First off: thanks for all the feedback so far!!
We actually have an area for the goats and a milking station...just needs to be built yet. All in good time. I figure that will give me something to do this winter since the garden will be resting. Such is the life of a homesteader..we don't know what rest is. Tee Hee. Much rather be doing this then working a 9-5 in a stuffy building with people I really don't care to be around. Animals are much easier to deal with then people sometimes. :)
I've also been reading as much information as I can get my hands on about raising goats. Read the great book: Living With Goats by Margaret Hathaway. And I found it very helpful in answering those basic questions and even some more extensive ones. One thing I loved that she wrote was that it's one thing to read and do all the research but it's another COMPLETELY different thing once you actually acquire them and start raising them yourself.
I too have read that it's best to get at least two. Well I wouldn't want to be alone in a barn either..hehe. Our future goal is to have a heard of at least 3-5. So far we've planned on 2 females so start that way we can start getting milk right away. But like Margaret did in her book, we're bound to keep our first kid even if it's male. Being a 26 year old, single female, I've often told my family I'd probably have a kid long before I had a marriage. I didn't specify the species. Mine as well be a goat kid!!!! :)
And with the goal of being completely self-sustaining someday the goats will not only be used for their milk, but the products made from the milk and the meat. From actual dairy products to soap. Another part about Margaret's book was that she actually put in a whole chapter on the meat topic. Which is another reason why I'm already sold on keeping our first kid, cause I just couldn't imagine eating it. :s But I know with the chance that more then one kid can be born, we've had to think of plans on what to do with them. And I loved that she put in there the way to "bless" the meat before slaughter. I believe (don't quote me, just cause it's been a few months since I've read it) it's a muslim blessing. Giving it back to the world and being thankful for it giving it's life to sustain ours. Because I do live by the philosophy that everything has a right to live. Ew even spiders! I've killed a lot less of them since I really started believing that way but it makes a lot more sense. However, when I do take a life I say my apologies to the creature and God, whether it be a spider or any other creepy crawly thing that makes it into my personal space.
Again my biggest concern with getting goats is none of that. I know it'll be a LOT of hard work and preparation at the farm to get them, and am excited to get started. But what am I to do in the winter?? The farm I work at is about 20 miles from my house, which sure doesn't seem that far, but in the rigid wisconsin winters can be BRUTAL!! And if a sudden blizzard snows me into my house (like it did a couple times last year) I will still need to take care of the goats daily. I can't just NOT milk them or feed them because I can't get to the farm. Especially when kidding time comes around. I've really been determined so far in my thinking that I'd really like to get Alpines. They just are the cutest, and most entertaining looking of all the breeds. And the fact that I'm only suppling for myself and my mentor right now we don't really need big producers such as Nubians. Besides I'm not a big fan of the droopy ears. They just look so sad all the time. I like the jolly, troublesome feel I get from the Alpines. Kinda sick if you think about it. Hehe. But like I stated in the beginning of the discussion I've been doing more thinking about miniature goats just for their size. Not that it would make any difference if I can't move them to my house in town during the winter. :(
Your goats are still going to need to be grained daily in the winter time. And what about water? If you are house-bound for a couple days, what happens if the tank heater dies or the electric goes out at the same time and they have no water during that time? They also need a good shelter. A wet goat is a sick goat.
Also, from a nursing mom herself- it is downright cruel to go from regular milkings to suddenly stop. It HURTS and can damage your doe as well. It's also a sure-fire way to end up with mastitis in your doe. If they are dry when you go into winter then that's one less thing you need to worry about, but they can easily stay in milk up until the last two months of pregnancy so you'd be losing some milking time, if that matters to you. Rut starts in August and runs thru January....Usually. Though it's not uncommon to be on either side of that, particularly for the pygmies and nubians.
The single best sight for goats is www.fiascofarm.com and she is on facebook too.
As far as the smaller breeds being easier to handle-my experience has been the complete opposite. My nubians, saanen and alpine have been much more agreeable than any of the pygmies or nigerians I've owned or known. My nubians have "adopted" me and even treat me as one of their kids-sometimes licking/cleaning me from the milk stand when milking. The standard breeds seem less apt to be escape artists or car jumpers or other bad habits.
As far as keeping your first kid. ...You are going to want to wether him if it's a buck. The little buggers are fertile as early as 8 weeks old, and he can and WILL impregnate every female they can. Including his mother or 8 week old sister. Bucks stink, they can be dangerous and are utterly obnoxious during rut. They are not for the beginner. Every bad thing you have heard about goats and their reputation came from somebody havng a buck and not knowing what they were doing. You would be much better off getting some experience under your belt before trying to house your own buck. That being said, the bucks are still my favorite-stink and all.