet of snow to feed the ducks or check on them, I can hear if there is a big problem, I can easily top up their food and water if I need to delay getting them outside, and I have a large enough space in our unheated walkout basement that remains above 40F that when we have a solid week of well-below-freezing weather in winter, or a really stormy day, they have plenty of room to move around and avoid getting stir-crazy.
Water management is key. Once you figure out how to keep the bedding mostly dry, life just seems so much better.
Edited by Amiga - 10/12/15 at 6:06pm