#1. Several batches..you will be amazed how fast they actually go. Brew alot and brew often
#2. I have heard everything from 9months-2+years for a shelf life. Most of my beers start to decline past there prime in about 6months for my lighter beers. The stout I did as my very first batch in October 07 is still wonderfull, although now down to (2) 12oz bottles. Everything I have seen is that if you leave a beer in secondary it cant hurt it, I have gone as long as 4 months with a mead that is still in secondary.