I'm from the central UP, on the Wisconsin border. I love it here!
I suggest going to gotmead.com to give more you more complete information than I'm providing here. I'm no mead expert so I would defer to the experts. Still, it's very much like wine making and I've got a good grasp on that!
Ok, let's see:
1. Yes, oxygen is good to get fermentation going.
Aeration: (from gotmead.com)
To avoid stressing the yeast during their growth phase, it is important to provide them with the oxygen they need. Aerate the Must a couple of times a day for the first three days by using an aeration stone, shaking, or stirring with a Lees stirrer. Make sure you sanitize whatever equipment you are going to use before putting it into the Must. Aerate for 2 to 5 minutes depending on the method, and then cover the Must again. WARNING - There will be CO2 dissolved in the solution that will begin to bubble out when you begin to aerate the must. This can sometimes result in a geyser effect that could spray your walls and ceiling, and will result in the loss of some of the must. To avoid this, gently agitate the liquid to expel the CO2 before you begin to add the oxygen. This is particularly important if you are using the shaking method.
2. After primary fermentation, all wine and beer and mead should be very quietly racked and protected from oxygen. The amount of co2 coming out of the fermenter is no longer enough to protect it.
3. Yes, close up the primary tightly (with an airlock) for beer. Still, you aerate beer like mad before pitching the yeast because it needs it. But then keep it airlocked.
4. See above. I have a fish tank aerator that I run before I pitch the yeast. This is more crucial for full boils or AG because you boil off all the oxygen in the water. If you're using bottled water that hasn't been boiled to top off, this is not as important.
5. You need an airlock or blow off tube so that your container doesn't explode. The airlock allows the co2 to leave without allowing in oxygen or bugs. The way my grandpa did it was with an uninflated ballon with a pinhole it in. Most of the time it worked, occasionally he made vinegar.
A great place for winemaking is here: http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/basics.asp
And for beer: howtobrew.com.